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Black Comic Book Creators and Social Media Pt. 2

Black Web 2.0 has covered black-owned web comics, and we wanted to advance the conversation by turning to the mainstream comic book industry. However, there are black artists and writers who work for mainstream publishers and also and create their own series. The following is part two of a two part series where we catch up with some of these talents and discuss how social media is helping to disseminate their work.

Joe Illidge

image Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2010
Left to Right:  Illidge at his desk,Static (Milestone Comics), Ayre Force (Bodog Entertainment)

Role: Writer
Mainstream Comic Book Titles: Milestone Comics: Hardware, Static; DC Comics: Detective Comics, Birds of Prey; Bodog Entertainment: Ayre Force
Original Comic Book TitlesEXPO Weekly
Social Media Profiles: FacebookLinkedIn
Other Links: Archaia ComicsVerge Entertainment

How do you use social media to market your work?

I am the vehicle for my work, and my background as an editor on the Batman line of comics for DC Entertainment and as Comics Editor at Archaia speaks volumes.

With that, I use social media to market myself and my production company, Verge Entertainment. My credentials attract clients that cover the spectrum from Fortune 500 technology companies to independent graphic novel publishers in the U.S. and the European Union.

My agent and I are cooking up some programs for me to premiere via Skype, one of which would help the next generation of creators of color develop independently-owned, competitive graphic novels.

Do you think the comic book industry understands the value of social media?

It’s clear the comic book companies view social media as an important promotional tool, and use it accordingly. However, they seem to use it with a “throw everything at it” strategy, instead of with surgical precision.

I’d like to see the various publishers create business divisions solely dedicated to the usage and exploitation of social media, and hire people who understand it. The book publishers have this kind of dedicated staff and thinking, so it’s about time the comic book publishers catch up.

Where do you see the comic book industry in ten years?

One: the romance between Hollywood and comic books will likely have passed, so the companies making comics to make deals will fade away and the companies surviving from option deals will go with them.

What you will have left is a postmodern medium and industry, where comic books are made to create the best fiction that only comics can for people who love comics and don’t care about who’s playing the villain in Avengers 5 or X-Men version 4, movie 1.

Well, unless their parent companies like Disney have other plans.

Two: There’s no turning back from the allure of electronic comics, and people want portals in every portable way imaginable, so be prepared for stylish Ray Ban –like visors on which people will be reading Iron Man One Thousand while they’re sitting on the train or bus.

John Jennings

image Circuit Breaker: The story of a man with an electrical outlet in his forehead and the choices he makes. Only from Eye Trauma Comix!image
Left to Right:  Jennings, Circuit Breaker (Eye Trauma Comix), Jennings’ book Black Comix

Role: Artist, Author
Original Comic Book Titles: Eye Trauma Comix:  Circuit BreakerDay 8The Hole: Consumer CultureMr. BombheadUrban KeepTrees You Can’t Climb
Social Media Profiles: FacebookWordPressBlogSpot

How do you use social media to market your work?

We have been very successful using the facebook fan page as a great marketing tool. Damian has become an awesome blogger as well. So, a lot of stuff we are doing ends up on the blog as well. Dani Jackson, our advocate/agent, does a lot of social networking management for us.

Do you think the comic book industry understands the value of social media?

I can’t see any industry not comprehending the power of social media these days. In order for them to compete, they have to be privy to the power that the internet and other media possesses.

Where do you see the comic book industry in ten years?

If the iPad and other readers start getting out there in a big way, I can definitely see the comics and graphic novels going digital. As a society, we have to look to other substrates to print on or other media for publications. Paper is the third largest polluter of our drinking water and we need our trees. It will most like be a little bit of everything…the web, printing on demand, the iPad…comics are versatile so, I can see them being ubiquitous and pretty much EVERYWHERE!

What are the challenges of working in an industry with co-workers and comic book characters who are overwhelmingly Caucasian?

Under-representation on any level is a very serious problem. I think it is very important for everyone who participates in a culture to see themselves in it and being an active producer of content. It is empowering and gives you the feeling of agency.

That being said, the opposite, can be very demoralizing, oppressive, and frustrating. It makes someone who isn’t of the majority feel invisible, undervalued, and scrutinized. We all have a stake in our society and our stories are vital to us as a race. NOT showing something is every bit as powerful of a statement as showing something. It hurts when your culture isn’t recognized as being part of society..especially when the society wouldn’t have existed without your ancestors participation; voluntarily or involuntarily.



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