Nalo Hopkinson is one of the most acclaimed science fiction and fantasy writers of our time. The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science calls her a luminary in the science fiction community. Her Afritopian career began with the late 20th Century breakout novel Brown Girl in the Ring, a dystopian science fiction adventure set in near-future Toronto featuring an African-Canadian heroine and the gods of Nigeria, Benin, and the Caribbean.
Hopkinson's career has ascended through books such as Skin Folk, Sister Mine, The New Moon’s Arms, and many more. She’s also a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside in the only dedicated SF writing programme anywhere in the English-speaking world.
Recently Hopkinson added another accomplishment to her dazzling career, as a comic book writer in Neil Gaiman’s DC-Vertigo Sandman universe on the series House of Whispers with artist Dominike Stanton. I knew that writing comics, with their extreme economy of words, was a special challenge for novelists, who revel in the luxury of whatever word-count they choose.
So I spoke by web video with Hopkinson on December 23, 2018, and we discussed:
Reginald Hudlin is one of the most successful creators of film and television of the last twenty-five years. He leapt to prominence by writing and directing 1990’s House Party, an intelligent and hilarious film about African American teenage life, following that with, among other films, Boomerang, widely regarded as Eddy Murphy’s finest performance, and the acerbic satire The Great Whyte Hype.
In television, Hudlin created Cosmic Slop, and wrote for and produced Bebe’s Kids, one of the few animated series ever to focus on African characters in the US. He also helped launch Everybody Hates Chris, The Boondocks, and The Bernie Mac Show. He’s directed for many series, including The Office and Modern Family.
During three years as President of Entertainment for the American network Black Entertainment Television or BET, Hudlin, according to his website, “created 17 of the top 20 rated shows in the history of the network including the award-winning KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS; AMERICAN GANGSTER; and SUNDAY BEST.”
The recipient of awards and widespread critical acclaim, Hudlin also co-authored the satirical and highly lauded graphic novel Birth of a Nation about East St. Louis seceding from the United States.
It’s Hudlin’s love of and work in comics that are the focus of this episode of MF GALAXY. Hudlin reputedly owns more than 50,000 comics, and while he was heading entertainment for all of BET, Hudlin somehow managed to write Black Panther for Marvel Comics.
Black Panther is the story of T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation Wakanda, a country that throughout history was never conquered and achieved an unparalleled height of technology. Shockingly enough, Black Panther was created back in the early 1960s not by Richard Wright, George Schuyler, Charles Saunders or Octavia Butler, but by two of the giants of modern superhero comics, the Jewish-American creative geniuses Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, ironically just a few years before the birth of the Black Panther Party.
Under Hudlin’s creative control, Black Panther continued to combine martial arts, spy thrills, science fiction and mysticism, but more than ever a critique of American politics, an Africentric perspective, and a magnificent re-imagining of some of Marvel’s few African characters such as Luke Cage and Brother Voodoo.
Reginald Hudlin spoke with me by telephone from his home in Los Angeles on December 30, 2010. We discussed:
This episode’s conversation is from the archives of the Grand Lodge of Imhotep. Reginald Hudlin spoke with me by telephone from his home in Los Angeles on December 30, 2010. Along the way, Hudlin uses the acronym “IP,” meaning “intellectual property,” such as characters, settings, and stories. At one point in our conversation, I misidentified the Juggernaut as the Rhino, but Hudlin didn’t call me out.
We began by talking about the Black Panther.
Comic book writer Brandon Easton’s original graphic novel Shadowlaw received an Eisner Award nomination for Best Single Issue and won the East Coast Black Age of Comics (or ECBAC) Glyph Award for Best Writer.
For scripting Watson and Holmes #6, Easton won three Glyph Awards, including Fan Award, Story of the Year, and Best Writer. He’s also written Miles Away, Roboy, The Joshua Run, and Arkanium, the motion comic Armarauders, and a bio-graphic novel about pro-wrestler Andre the Giant.
In addition to being the documentary film-maker behind Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century, Easton is a screenwriter who’s worked on Transformer Rescue Bots and the 2011 reboot of ThunderCats.
In part 2 of our conversation, we discuss:
Screen animation and comic book writer Brandon Easton has written for the animated series Transformer Rescue Bots and the 2011 reboot of ThunderCats, and for comics including Shadowlaw, Watson & Holmes, Miles Away, Roboy, The Joshua Run, and Arkanium, and the motion comic Armarauders. He’s also authored a bio-graphic novel about pro-wrestler Andre the Giant.
News outlets such as Forbes and Wired have noted Easton’s work, and so have awards juries. Easton's original graphic novel Shadowlaw received a 2014 Best Single Issue nomination from the Eisner Comic Industry Award. In 2014, the East Coast Black Age of Comics, or ECBAC, gave Easton three Glyph Awards, including Fan Award, Story of the Year, and Best Writer, for scripting Watson and Holmes #6, and in 2013, the Best Writer Glyph for Shadowlaw.
Easton is also the documentary film-maker behind Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century.
Easton spoke with me on December 18, 2014 via Skype from his office in Los Angeles. We discussed what writers need to do—other than write—if they want to work in Hollywood; the differences between writing for animation and writing for live action; how to write scripts for comic books.
This episode begins with our discussion of what the recent Sony hacks revealed about why major US studios exclude African-American movie stars from even being contenders for casting in countless motion pictures.