Micah BlackLight can perhaps be described as a defiant, volcanic force of Nature's creation, wearing the body of a brown-skinned catalyst clad in clothing he created (literally), and bursting with perpetual inspiration and enthusiasm to match. He describes himself as a human, alien, angel hybrid art-filled being who laughs as a means of infecting fellow citizens with spontaneous mirth, employs hugs as high-powered disarmament techniques, and is not afraid to cackle in public. Self-employed since 2010, he is determined to create as many different works of art in as many mediums as he can, detonating spirits along the way and leaving trails of empowering, inspiring experiences in his wake, like a spirit boat on the lake of existence.
Today I discuss with him his artistic passions as he prepares to close out the final week of his Kickstarter campaign of his experimental erotica book, LER Vol.1: Technology, Myth, Fantasy, and Urban Divinity (ending Wed, March 25 2020 2:59 AM EDT)
GREG ANDERSON ELYSÉE: Micah, it's wonderful having you here, man! How are you?
MICAH BLACKLIGHT: Ahhhh MAN! It's SO good to be here yo. Things are CRAZY right now—but here we are. Pleasure to be here and thanks for having me.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: I want to start off by saying how much I love your art, man! It's a bit unconventional, trippy, experimental. Can you tell us a bit about your artistic journey that enforced where it's at today?
BLACKLIGHT: THANK. YOU! To be honest, you're one of the first to describe my work in that way— I LIKE it. Hmmm… My artistic journey. Well, I feel like some of the biggest influences on the formation of my art were things like Heavy Metal, Marvel Comics, Hellraiser, H.R. Giger, and then more recently, afro-futurism and the desire to FEED people who are hungry for imagery that's different, but beautiful and sexy and resonates within them on some level. Or multiple levels. I remember walking into a place and seeing this GORGEOUS painting of a Moor: decked out in armament and turban and richly caparisoned, and it BLEW MY MIND. I thought I'd been fine until that point, but it was right then that I realized I wanted my art to feed people the way that image fed me. Seeing ourselves [black and brown folk] depicted with magic and fantasy AND urban inner-city swagger? That's what I'd like to bring my version of and that's what I'm intent on creating. Lastly, I wish to introduce new archetypes into the social and collective consciousness, allow the ones who wish to come through me to come through… Via MY filter.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: On top of being an illustrator, you're also involved in writing, fashion, music, and dance. What would you say inspires you and pushes you to keep growing as an artist?
BLACKLIGHT: A long time ago, my personal Muses turned on the inspiration tap and then broke the faucet. It NEVER cuts off now. EVER. So basically, it is virtually impossible for me NOT to push and keep growing, because the ideas keep coming and they stretch me, and grow me, and it feels SO SO SO VERY good.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: You're approaching the last week of your Kickstarter campaign for your most recent project, LER: Vol.1: Technology, Myth, Fantasy, and Urban Divinity! How has the journey been thus far?
BLACKLIGHT: Madness. Straight up and down MADNESS. Like, it feels like I happened to launch during one of THE MOST inopportune moments in the history of the Kickstarter platform [Laughs]! But it's also been hellaciously inspiring. The way people are responding to the work I'm bringing, particularly the underlying messages and principles, has been really uplifting and validating for me. And the fact that in the middle of the craziness of our current world, people are still pledging and showing interest. That feels amazing, and strange, and gratifying, all at the same time.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: What is LER about? I understand it's an erotica story!
BLACKLIGHT: Weeeelllll, SO glad you asked! [Laughs] LER Vol.1 will be a VERY adult, highly erotic graphic novel consisting of four different stories, told in four unique storytelling styles: prose, comic book/sequential art, pure visuals, and one told in a combination of all three. All four stories are separate, but connected via location: they take place in the same city, and characters overlap. But only to a point.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: What made you decide to go that route and can you guide us through your process of the individual styles?
BLACKLIGHT: The premise behind the choice to go after different storytelling styles was that I wanted to loosely emulate the experiences I've had reading books. In the beginning, I'm reading a book. At some point, especially if the story is good, I am immersed within the story. I stop seeing letters and words on a page and I start actually experiencing them on a visceral level. Thus, with the LER, the first story is prose: all text accompanied by a few illustrated plates—as if you'd just picked up a novel. But the second story is full-on comic book style: panels, word bubbles, all that. So the reader is moving into a visual medium, but still aided by the printed word. The third story will take this experience even further, by removing the word bubbles completely and even beginning to dissolve panel lines in some cases. Such that the reader is now "reading" along a purely visual medium. The final (and most experimental) tale will be told in a combination of all three of the preceding styles. So the reader will have traveled along the full spectrum of a journey by the end of it, having dipped into and out of the visual and prose mediums almost at random.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: I like that! What made you want to tell this story as an erotica book? I don't think it's often that I come across a "Black book" within this category genre.
BLACKLIGHT: The answer to that question is broooad and encompasses a LOT of experiences, etc. But I'll boil it down. I think that our convoluted, and oftentimes, twisted relationship to our sexuality/sensuality — as black/brown people in particular, and as people period, across all kinds of cultures and ethnicities around the globe, is one of the single most underrated issues we have. Conversely, I also believe that experiencing healthy, uplifting, non-misogynistic, delightful and tantalizing erotica can actually be a healing force for our psyches and the world at large. The LER stands for Le Erotique Randomme (totally made up, not French [Laughs])]. I wanted to add my voice in service to creation of work like that and I feel like I've got a LOT to bring to the genre.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: That is beautiful, man. Following up from that, I also want to bring up the different body types I've seen being depicted. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
BLACKLIGHT: I'd be MORE than happy to. The breakdown is basically that I am acutely aware of how often people in general, and women in particular, are bombarded on a daily basis with how many ways we are not enough. Too fat/skinny, hips too big/too small, butts too big/too small, lips, breasts, hair, skin tone/coloration, muscles, cut—so much. Every day. In virtually every form of media. I think it is part of my responsibility, as an artist who actually gives a damn about all that and wants to make a difference, to address that in my work. One super simple way to do that is to lovingly depict multiple body types in my art and have those characters play more than just supporting roles in the narratives. In this way, many more of us may see shades of ourselves in the work and rejoice in the reflections.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: What would you say has been the most challenging part of creating this book?
BLACKLIGHT: Truthfully, I can't answer that yet because I haven't yet created it. [Laughs] This Kickstarter is for precisely that. I've got the stories, scripts, verbal storyboards, character design, knowledge of the world—all that is deep into development. But completion of the artwork, and the creation, production, printing, shipping of the actual book and supporting prints—that's what this Kickstarter is for. So, at the moment, the most challenging part of creating this book is the fact that a full-blown PLAGUE is hitting the world at the exact same time I'm trying to get this funded. I do think holing up in our homes and streaming while I'm creating the actual art while conversing with backers could end up being one of THE MOST rewarding experiences if and WHEN this thing gets funded! But we shall seeeeeee..
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: Yes, we shall! I understand this isn't your first erotic book, currect? Cult of the Serpentari came about a few years ago. What was that one about and what have you learned since Serpentari to LER?
BLACKLIGHT: Cult of the Serpentari was one pretty damn big novel I eventually split up into a trilogy. It was basically an erotic fantasty adventure coming of age story about a young, bitter, angry boy who has an experience that completely transforms his life, and the lunatic erotic experiences he undergoes from that point onward.
At the time, I knew nothing about novel-writing at all, and I've since come to learn so much about the art of story construction, the addition of conflict, plot milestones, pacing, all these super crucial components to writing a good novel or a story. I am still VERY proud of the books because I got several things delightfully right with them: the erotic content itself was greeted with almost universal praise; the world I created is/was AWESOME, and I've come to view it as a sort of erotic road trip through a seriously exotic land.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: Nice. So back to the campaign, what are some reward tiers you have for the campaign?
BLACKLIGHT: Agghhh!! I've got GOODIES!! [laughs] So, along with the requisite digital download of the book, signed paperback and hardcover copies, I've got several interesting additions. To begin with, there will be three variant cover versions of the paperback. I've got exclusive digital content that includes things like WHIKKID gallery extras and pinups of the various main characters, and a collection of digital and physical prints I'm calling Collectible Story Trading Prints. As well, there are chances at original sexy sketches/drawings, custom fantasy portraits and framed original art pieces.
One of the most interesting of the rewards, I think, is that anyone backing at the hardcover tier and beyond, gets a say in what images will make the final cut for the story trading prints, the variant covers, and some of what content ends up in the galleries. I'll be streaming live and posting regular updates throughout the process, and everyone who backs will have access to the streams and the discussion, while everyone who backs at the hardcover tier and above will get actual say.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: I want to thank you so much for finding some time to chat with us about your book. Is there anything you'd like to add that you didn't get the chance to?
BLACKLIGHT: Thank YOU so much for having me here. I really appreciate the extra eyeballs on myself and this work. I'd just like to stress that my erotica is specifically designed to actually arouse and inspire joy at the same time. If you're a person out there who's maybe not tried any erotica because you're afraid of having to deal with the disgustingness, or worse yet, you've actually gone through an experience and gotten viscerally turned off, my work may be for you. I have YOU in mind much of the time as I'm creating. Because at the end of the day, I want to inspire JOY [and lust] in that order.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: What can readers do to help get you to the funded goal?
BLACKLIGHT: The first thing, obviously, would be to JUMP IN AND SUPPORT THIS PROJECT AT WHATEVER LEVEL YOU'RE COMFORTABLE! [Laughs] The Kickstarter ends on the 24th of this month. It's an opportunity to see Afro-futuristic, non-cringe-inducing erotica done in a way I'm pretty sure people have never experienced, and it's going to be a lot of FUN. The more people who pledge and share, and share the fact that they've pledged, the more folk outside of my immediate pool are willing and eager to jump in. I can use every backer I can get, but I'm ultimately elated when they happen to be backers who believe in the project and what it's bringing to the world. So if readers can check out the video, the project page, check out the rewards, see how cool it is for themselves, and then put it in front of their friends, that can go a loooooong way toward getting this thing all the way funded during this last week.
ANDERSON ELYSÉE: That was Micah BlackLight, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the interview. Definitely be sure to check out the campaign for LER: Vol.1: Technology, Myth, Fantasy, and Urban Divinity on the link HERE (ending Wed, March 25 2020 2:59 AM EDT) and share it with your friends!