Comic book writers Christian Cooper and Melody Cooper hit the headlines this year when they posted a video taken going for a birdwatching stroll in Central Park. But it's more welcome headlines they are getting today.
She's one of the lead creators in Noir is the New Black, a new black noir comic book anthology being Kickstartered today. Black Noir is a variation on the Noir fiction genre popularized by writers like Dashiell Hammett or Mikey Spillane. Except Black Noir blends this classic style with an African American point of view. This includes the work of novelists such as Walter Mosley, Chester Himes or Paula L. Woods, or modern directors like John Singleton, Carl Franklin, F.Gary Gray and Spike Lee have explored the Black Noir genre in their films.
While many comics and graphic novel have featured Black Noir stories through the years, Noir is the New Black has gathered a number together in one place, a collection of thirteen, short stories from the past, present and future.
Writer Brandon Thomas, co-creator of Image comic book Excellence, says "Noir is the embrace of everything that makes human beings weak, and selfish, and compromised. We're drawn to it because we're hoping against hope that everything we see, everything we feel, isn't who we really are. That most people are capable of redemption, of returning from the brink, even though we know, deep down, that so many are not. Noir reveals the truth about us…and it hurts."
Writer Melody Cooper (2019 HBO Access Fellow) adds: "What happens when you use a different lens to explore ignored shades of nuance in the Black experience? You get the beautiful dark and blinding light that lets us examine the past, confront the present, and re-imagine the future through the Black gaze of a new Noir."
Artist N.Steven Harris (Michael Cray, Watson & Holmes) even powerfully sums it up: "Black Noir is Black Black without trying, just being. Pushing and breaking boundaries we use to be told were there, because Black won't sell, whites won't understand, not what they want see. Well, but what about what I/we want to see? Our visons matter! Black visons matter."
Noir is the New Black's publisher FairSquare Comics also used the hashtag #DrawingWhileBlack to recruit a next generation of talents as well as creators who've been around for a long time but unknown. Filing the anthology with a total of 25 writers, artists, color artists and letters, most of them Black Americans, but also a handful coming from France, Italy and Canada.
TC Harris, co-editor of the anthology shares how it all began: "Representation is one of the most powerful tools to promote the change many have been demanding, and I am blessed to be among those who'll bring this volume to the world. Like any good origin story, my journey to started off as somewhat of a tragedy, ultimately culminating in me arriving at just where I needed to be. A chance encounter with Fabrice Sapolsky back in 2017 has led to a wonderful mentorship, partnership and I'm blessed to say, friendship. I cannot express how excited I am at the prospect of getting this anthology into your hands. Why am I passionate about Black Noir? Namely, because I'm living it!"
The Noir is the New Black will debut, through Kickstarter on July 22nd,2020 at 9AM EST and will run for 30 days.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Brandon Thomas (Excellence), Greg Burnham (Tuskegee Heirs), Sanford Greene (Bitter Root), Koi Turnbull (Fathom), Brandon Easton (Judge Dredd), Melody Cooper (OMNI), Christian Cooper (Starfleet Academy), Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs), MD Marie (Vindication), Don Walker (Agent: Wild), Hannibal Tabu (Artifacts), Frank Yeiger (Sword of the Free), Greg A. Elysee (Is'Nana: The Were Spider), Regine Sawyer (Ice Witch), N.Steven Harris (Michael Cray), Sylvain Despretz (Storyboarder for Ridley Scott and Guillermo Del Toro — among others), Ray-Anthony Height (Miles Morales, Midnight Tiger), Afua Richardson (World of ), Dorphise Jean, Vlad Alexis, David Brame, Mel Milton, Teena Stone, Karen S. Darboe, Guile and more to be announced. FairSquare Comics LLC was created in June 2019 to develop, publish and distribute new comics created by Fabrice Sapolsky and his amazing friends. FairSquare Comics' mission statement is to publish, promote and give more space to immigrant and under-represented creators of the world. What we call "comics for the rest of us".