Sunday, October 23, 2016

Composition and the Saami Lead Character in Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Badin and the Secret of the Saami close up abstract
The Queen of Sweden Meets Saami Leader Gaaktu
As I color the pages for the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel, I share close up screen shots from each finished page. You can keep up with them on the Black Rhino Illustration Twitter page and the Badin and the Secret of the Saami Facebook page. They are abstract and spoiler free.

Gaaktu is distinguished with his high collar—a characteristic found in traditional Saami clothing. The collar not only keeps one warm in cooler climates, but it is often decorated with symbols unique to one's particular language and ethnic group within Saami culture. Gaaktu and his ethnic group are entirely fictional. However they are distinctly South Saami—a language group that is currently endangered in Sweden.

Gaaktu in hat
If you read the graphic novel (due May 1, 2017), you will notice that I am very intentional about composition with this particular Saami character. I put him at either eye-level or above the Swedish characters as he symbolizes the value of nature and the original people in their connection to the universe. Yet, by his nature and behavior, he is the most humble and wise of all characters in the graphic novel.

Although the Queen (Lovisa Ulrika) is "powerful," so is Gaaktu. He is the "king" of his people and you will see that he is clear about his purpose in this life and that he will not tolerate her bigotry. Despite the fact that the Queen assumes he is there to petition her for something, she begins to discover that he is there for something she needs.

In this meeting with Queen Lovisa Ulrika, I don't want the reader to get the idea that the Saami people are inferiors in the Kingdom of Sweden. As Saami American activist Kurt Seaberg inspired in me over a year ago when I was writing the script: The Saami are active survivors in European history—not submissive or passive specters in the darkness of its shadow.

Learn more at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel project official website. Mini-sagas 1,2 and 3 are available. Get the story behind the story and buy the Mini-Sagas today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kraken: The Third Mini-Saga is On Sale!

The cover for Mini-Saga #3
September 1, 1761: Beggars and wretches escaping fallen nations are burdening the Kingdom of Sweden. The land and treasure is becoming scarcer. Famines linger with colder and longer winters.

The preceding paragraph is from the introduction of Kraken. Also designated as Mini-Saga #3 for the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel project, this story takes place almost one year before the events of the graphic novel occur. It also introduces the readers to a passionate character with both antagonistic and protagonist characteristics.

This was actually the first Mini-Saga I wrote and illustrated. It was a convenient experiment for putting the comic book layout functions of Clip Studio Paint to the test. It also served as a launching pad for the fonts I purchased which would be used throughout the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel project. However, since the first Mini-Saga had to be dedicated to the first people of Sweden (the Saami) and the second to 10th century Arab explorer Ahmed Ibn Fadlan, it had to wait until now.

The Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel is an incredibly important story motivated by the ideals of justice. To achieve any degree of lasting peace, justice must be present. The desire to give the historical Afrosvenskar (Black Swede) Badin nee Couchi a dignified place in Scandinavian literature is paramount in setting the first stage of justice. By translating and making public Badin's diary, I was able to prove the real historical figure was highly intelligent and insightful. By writing and illustrating Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I hope to make an historical fiction story unlike any that has been done about him by numerous authors in the past. It will vindicate him of all the racist slander.

Kraken is also about justice. However, it is described from a perspective based in fear. As I write this, men and women who fear the loss of power are appealing to masses of people who fear the loss of benefits to which they feel cannot be shared with those who look different than them. So authorities establish and maintain structures that contain potential revolts. Kraken briefly documents actual historical facts about how such systems were established and used in continued domination over Saami, Native American, Asian and African people.

What we perceive to be good, may be bad for others. The product of bad things can lead to redemptive outcomes for all. Can a synthesis between such perceptions exist in any society? I explore this concept within the context of 18th century and 21st century Sweden.

The fourth and final Mini-Saga has been written. It is called Mirror and it will feature the star character, Badin. The cover and synopsis is online at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website.

Please purchase and tell all of your friends and family about Kraken. Your support is needed and appreciated. Please read the character diaries as well. They are free and will continue to be so through May 1, 2017.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Badin and the Secret of the Saami - All Inking Done!

Screen shot of all 90 pages of artwork!
A major milestone for the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel project has been achieved. The inking stage is at the peak of the mountain of work in its production. It is done. All 90 pages!

If you have been following this blog over the past year and half, you have read about how hard it was to get this far. Needless to say, I am relieved. Although coloring is not easy, I do not feel the same pressure I did to get from concept, to pencil and to inking.

Now I can continue with the character diaries, trying to get a literary agent and making up for all the income and social life lost while I focused on this part of the project. Working on this project came during the worst time in my life with mental illness nearly tearing my family into shreds. As a friend told me: Life is born in the darkness of the womb.

That brings up the topic of the social impact Badin and the Secret of the Saami could have upon the world (especially in Sweden). This is a story about real people that existed in Sweden during the years of 1761-1762. But the story is fictional. Hence, the classification: Historical fiction. The only fictional main character is Gaaktu. However, his culture—South Saami—is not fictional.

The Saami people have survived ethnic cleansing and genocide over the millennia. They have played an important role in the history of Sweden. Yet they are not always treated as such. South Saami are especially important in that they are very few in number and have always had a stronger presence in the more populated parts of Sweden.

Badin and Gaaktu to very important to the progress of the story—and in modern day Sweden, Europe and the United States. There Blacks that live there now have an opportunity to learn about the ancient history and traditions of the Saami people. That could help them to make Sweden a better place for all people. How? It is not a simple answer. However, if one keeps an open mind and heart, it will reveal itself. Hopefully, Badin and the Secret of the Saami will inspire a relationship between those considered as foreigners and the indigenous people.

May 1, 2017 is the scheduled release date for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. New fascinating and fun character diaries are uploaded every other week. Two more Mini-Sagas are already finished and being edited for release before that time. If you have not read the first two, you don't know what you're missing! Buy the Mini-Sagas through Lulu at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Finished inking Act 3 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Inking done for Badin and the Secret of the Saami Acts 1,2 and 3!
Only 24 pages remain to be inked for Badin and the Secret of the Saami! This revolutionary historical fiction graphic novel project consists of four acts. That means 75% of the hardest part is done. I am happy.

I am also thrilled to announce that Badin's historical fiction diary entries are being hosted on the Black Archeological Research Society Facebook group. Special thanks to Omri Cooke for the help. As mentioned in the previous blog entry, Peter Ericson's South Saami History Blog is hosting Gaaktu's diary entries. If you own a blog or website and would like some fascinating and fun historical fiction content, check out the Badin and the Secret of the Saami character page, find your favorite character and let me know!

Another great gift of support came from the podcast interview by Dr. Tisa Muhammad. For one hour we discussed the historical Badin and the graphic novel. Please listen to it on-demand. It was great!

Badin and the Secret of the Saami is about hope, friendship and the reasons why respect for indigenous and immigrant people can benefit society. Although the graphic novel is not scheduled for release until May 1, 2017, you can access weekly diary entries from the six principal characters on the Badin and the Secret of the Saami character page.

There will be many things that the characters write about that allude to events that will occur in the graphic novel. So as you read, pay close attention. You will also enjoy the little artwork pieces I create for the entries. Get to know my characters. So far, my favorites are Badin and Gaaktu. But you'll love all of them!

Also, there are two Mini-Sagas on sale to get your appetite going. As soon as I finish the graphic novel coloring, I plan to finish up the third Mini-Saga and prepare for the final and fourth Mini-Saga. Meanwhile, I really need your help to promote the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website. Will you help me? Please? I am a man of poor financial resources and cannot afford advertising. So I need just a few moments of your time to email, tweet or share the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website.

Please stay up to date with my progress at these links:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Progress 2016-06-19
Did you know the Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel project has a dedicate website and Facebook page?

That is where you can get all the good stuff. This blog serves as a center for all of my artistic work—including behind-the-scenes work on the graphic novel.

On June 19, Mr. Omri Coke wrote a wonderful article about Badin's history and my efforts to translate his diary, along with the graphic novel project. He is writing a series of articles about Black history in Europe. I am really appreciative of such news. It's quite motivational!

I am now finished with the layout and lettering for Act 3. I was on a mad dash to complete all stages except color. But I found too many little problems with the script which required on-the-fly changes.

So to avoid having to possibly redo finished artwork, I'm lettering the rest of the graphic novel. Once that is done, I can do the loose penciling, final penciling and inking. My goal is to have everything except color finished by the end of July 2016.

Snapshot closeup of screen with panel
Lettering is the part where I put in the dialog and narration text. I also layout the panels with respect to my thumbnail sketches.

Thank you for your support. Please remember to read the bi-weekly diary entries for the main characters. They are short, fun, educational and include unique illustrations. If you want to browse an overview of the diaries published so far, see the Notes section of the Badin and the Secret of the Saami Facebook Page.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Finished Inking Act 2 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Close up views on panels
Abstract from Act 2
It is with great joy to announce that I have now completed the layout, lettering and inking phases for all of Act 1 and Act 2 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Unfortunately, besides the extreme close up abstract teaser pictures I share on the Black Rhino Illustration Twitter page, I cannot show you the work.

I am not thrilled with quality of my work. However, when a panel is done, I move on. That is not to say that I do not make changes when needed—and such changes have set me back over a week behind schedule. I just cannot expect perfection. My goal is to have everything inked by the end of July.

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying reading the diaries of the characters. They are so much fun to write. I put much time into researching Swedish history. So to use it for extra promotion of the graphic novel seems appropriate. The drawings are fun too. I keep them somewhat generic so I can sell them as stock art. I do not sell graphic novel artwork as stock art, however.

I am also excited that Peter Ericson of the South Saami History Blog hosts the diaries of Gaaktu. Mr. Ericson is a Swedish man of well-documented Sámi ancestry who does intense research. His blog is the only accessible source for South Sámi history of significance on the internet. Since my character Gaaktu, is South Sámi, this was the perfect fit. I am very grateful for Mr. Ericson's generosity.

Please spread the word about Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Help me. I need it and the world needs to know this story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Curly Hair, Swedish and Finishing a Graphic Novel

Swedish flag with Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Although I was oblivious to it as a small child, my Swedish-American mother endured this curious statement from other white people from time to time: "Where did your boy get that curly hair?" they would ask. 
"From his father!" she quipped with guarded annoyance. "Where else!?"

You see, no matter where I live, or who I am, I never really "fit in." The only way I accomplished such a status was when I accepted my Blackness and made a place for myself. Then I knew I could contribute to the society and be a part of making it better. Denying it because I was light skinned and could "pass" compared to my darker-skinned fellow humans never helped.

So when I wrote Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I could easily relate to the little African boy who grew up to become the famous African diasporan of Scandinavia. I did not need to put myself in his shoes. I WAS in his shoes. Like him, I struggled with racism and identity. Like him, I had a caring white mother who made sure I could have any amount of education and pursue all interests that I desired.

But I always knew I had to do something to help people of African descent feel good about themselves to take their place as contributors to their nations and communities.

With Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I want to show that not only should Blacks and Indigenous people feel good about their valuable history, but that ALL people can be inspired to make a better world and future for our children.

Please join me on this mission. Buy the Mini-Sagas, follow and read the character diaries. Two more Mini-sagas are on the way. New character diaries are uploaded every week. We have about a year until this graphic novel will be put on sale. I need your support by sharing, re-tweeting and spreading the word about this project.