A few months, the last two Black writers at either of the "Big Two" publishers were unceremoniously fired. However, there was one last bastion for Black writers — Image Comics, where the last Black man standing in mainstream comics remains, churning out comics every single month.
Enrique Carrion is a New York native half-Black, half-Latino and — as of today — the last Black person working as a writer in monthly comics, bringing Vescell from Image (Jimmie Robinson's Bomb Queen books are a series of mini-series, but that's also at Image).
Carrion sat down with Komplicated for an enlightening interview that goes a little something like this …
KOMPLICATED: Let's start with the obvious: you're the last Black man standing in monthly mainstream comics. Nobody at Marvel, nobody at DC, nobody at Dark Horse. What the heck is up with that?
ENRIQUE CARRION: First I got to thank Image Comics for that. Image Comics is very progressive in its thinking, and really has its finger on the pulse of what's hot and contemporary, not just trendy and gimmicky.
People are calling me the Last Black Man Standing (in Comics), I understand what that means to a lot of people and the responsibility that comes with that. We have the only book with both a Black lead protagonist and an all Black/Latino creative staff.
Black and Latino people have come up to me shook my hand not letting it go and said, "thank you man, you don't know what this book means to us." But I do, not only does Vescell have a lead Black/Latino character it is fresh and contemporary, no spandex, no cliches.
As far as why other companies are devoid of Black people in their creative staff, It can't be because there is a lack of Black comic buyers and fans. I walked into Midtown Comics one Wednesday and half of the customers in there were black, of all ages, so the demographic is there, and ready to buy. Also lots of White and Asian readers love Vescell … more than half of my readers are White, and I am thankful for that, it shows that a book with Black leads if done right can appeal to all audiences. I believe Marvel, D.C, and Dark Horse are just beginning to figure out how to market ethnic characters and understand that there is profit potential in them. I would love to sit down with them and continue to help those companies amplify that, and bring more profitable diversity to their established brands, or create new ones.
K: How did you come up with Vescell, and what can you tell people about why they should sign on for a brand new story like yours?
EC: Vescell is a journey of joy, pain, betrayal, heartbreak, love and prophecy converted into a laser beam and shot through the dual lens of sci-fi and fantasy. There is nothing ever written like it before, it is state of the art story telling with fantastic art by John "Roc" Upchurch, made for today's comic readers, the MMO players, the Facebook and Twitter rockers, iPad/iPhone users, true nerds, kool kids, casual readers who need something to read on their way to work, hard copy purest and the heads that just love good storytelling and ill art. Plus the story is so modern, I have characters of various ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations, in a sexy retro-futuristic noir setting.
K: If you had to choose between jello wrestling any individual comics creator to the death or eating nothing but string cheese for a year, which would it be, and if the first, which creator would you go against?
EC: Hahahha, man I'm not jello wrestling anyone … well maybe if I had the option to wrestle Marjorie M. Liu (sorry nerd fantasy)…but I wouldn't mind creatively building with John Layman, Robert Kirkman, Gail Simone or Rick Remender they are all doing great work right now.
K: Top five favorite movies of all time, and why. Go.
EC: Before Sunrise: Perfect dialogue a beautiful depiction of two strangers meeting, learning about each other and falling into a honest and pure love.
Star Wars: Need I say more. Dark Horse call me, I got scripts on stand by.
The Big Combo: Arguably one of the most beautiful movies ever shot. Cinematographer John Alton is a visual artist bending light and shadows to his will. I relate to this film a lot because I understand when you look at a piece of work there are multiple levels of art going on at the same time. In a movie it's the directing, the acting, costume design, cinematography etc. A comic also showcases different disciplines of art at the same time, the first thing that you see is the the art, then the writing, I feel with my writing I am painting a second set of images in my readers mind. I always wanted to draw but cant for my life, so I always said I would do it with my words. Also my letterer Rafael Diaz is doing some great work his typography is so ill.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Just pure nerd fun executed perfectly.
Labyrinth: Jim Henson, pure imagination. Still looks amazing to this day. M.C. Escher brought to the silver screen and a strong female protagonist.
Goonies: I know you said five but I couldn't leave the ultimate crew adventure movie out.
K: Icarus City is a very complex fictional environment, combining elements of magic and futuristic science. What are three things can you tell us about Icarus City that fans wouldn't know or expect?
EC: Icarus City is the City where the story of Vescell mostly takes Place. Icarus City is the crown jewel of the world because its monster free and a place where humans can live a relatively normal life, like one lived by the people of earth before their reality collided with the demon infested dimension of the Banerealm. However the people who run the city are as twisted and corrupt as some of the monsters they work at keeping out. Ascetically the city is a 1940s art deco and gothic dream, with bridges that connect buildings, trains that wrap around sky scrapers, and classic cars sail through the streets. I wish I could say more without revealing to much but just stay tuned.
K: Getting a shot to publish at Image isn't something everybody can claim, and certainly not a lot of people of color. What was it about your pitch for Vescell that you think made the difference? Could you tell us the story of how you got the green light?
EC: There really was no pitch the story spoke for itself, it's something fresh and cutting edge and that's what Image Comics is all about. I sent an eight page fully colored and lettered preview of Vescell and I submitted that about one to three times a week for about three months straight.
As far as how I got on I just never gave up, I just kept submitting to Image three times a week … every week for months, then I got that call from Eric Stephenson, and from there it was on, I couldn't believe it my dream came true. I can't begin to say how grateful I am to Eric for giving me the opportunity to come on board and share Vescell with the world.
K: What was the first comic book you ever remember reading, and the last one you've read? Tell us about both of those experiences, please.
EC: The first comic I ever owned and read was Amazing Spider-Man #300 it blew me away, and Todd McFarlane will always be my favorite artist. I followed him through Spider-Man all the way to Spawn and the creation of Image Comics and I use to cop all those early titles Youngblood, Wildcats, Shadowhawk, so to be part of that same trailblazing label is an honor.
Just for fun, here's a preview of issue six, in stores and available digitally today.
Picking up Vescell #6 in stores today is not only showing support of independent comics, and of Black creativity in the market, but gets you one hell of a story.
[Source: Image Comics]