Thursday, September 26, 2019

Black Rhino Illustration Lives!

Elves Working: Art Explosion
Since my last post over a year and half ago, much has changed in my personal life. My son is managing Black Rhino Illustration and Photo Grafix as I make my way in the world as a union worker for the second largest public transportation company in the United States. I live in a new town and have made new friends. However, my love for art, stories and my favorite project, Badin and the Secret of the Saami, continues.

I have barely created any new artwork to sell in the past 19 months. Whatever spare time for creative work I have is extremely limited. Yet I persist. Two special projects have continued: Badin and the Secret of the Saami Special Edition and the Sequel Project.

As of this writing, I have completed a very important milestone for the Special Edition of Badin and the Secret of the Saami: Director's Notes for each page of the sequential art portion of the book. This is over 20,000 additional words that serve as a behind-the-scenes look at why and how I composed the artwork. Next, I need to compile all of the Character Diaries that I published as part of the cross-media promotion for the graphic novel a year prior to its release. Those diaries, along with other surprises will go in the Special Edition.

The Sequel Project is still in an embryonic stage. I am vacillating between various concepts ranging from a novelization to a series of young reader titles. Each concept is being written in a haphazard fashion as I try to work out a foundation for outlines. I even experiment with random entries that seem good, but require more development. While training for various promotions at work, I have had no time to schedule writing. That will change now that I achieved the goal of Motorman (train operator or train driver).

If I am so inclined—and have time to spare—I will share my progress on this blog. However, I do keep up with posting regular social media updates on Twitter and Facebook. You may purchase the first edition of the graphic novel today at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website: http://www.badinsecret.com/shop.html

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goodbye 2017: A New Beginning.

Large Brown Bear and Little Rabbit (by me)
This was the year of Badin. Moreover, it was the year of my graphic novel, Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I sold out at Chicago's largest comic book convention. I presented the book and was an honored guest at the Museum of Ethnography in Sweden and University of Tromsø in Norway. The accomplishment of completing an historical fiction graphic novel was a glorious feat. Very few human beings can make such a claim! However, not all has been wonderful. In fact, it has been somewhat disastrous.

The perception of success and wealth for achieving this goal was the most frustrating aspect. So many people followed my progress as I posted updates and journal entries. They all assumed I was making profits and was well-off (second-hand suits and shirts can be deceiving). Quite the opposite was true. Finding work (in and outside of my industry) was especially difficult because of this false perception. Self-publishing my book—and reaping the consequences of the financial sacrifices required over the past 4 years—have been the final nail in a coffin of 18 years of self-employment.

Would I do it again? No. Would I do it if I had to start all over? Not the way I did it. I believed a little too much in my skill as a salesman, writer and artist. I put too much hope in the concept of getting a literary agent—and put very little effort into a plan of action should I be unsuccessful in obtaining said agent. Without mentioning details, a "perfect storm" of personal, financial and business misfortune brought my family and I into a pathetic financial state of affairs. The good thing about all of this is that I went out as a champion and changed a 200-year old racist narrative about a Black noble of 18th century Sweden. For the entire four years I focused on this book, I never gave up and did my best. Moreover, I do believe if I borrowed all the money needed to print the book in bulk and tour the country's comic book conventions, I could have sold out. However the debt required is a burden I am unwilling to carry. Regardless of intentions and effort, hard work does not always financial ensure success. Also, just because you do something good for humanity, that doesn't guarantee recognition while you live. This is the hard reality of following your passion.

So in January 2018, I retire from leading Photo Grafix and Black Rhino Illustration to start a new career and lift my family out of poverty! My full-time labor as an illustrator, retoucher and instructor will come to an end as I put my customer service skills into a new industry. For someone my age (I am over 40), it is not easy to change careers. I'm lucky that I have good health. I'm also lucky that my new job has a strong labor union, medical benefits and many paths toward more responsibility. I like to count my blessings.

My son and wife will continue serving current customers and manage the stock art portfolio and other on-demand courses and books that I developed over the past 18 years. That includes marketing. I'm passing this all to them and leaving them to decide the direction (and ask me what they want to know). Meanwhile, I will focus on training for my new career. This will also include ongoing continuing education and an attempt to re-enroll in college and obtain the credits required to [finally] earn my undergraduate degree.

My love for art and teaching remains strong, however. There is still the unfulfilled Badin and the Secret of the Saami Book Tour (the fundraiser is still live), a Swedish version of the book (completed, but not repaginated), a Special Edition AND a sequel. There is also my love for creating stock art (I have a portfolio of over 7,000 illustrations represented by agencies around the world). I also enjoy teaching occasional webinars and workshops about photo restoration. So after I finish training for my new position, pass through the probationary period and build up seniority to have a schedule, I will tend to these special projects on a very limited basis.

To those of you who believed in me and my efforts, I thank you! It has been a wonderful journey. I hope and pray that I brought some happiness and enlightenment into your lives.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It is almost over

As I sit in a train car near one of the world’s largest mines, I wanted to assess the value of the past two and a half weeks. The end of my journey in Scandinavia is coming soon. I met, learned from and shared with many people. I proved to others and myself that Badin and the Secret of the Saami is a valuable tool to inspire and teach adults and children. I was blessed with trials and triumphs. If I never return again, I feel at ease that I did my absolute best. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Natural Allies: The Saami and the Afroswedes



Natural Allies: The Saami and the Afroswedes
You are invited to an open lecture entitled: Natural Allies: The Saami and the Afroswedes with guest lecturer, graphic novelist, Eric C. M. Basir, from Chicago, Illinois. Eric will share his motivation and methods for incorporating South Saami culture into his recently released historical fiction graphic novel Badin and the Secret of the Saami (2017).

The lecture is held in conjunction with HIF-3620 Indigenous Revitalization: Languages, Literatures and Arts course. The lecture is open to everyone, but students and researchers with an interest in Indigenous, diaspora, and minority representation and issues, graphic novels, and transmedial narrative are especially encouraged to attend.

Date: Monday, October 16th, 2017
Time: 13.15
Room: TEO H4 4.262

Official webpage:  http://www.badinsecret.com/


Contact: Ellen Marie Jensen
Lector, Indigenous Studies
Ellen.marie.jensen@uit.no

Special thanks to Ellen Marie Jensen for writing this description.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Going Back to Sweden for Badin

If all goes according to plan, a week from the time I write this, I'll be in Sweden. I hope to post regular updates about the trip and include pictures and video. So far some events are scheduled. Others are not yet confirmed or not public. Some of my time in Norway will be with students at Folkhøgskolan. Here's what I have confirmed so far:

October 4: A Night about Afroswedes at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, Sweden. Special thanks to Kitimbwa Sabuni and Michael Law-Barrett for making this happen.

October 16: Natural Allies: The Saami and the Afroswedes at the University of Tromsø in Norway. Special thanks to Åsa Virdi Kroik and Ellen Marie Jensen for arranging everything. I also thank Terry Marttinen for inspiring the title of this lecture. She is a Medical Historian specializing in the history of colonial genetics.

Again, there are many things up in the air and I'd rather not put them out here until they are confirmed. Stay tuned through Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Working For a Better Sweden—and the World

Part of the website promoting my return to Sweden
Four years ago in October, I swore I would never return to Sweden. I hated the country, the white people who lived there—and in the USA—and could not wait to get over the pain of a humiliating experience.

However I did it for my mother and her family. They had lost all contact with relatives in Sweden almost a century ago and I became the bridge to reunite them. That was a worthy sacrifice.

Nowadays, I just hate one white person (he's actually more like an orange person with raccoon eyes and hideous comb-over). However, I have never met a Swede that likes him either.

Much has changed. In fact, thanks to my fellow Afroswedish brothers Kitimbwa Sabuni and Michael Law-Barrett, I have been invited back to Sweden as an honored guest at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm for a series of events during Black Swedish History Week. However, this time I'm not going as recipient for a gift from the Swedish people. I am going as a gift-giver to the Swedish people: The sharing of a tool to heal the divisions in its society through a completed graphic novel about—and a full vindication of slander for—Sweden's most famous citizen of African descent: Adolf Ludvig Gustav Fredrik Albert Badin.

As a supporter of my work, I need to ask for your immediate help. No, I won't bother you about my 2018 book tour right now. I have something more immediate: If you live in Sweden, I need you to attend this event—and events through October 7. Moreover, I need you to invite politicians, community organizers and religious leaders. This includes media.

Frankly, I have had very poor luck getting any response from anyone! I believe all my email messages are being sent to junk mail. I especially need to meet with the Swedish government's Minister of Culture: Ms. Alice Bah-Kuhnke. I can do this while I am in Stockholm. I hope she and others can come to me while I'm at the museum. However, I think I can arrange ways to meet with them in their offices. It is important that we get the ball rolling for an official government recognition of Badin as a member of the Royal Family and a Prince of Sweden.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

One Month Until I Go To Sweden!

A snapshot of the program brochure draft
In a little over one month, I will return to Sweden as a guest panelist for a program at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm.

I am very excited to be on this panel. We will talk about historical pictures of Black Swedes. This panel will be moderated by Ylva Havel of Södertörn University. With me will be art historian Catherine Anyango-Grünwald and Joachim Östlund from the University of Lund.

It made me so happy to see that Michael Law Barret and the team at the museum used my re-imagined portrait of Badin in the brochure (top-left). I have been studying the Swedish language for 3 years now. So I am hoping it comes in handy, as the other two segments will be in Swedish.

Do you remember my book tour in Sweden? Well, it's still going to happen. Unfortunately, due to my failure to raise enough money in time, it must be postponed until 2018. So please spread the word and contribute. I need your help to inspire a new generation with a new folk hero: Sweden's forgotten Black Prince: Badin.