Haters, just stop reading now, because you'll simply skip the advice and jump right to how it's all about me.
I'm a King Maker.
I told you to just stop reading, I'm just getting started. Now where was I? Me?
I'm a King Maker.
I find and cultivate young creators from undeveloped talent to star status professionals. My in-studio mentor program, Bad Boy Studios, has produced some of the biggest names working in the industry today. I won't bore you with a list (that's an whole other column I can piss you off with) but I'll mention two: Bernard Chang and N. Steven Harris are Bad Boy alumni.
Bernard has enjoyed superstar status for a while now, but Steve is a lot like Denys Cowan: the industry has always known just how bad ass they are as artists, but something had to happen that made the rest of the world acknowledge them.
Denys' moment came when he was selected to illustrate Detective Comics 600 in 1989, which was Batman's 50th anniversary. Among the celebratory events was the premiere of Batman the movie. That year was officially the second coming of Batmania and Batman's biggest year ever. Being handpicked to draw Detective 600 was akin to being the actor cast as Harry Potter. Everybody wanted it, but Denys Cowan got it.
Steve's moment came when he was nominated for a 2014 Eisner for his work on Watson & Holmes. I'd write more but why? He lost. I told him, ' lose the dreads, you'll scare all the white judges' he didn't listen.
However he's a lock for a B.E.T. Award once they realize comics can be found places outside of barbershops and Black Expos.
Bernard — I know, just one line. But that's all you need with that stone-cold fox you're marrying. By the way, tell her I'm here if she ever needs anything. Like, oh I don't know, comforting her if someone ever sends her photos of you and Richard Simmons.
Bernard and Steve are not just working professionals; both have an infrastructure capable of producing not just comics, but related media such as film. They are masters of their domain, kings of their kingdom and me a king maker.
I'm a King Maker.
If their studio needs added firepower on a project, Bad Boy has a network of powerful connections they could call upon if needed.
There is never any fee nor do I take a "cut" of any deal I may lend a hand in. I also don't take a fee if I negotiate on a graduate's behalf or send projects their way. The Bad Boy Studio mentorship is completely free, and although sponsors are always looking to write me a check, I self fund the program.
Why self fund? That way no one has a say in how I run it. Say IBM writes me a check for X dollars; IBM is looking for influence on some level. Now if IBM wants to give the program 50 computers (which they did) all that requires is a thank you, not an ad in Black Enterprise magazine such as "IBM PRESENT'S BAD BOY STUDIO" or "BAD BOY STUDIO: A IBM PRODUCTION" or "IBM STUDIOS FOR BAD BOYS."
It's best I stay away from corporate underwriters; I don't want to end up someone's bitch like B.E.T when Viacom "invested" in them. Bad Boy Studios is one of my ways of giving back, or as the haters will no doubt think, it's my way of making sure I have yet another thing to crow about.
The Bad Boy motto is Each One, Teach One. I'm proud of what the studio stands for, and I consider it my greatest accomplishment…. SHIT almost forgot the haters… I consider it my greatest accomplishment among the many, many I have.
I encourage new creators to seek me out, and if I have the time and they have the talent, I'll try and be of some help.
That help is usually not admission into Bad Boy, which is highly selective, but advice, guidance, and in rare cases, I'll make a call and walk a creator or project into a company I think would go for. The Fifth Beatle was such a project. That graphic novel is freakin' HUGE and being made into a film, and no, I did not take a fee.
Over the years hundreds of creators have reached out. Most are respectful and mindful of the limits on my time. Some, and I'm always amazed at the sheer balls these people have, act as if I should drop everything and attend to their needs.
Others think their work is what DC & Marvel is missing. Upon being informed neither company is looking for blue ballpoint pen-inked pin ups of Rob Liefield swipes, they often get upset, and in no uncertain terms tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. I get this reaction a lot and then some.
I agree with them, using my standard reply: "You're right. I have no idea what I'm talking about, that's why I contacted you in the first place." There's no comeback from that in my book. Most try, but they are already dead in the water.
I spend zero time on attitude, even less on indolence.
Those are two of the three sure-fire ways to guarantee we never correspond again. The third and by far the most vexing to me are creators who don't take the time to learn simple things about the industry before contacting me.
Have a fucking clue for God's sake.
I'm a very busy man. I sleep 4-5 hours a night, and that's when I sleep at all. Last week I collapsed from what I thought was the flu; it wasn't. It was exhaustion and I ended up in the hospital because of it. I'm not unlike most in entertainment at my level — there's no such thing as 9-5 in our business. Fun fact, the closing meeting with Image Comics for the Motown Machineworks imprint started at 3a.m.
That's my reality and the reality of the entertainment business. I'm writing this at 9 pm. on a Monday, my day started at 5:30 am and I'll be on a video shoot at 1am, most likely home at 6 or 7am Tuesday morning.
So, my time is important. As is any person who gives his or her time helping others enter an industry where the success rate is so low, the recruiting slogan is Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
I know of no other program like mine in the industry. If one exists those involved will tell you, it's not easy. I do it for no money because it was done for me and I take, each one, teach one, seriously. I invest a lot of time, money, and resources into aiding new talent. The least those who seek anyone's help or mine can do is be considerate of our time and do some damn common sense research about the industry.
All that said, I'm going to detail the simple steps and preparations' new creators should take well in advance of requesting time and entrée into any professionals' organization seeking favor.
But I'm doing so next week so to give the trolls ample time to savoir this tasty morsel of me, me, me.
End Part One.
Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive.
His positions as an entertainment executive include: President & CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks, President of Animation at Magic Johnson Entertainment, President of Publishing at Blackboard Entertainment, and Vice President, Director Of Talent, and Co-founder of Milestone Media. He's created, written, illustrated, or produced original content for comics, television, radio, publishing, and reading programs as an independent producer. Alumni from his Bad Boy Studio mentor program are some of the most respected talents working in comics, television, and illustration today.
Current projects include graphic novels, The Underground from Dark Horse and Jackie Robinson Day 1, mainstream novels such as Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Black People But Were Afraid To Ask from Full Court Press, White Winter, Black Night Books 1-4 from Simon & Schuster. The Littlest Bitch from Sellers Publishing (with David Quinn) is in its third printing and currently in development for television.
Michael is also the creator and host of The Black Panel, a powerhouse forum that brings together some of the biggest names in the African American media space.
Among his honors and awards are Mentor Of The Year from Mentor Magazine 1995, The Michael Davis Auditorium named at The Gordon Parks Academy 1996, Renaissance Award from the Arizona Black Film Festival 2006, and The Inkpot Award at Comic Con International 2013.
He fully realizes his bio is now the longest and most corporate of the BC contributors, something his haters will no doubt consider just another way to talk about himself.