I met John Gallagher so long ago I don’t even remember it, but we were both members of the same fannish club called ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society at the University of Alberta. A bunch of us there wanted to be professional artists—including Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully who found work in comics, Jaemi Hardy who became a fine artist, and Marc Taro Holmes who worked in video games and Hollywood and has published instructional books on art—and you can hear my conversation with him on MF GALAXY.
But John Gallagher is a particularly amazing success story. After training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he went to work at Edmonton’s BioWare studio as a production illustrator. Later he broke into Hollywood, and has worked on Riverdale, the 2017 Power Rangers film, Supergirl, The Flash, The Man in the High Castle, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and X-Men: The Last Stand, among many other productions.
On April 27, 2017 Gallagher spoke with me by Skype from his home in Vancouver. He discussed:
Along the way several names bubbled up, including Ray and Greg, who are Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, two of the founders of BioWare, and Trent Oster, another founder and now the owner of BeamDog. Gallagher also cited SUB which is the Student Union Building, and HUB Mall, both at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. And we talked about “crunch,” the video game industry term for the predictable, long stretches of overtime at the end of any project. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with John Gallagher.
Saladin Ahmed is a fascinating cat. He’s best known as the Arab and Muslim American fantasy novelist who crafted Throne of the Crescent Moon which was nominated for the Hugo and won the Locus Award for best first novel. But his ethnicity also includes Polish and Irish, and his writing also includes short stories, articles, a stunning number of Tweets, and the new Marvel Comics series Black Bolt about the king of the Inhumans.
We met at the Science Fiction Research Association conference in Detroit in 2012, and he was as fun and down to earth in person as he is online. When I learned that he was writing for Marvel I just knew I had to find out what it was like for him as a novelist to leap into the world of comics, and was delighted to learn that like me, he was a lifelong comics fan who’d always wanted to create comics, too.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Saladin Ahmed discusses:
Ahmed spoke with me by Skype from his home near Detroit on June 02, 2017.
Remember when the Chinese, Saudi Arabian, and Nigerian governments invaded Canada and occupied it and it seemed like they would never leave? Remember how every province and territory fell like dominoes even after heroic military struggles against them, and so the invaders jailed or killed our resistance leaders after labelling them terrorists and savages?
Remember how they made trillions of dollars in profit for the Chinese communist party, the Saudi monarchy, and the Nigerian government, by stealing our whole country, and then they mocked us for being poor?
Remember how they destroyed and outlawed all our cultural institutions, suppressed all our languages, forced us to take Mandarin, Arabic, and Yoruba names, and forcibly converted some of us to communism, Islam, or the Yoruba religion—and punished us if we stayed faithful to our own beliefs?
Remember how they sent all our children to their schools where they tortured, starved, and even raped thousands of them, where they tolerated up to a 50 per cent death rate for our kids they jailed there, and often didn’t inform us when our kids died and they buried them in unmarked graves?
Remember all the trauma and addiction we experienced and passed on because of what they did to us, and how even after all that horror, for over three decades they kidnapped 20,000 more of our children and sent them to live with Chinese, Saudi, and Nigerian families who were occupying our land, and prevented them from learning their heritage languages and cultures and even knowing their real families?
Well, of course you don’t remember any of that because that never happened. But that is exactly what English and French invaders did to the hundreds of Indigenous nations of what is now called Canada. And the rest of us whose families arrived later became settlers on all that conquered territory—the second-largest country on earth—which means our families collaborated with that colossally destructive regime, whether we knew it or not. Every dime of Canadian GDP since 1867 has arisen from the cultural and even physical genocide that we don’t even call genocide—we call it “confederation.”
But because we as settlers teach ourselves to see the people we’ve conquered as beneath us, we can sleep easily and pat ourselves on the back as being the politest and most civilised people on earth, especially as compared to those nasty Americans. Because if we did see First Nations people as being just like us, and if we reflected on how we would feel and what we would do if anyone had committed such crimes against us, we would never sing “O Canada” proudly again.
But hopefully, we would commit our lives to righting the wrongs that earn our society trillions of dollars and make us among the most comfortable people on the planet.
Well, regardless of our collaboration with genocide, many of the people our regime targeted survived and many have even thrived. Award-winning filmmaker Tasha Hubbard has created the startling new documentary Birth of a Family. It’s co-written by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reporter Betty Ann Adam, about Adam’s successful uniting with her three siblings Rosalie, Esther, and Ben, decades after the Canadian government kidnapped them.
It’s not a re-union because while Betty Ann had met each of them, the rest had never been together before the remarkable week of filming when they toured Banff and stayed in the same cabin at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
The director and co-writer behind this unforgettable portrait of intergenerational pain and profound triumph is Tasha Hubbard. She’s an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She won a Gemini and Golden Sheaf for writing and directing Two Worlds Colliding, and created the animated short Buffalo Calling which screened at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Her short hybrid documentary 7 Minutes won a Golden Sheaf Award in 2016. She’s a member of the Cree Nation, and researches and creates projects for Indigenous media on images of the buffalo and the experiences of Indigenous women and children. She also blogs for the Broadbent Institute.
On May 30, 2017, Tasha Hubbard spoke with me by Skype about her new National Film Board documentary. In this episode of MF GALAXY, we discuss:
Along the way, we discussed Write Magazine, which published an editorial that proposed a “cultural appropriation” writers prize to encourage people to write, in the editor’s words, what they did not know. I also mentioned a birthday party, which refers to a powerful sequence in the film. And Hubbard talked about being “raised away,” which means separated from one’s birth family.
Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline is one of the most celebrated indie comics ever to be published in the United States. Brotherman is the creation of two siblings: writer Guy A. Sims and artist-writer Dawud Anyabwile. While Marvel and DC today struggle to sell many of their titles in the low thousands, the original eleven issues of the black-and-white Brotherman comic sold a total of 750,000 copies via indie channels from African-American bookstores to barbershops and Black Expos.
Many credit Brotherman with fueling the growth of African-American comics in the 1990s. Now after a long hiatus, the series is back, not as individual pamphlet comics but in graphic novel form. Brotherman: Revelation – Book One is now out and it’s as engaging and gorgeous as ever—maybe even more now that it’s in full colour as ebook and trade paperback. When I learned the book was out, I just had to contact the artist, since I’d also loved his and his brother’s adaptation of Walter Dean Myers’ novel Monster.
In addition to co-creating Brotherman, Dawud Anyabwile worked for the video game company WanderLust Interactive, and on the television shows The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, and at Turner Studios as a designer and storyboard artist for Turner channels Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS, and others. He was nominated for the Will Eisner Best Artist Award, and won a 2016 Glyph Award for Brotherman: Revelation – Book One. And he also won a 2008 Emmy for conceptualising a public service announcement for the Dalai Lama, and in 1992 received the Key to the City of Kansas City, Missouri, for “Outstanding Service to Children” for the original run of Brotherman.
Dawud Anyabwile is also a down-to-earth, friendly, and very informative brother. A major reason I produce MF GALAXY is to support artists in various disciplines, including many who don’t have close to the creative discipline, sales success, and ability of Anyabwile and so need the publicity. And yet when I ask some of them who as yet have accomplished very little to come on the show, some of them turn up their noses. Not Anyabwile! Even though he’s been the subject of countless interviews and even documentaries, and you can find links to some of them on MF GALAXY.org, he was quick to respond, generous with his time, and kind. So, creators of various types, you can learn from this man in many ways.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Dawud Anyabwile and I discuss:
We spoke by Skype on May 17, 2017. I began by asking Anyabwile to summarise the story of Brotherman: Revelation - Book One, and what he hoped to accomplish with this volume that he hadn’t been able to do before.