Archive by Author

How to tell black stories without making them “Black Stories,” and other stories

9 Dec

By Ayo

Marginalized people, as subjects and as audiences to art and cultural products, are under multiple pressures: erasure of our very existence from popular imagination, whitewashing of history and whitewashing of our oppression, backgrounding (placing marginalized people in non-active, almost decorative roles as figures in the background).

Number one: stories about anthropomorphic animals are at best a stopgap when it comes to representing differing racial groups and at worst they are an actual impediment to imparting compassion and empathy for other humans to the readers.

I do not necessarily oppose stories about animals. I support these stories as a form of resistance against the cultural juggernaut which is white supremacy, manifested in art as euro-primacy. What I absolutely do not support is the practice on relying exclusively on animal-characters as a method of avoidance. I roundly reject the idea that animals must be presented as characters for the benefit of a society that refuses to see people of color as viable subjects worthy of interest.

Number two: nonfiction is a trap. A particularly insidious thing that happens in the trends surrounding storytelling about people of color and other marginalized people is that the stories most often featuring marginalized people tend to be historical narratives, or the related genre, fiction centered around the specific oppression faced by the marginalized community in question.

These stories are important. They are vitally important. Biographies, histories, historical fiction, culturally-specific folklore, fiction derived from specific oppressions that marginalized people face: all of these are important stories to tell. We can never afford to lose track of history and lived experience. The trouble is that for marginalized people, these are not presented as some of the stories, but rather the only stories relevant to marginalized communities and peoples. An association begins to build where people start to link nonwhite characters and nonwhite people with suffering and struggle alone. Focusing on fact and history alone denies people their humanity in the eyes of a society. Instead, people become reduced to moral lessons, teachable moments and in the process, people lose perception that marginalized peoples exist as fully-dimensional human beings.

Number three: backgrounding. This tendency must be rejected on an individual story basis and condemned on a systemic basis. We cannot continue to condone the practice of simply placing some brown people into non-essential roles and claiming that a work depicts a diverse reality. That is not reality. People do not exist exclusively in support of white people nor do people exist exclusively to stand behind white people.

Number four: stories happen to everyone. White people are not the only people who have adventures.

~Ayo, out~

So I got to thinking about them X-Men…

3 Jun

…and to me, if you ask me personally, if X-Men is a metaphor for racism, I tell you always “no.” Is the X-Men a metaphor for homophobia and I insist “no.”

If X-Men is analogous to ANYthing in reality, it is a metaphor for the entitlement to private gun ownership.

-Ayo2014

comic books vs picture books

4 Feb

by Ayo

Picture book illustration uses a lot of the same elements as cartooning (both forms are Sequential Art) but it sure doesn’t feel like comics when you look at it and read it.

The visual continuity from image to image is tighter in the comics mode of storytelling, keeping the reader immersed in the world of the story while picture book illustration, even the most densely-detailed sort, keeps the reader at arm’s distance, each illustration acting as a visual anchor while the reader imagines the full scope of the scenario.

The two forms represent different aspects to imagination. Picture books encourage readers to visualize scenes based on the anchor points that have been provided. Comics encourage readers to explicitly empathize with the specific details as they unfold.

Interesting differences.

How can there be God without Death?

11 Nov

By Darryl Ayo

Edna II
by Sophie Goldstein
redinkradio.com
2013

The cover of Edna II shimmers. It has a thin reflective overlay which creates a glimmering haze over the landscape that encompasses The Bubble and The World Outside Of The Bubble. This effect, along with the fact that there is a bubble for characters to live in implies that the world as we know it has been destroyed by environmental pollution.
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Are you an agent of the end times

7 Nov

By Darryl Ayo

“The Pilgrimage”
East of West, number seven
By Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta
With Frank Martin & Rus Wooton
Image Comics, November 2013

Review: I like the comic book series “East of West” and I liked the seventh issue more than some of the prior issues. Frank Martin is one of my favorite comic book colorists and Nick Dragotta structures his spatial compositions in a way that appeals to my particular interests in comic book drawing. I mostly enjoyed reading issues one through six and as time goes by I feel that the writing has gotten stronger whereas most serials settle into a groove and begin to deteriorate as their central mysteries are revealed to the audience.

When I set down the previous issue of “East of West,” I thought to myself “that was really good.” Upon completion of the current issue (number seven), I thought to myself “that was better than the last one.”

End “East of West” review.

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Annoyed by bad structure.

13 Oct

By Darryl Ayo

Provocative headline, first paragraph supports headline’s claim, detail paragraphs seem to subvert those claims subtly, halfway through: the finer details of the author’s True Intent are revealed, finally, author doesn’t seem quite so extreme after all.

STOP. WRITING. THIS. ESSAY.

Say what you mean upfront. Use detail paragraphs to flesh out your intentions. Your conclusion is the same as your introduction, plus the knowledge that the reader understands the reasons for your assertion.

That’s how it’s done.

A lot of modern journalists, bloggers, essayists, writers are so fixated on this fallacy that they must provoke their readers and delay their essays’ thesis that they only succeed in provoking outrage.

One cannot insist “read the whole essay” when the writer is too coy or too dishonest to communicate to the reader in good faith without relying on incoherent provocations, misdirections and strawman arguments designed only to trick the reader or anger the reader (at which point, the “clever” writer unveils the truth of their intentions).

It is manipulative and it adds to an already-untenable culture of hyperbole, contrarianism, deceit and misinformation.

Always remember the adages about first impressions.

The first impression of your essay must be the truth of your convictions. Even using your cleverest rhetorical reversals, readers’ lingering impressions will be your initial statement of your essay.

Maybe because most writers are figuring it out as they write. First draft, stream of consciousness, no real editing. It’s one thing to struggle to a conclusion but it’s quite another to ask your unfortunate readers to struggle with you as you make up your mind about what you believe.

Tighten up, writer.

@darrylayo

No slouch

10 Oct

By Ayo

The Shaolin Cowboy, no. 1
By Geof Darrow with Dave Stewart
October, 2013
Dark Horse Comics

To the best of my recollection, I’ve never read a Geof Darrow comic book. I’ve seen his art a thousand times, I’ve read comics where he had contributed a single illustration (cover, pinup) but I’m not certain if I have ever seen Darrow’s pages. Until the Year of Our Lord, 2013, mid-October.

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