Marc Taro Holmes knows an awful lot about art. I’m not just talking about last December when he up and got himself elected to the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, or more than twenty years ago when he got his BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary.
I’m talking about his more than fifteen years as an Art Director and Concept Artist for tiny outfits you’ve never heard of, such as Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Disney, and BioWare where he worked on games such as Dragon Age Inquisition, Neverwinter Nights, and Baldur’s Gate. He’s still doing contract work for game design on characters, costumes, and fantasy-historical settings.
Back thirty years ago, he and I belonged to an informal group of young science fiction, comics, and fantasy artists in Edmonton that I nicknamed “The Sketchmen” because we were all so enamoured with Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. That group included painter Jaemi Hardy, and cartoonists Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully.
Now Marc Holmes is the author of two books including The Urban Sketcher and Designing Creatures and Characters: How to Build an Artist’s Portfolio for Video Games, Film, Animation and More. That second book, his latest, is a gamified approach to getting into professional artistic design. Holmes’s spectacular art and engaging exercises offer a truly fun and competitive means to get good quickly.
In today’s show, Marc Holmes discusses:
We spoke by Skype on November 10, 2016. We began by discussing 1980s superstar Marvel artist John Byrne, best known for his work on X-Men and Fantastic Four, and why art in comic books has gotten better every generation.
During the last few years, the catalogue of online slurs has grown considerably, but none has been as disturbing to me as the rise of the word “hotep.” What does the word mean? What is its significance to those who prize classical African civilisations? How have two forces collided to degrade the word, and whose interests does that degradation serve?
Joining me to discuss the issue is C.R. Sparrow. She’s a writer and assistant editor at Black Girl Nerds.com, an Africentric website, podcast, and video series addressing pop culture, politics, feminism, and technology. Sparrow describes herself as “an avid fan of science fiction, fantasy, and afrofuturism… an alumnus of Temple University's School of Media and Communication [and a] Black Queer Woman in a world that frequently attempts to dehumanize each of these identities. She actively centers Black/queer/woman-ness in her lens as she looks out at the world.”
Sparrow recently wrote a powerful article for BGN called “Hotep is the Modern Day A.B.S. and It’s Not OK”. After I read it, I knew I needed to speak with her for MF GALAXY.
I appreciate how Sparrow reinforced for me that people’s self-description is profoundly personal, and not easily changed or wished-away. I’m strongly reminded of the lesson from Elijah Muhammad: Tell a man he’s drinking dirty water, and he’ll resent you and keep on drinking. Instead, simply put a clean glass of water next to his and he’ll figure it out himself and maybe even thank you. My own lesson: If people aren’t buying, change your product, change your marketting, or change your market—but whatever you do, don’t blame the customer. It’ll get you the exact opposite of what you want.
For Canadian listeners, Sparrow uses the African-American colloquialism “bougie,” meaning “bourgeois,” and cites Kim Burrell, a gospel singer and pastor who has preached from her pulpit that LGBTQ folks are “perverted” and will die in 2017 from what she called their “sin.” Before her remarks surfaced, Burrell contributed a song to the soundtrack for Hidden Figures, a docu-drama about African women mathematical geniuses who were indispensable to the success of the US space programme.
“Tololwa Mollel is a children’s author, dramatist and storyteller, who has written seventeen internationally published books, and several plays as well as stories that he created or adapted for performance. His books, which include award winning titles such as Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper, Big Boy, and My Rows and Piles of Coins have been published in Canada, the U.S., Australia, England and Tanzania where he was born. His work has been translated into various South African languages, into Korean, Spanish, Serbian, Norwegian and Finnish, and of course his native Kiswahili, Tanzania’s national language.
“In Tanzania, Mollel was a University lecturer and an actor and performer in a touring company that performed as far as Germany and Sweden. He continued performing in Canada but came to devote himself to writing and to the literary scene in Edmonton, serving as President of the Writers Guild of Alberta in the late 1990s.
“He does extensive work with schools and libraries, with literacy, arts and educational bodies, and with community organizations. In all this work, Mollel has presented, performed and conducted writing, storytelling and dramatic workshops and writer-in-residence programs in schools, libraries and communities across Canada and the U.S., as well as in England, Australia and Tanzania. Of his presentations and his work with schools, libraries and communities, Mollel says, “I aim to provide a feast of words – written and spoken – for the eye, the ear and the mind; as well as for the creative imagination, and for performance.” Through writing, storytelling and drama, Mollel hopes to empower the young, and others, with the gift of story — to write, tell, share and enjoy stories; to mentor them as he was mentored. Mollel has increasingly come to combine the arts of storytelling, story making and theater into story performance with music with collaborating musicians and artists. Click here to learn about Mollel’s childhood sources of inspiration for his love of story and story making.
“Available for presentations and work in schools, Mollel does author visits, young writers’ conferences, as well as workshops and residencies on writing, storytelling, storytelling with drama and story performance, and drama, in programs that he can adapt for all ages and various curricular needs, determined through his discussion with schools. He is available for writing and editing projects, such as student anthologies, stories for performance, memoirs, story making for movie scripts and for other purposes. He is also available to conduct workshops on writing and storytelling for teachers and librarians in schools, conferences and conventions. For details about Mollel’s presentations and work in schools, click here. You can view or download a summary of the details in a PDF brochure here. For additional details regarding school and library bookings and fees, contact Tololwa Mollel.”
Two words known by hundreds of millions: "Princess Leia." That's the legacy of the collaboration among Carrie Fisher, George Lucas, and hundreds of other filmmakers who worked on the Star Wars saga.
But without Fisher herself--the actor, the public personality, and the astonishing accomplished novelist, screenwriter, and memoirist--Princess Leia could never have become the icon she was.
MF GALAXY celebrates the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher and her most enduring role by speaking with authors Jennifer Marie Brissett, Krista D. Ball, and Sparkle Hayter, writer Mari Sasano, and director Zoe Hopkins.
To hear the patrons-only bonus content for Carrie Fisher + Princess Leia Remembered, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.