My older brother Jordan always told me to “shut up and write it down!” whenever I tried to explain to him my ideas behind my characters. Although it was annoying to have him cut me off mid sentence just when I was about to go on an impassioned tangent about my newly designed sci-fi character Shango-Obatala Arken-Spire, I began to appreciate his rather blunt advice. My ideas were like a tempest (a nickname for the character mentioned) and I needed to reach the eye of the storm in order to make the fictional universe in my head a reality.
I had to untrain my hand when I began to draw my characters. Being bombarded with subtly eurocentric images everywhere made me resent the way I’d draw my characters with straight hair, pointy noses, and white skin. In middle school, kids would tell me (black and white) that black characters could not be drawn because they would look ugly when compared to white characters. I would, of course, call them dumbasses, then proceed to shank them with the eraser side of my pencil, but those comments made me look at the images of Blacks and other people of color being presented in a variety of different mediums. Anyone who tells you that Black characters can’t be made with agency, depth, and complexity are idiots. Simple. I draw and create worlds not only to tell stories, but to see the look in the eyes of Black children as they brighten, seeing characters with their skin being badass and complex. I rarely had that growing up, and I want those kids who read comics and watch cartoons to get up and yell “I’m gonna be Shango for Halloween!”
The last words Jordan said to me before his death were “I have a good feeling about this son, we’re gonna go the distance with this one. We’re gonna take over the world!” referencing a beat he made with his mini MPC beat maker he got for christmas. When Jordan passed, my resolve to “take over the world” became a lifetime goal. To this day those words continue to influence my work, because i’ll be damned if I don’t make some mark on this planet before I die. I owe it to the people who are here, and to the people who gone, to show the world what I can do. In the words of Nas and Pete Rock, “It’s mine it’s mine it’s mine whose world is this? The World is Yours.”