Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mirror: The Final Mini-Saga is On Sale!

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Mini-Saga
The final Mini-Saga
Who is Badin? Why is he so important, that an entire trans-media project had to be created about him?

One must understand that no life lived is meaningless. However, Badin's life was exceptional. He lived long into his 70's (possibly 80's). He left his wife with property and wealth. He was a patriot for the Kingdom of Sweden. He was polyglot. He was also skilled the application of science. The privileges he had were never wasted. His diary proves that he was not a clown nor a brutish, sexual deviant.

The Mirror Mini-Saga is the world's first introduction of Badin as a heroic historical fiction character in a graphic novel. In fact, he was that in real history. The forthcoming graphic novel will explore aspects the historical man and demonstrate the importance of respecting unassuming people in the onward march of human enlightenment and progress.

As an artist, completing this final Mini-Saga brings great joy. When I wrote the first script, along with the previous three Mini-Sagas, I had no idea they would turn out this way. In fact, the rough thumbnail sketches and layout and for this one changed many times. Settling a large scene for the first page seemed perfect. I am also happy because now the world can see Badin in a new way: An intelligent and ambitious young adult son of the Queen of Sweden.

I really hope you like and are inspired by Badin as I have been. I especially want non-white Swedes to have great pride for this special human being.

Shop for Mirror and the other Mini-Sagas at the website for Badin and the Secret of the Saami today!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

All artwork complete for Badin and the Secret of the Saami (2016-12-04)

The Queen with lantern
Queen Lovisa Ulrika in a scene from the graphic novel
On this dark, snowy and cold December 4th, I am proud to announce that I have completed the inking, lettering and coloring for all ninety pages in my Badin and the Secret of the Saami graphic novel. This is a glorious day.

I have sacrificed much for this project. I have also realized that my wife and son believed in it more than myself. In all my moments of "I don't think I can do this anymore" exasperations, they emphatically told me I could—and should—do it. Technically, the book is unfinished: Front matter, table of contents, cast of characters, chapter title pages and glossary sections are still needed. Compared to the artwork for the story, that is easy stuff!

I am relieved because I have neglected pursuing paid work and allowed our financial situation to worsen. Starting tomorrow, I can carry on with my normal schedule without the anxiety of finishing the artwork. I have my doubt that this project will bring any prosperity. However, it was never truly a capitalistic venture. It is more important than money.

This project is important because it is a weapon against racism and xenophobia. It is also a beacon of hope for humanity. At the cornerstone is an adopted African child and an indigenous Saami man. The African child represents the first and most underappreciated and feared persons in the human family: Black males. The indigenous man represents the humble and ancient guardians of nature in Europe: The resilient Saami people. All of this takes place during the 18th century in my mother's ancestral homeland of Sweden.

Prior to the release of the graphic novel on May 1, 2017, there will be one more Mini-Saga (extremely short story). This one features the star character, Badin. It is called "Mirror." I encourage you to read this and the previously published booklets and share the news about the Badin and the Secret of the Saami project with your friends and family. Please help me by purchasing the Mini-Sagas, reading and telling others about this them. I plan to use the money to hire an editor and translators for the book.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Act 3 Colored!

At left is a screen shot of the entire Act III in Badin and the Secret of the Saami as laid out in Adobe Indesign CS3. The artwork pages are done in Clip Studio Paint. But I wanted to create the book itself in a dedicated layout program.

It has been over a year since this project began and I am grateful to be the vessel through whom Badin will live again—but this time as a legendary figure who Swedes and others can admire. For hundreds of years this highly intelligent and wealthy Black Swede was slandered and mocked as an idiot, hyper-sexual beast or slave.

On May 1, 2017, I want to re-introduce Sweden—and the world—to the Black Prince they never knew. He was a hero in real history. And he was a super-natural hero in this graphic novel. I want Sweden and the world also to respect and follow the example of the indigenous people known as the Saami so we can preserve our future on this planet.

I have sacrificed much to work on this project—and have starved my businesses of the attention they needed. At this point, things are so bad, I do not think I can reverse it. Worse, my family has suffered economically. When this graphic novel is published, I hope it will launch Black Rhino Illustration into a respectable brand. However, the lack of interest from literary agents and others have left me with very few options but to self-publish through my own self-funding and/or Kickstarter.

At this point I am desperate as I know this is a story that is needed—and it is good. So I have taken steps to focus almost completely on coloring the final act and getting ready for a change which should bring my family the financial security it needs and give me time to save the money needed for editing and translations.

Mini-Saga #4 and the deadline for this book are still on. Please spread the word about Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Help me, please. Help me to present this story and help make a better world for our progeny.

Learn about the story behind the story and read. Mini-Sagas 1, 2 and 3. Buy them today at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami official website.

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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Beginnings: Badin and the Secret of the Saami

The face of
Home page for

On this day of May 1, 2016, I am very excited to announce the official website for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This is the main website for an historical fiction graphic novel about the Swedish Queen’s young adopted son, Badin, and his siblings in an adventure to save the future of humanity.

The website will feature the characters, information about the story, the real Badin and a storefront (Every graphic novel needs official tee shirts!)

The characters section lists the main characters, their basic attributes and links to their Twitter pages. Yes, that's right. Each of the main characters will be writing short journal entries from today until May 1, 2017, when I plan to have the graphic novel in your hands.

I encourage you to go there today and follow the characters that interest you the most. I know you will enjoy reading—and interacting with them—during their day-to-day lives. I have put alot of time into Swedish and Saami cultural and historical research and am looking forward to telling their stories. If you don't use Twitter, you can view their entries at the new Badin and the Secret of the Saami Facebook Page. Each of the six characters will get one day for entries. In the world of writing, this is called "Twitter Fiction." These entries will be completely free and accessible to all.

The first day of May is an important Swedish holiday that symbolizes new and exciting times. The dead of winter—and the old ways—melts away with the snow and is replaced by the fresh green new growth of life. Badin was a fresh new addition to the rigid and cold ways of the Swedish Royal Court. The Saami people are just as unique to Sweden, but with a deeper connection to the land that is and always was theirs. The synergy of the two will bring salvation to the Kingdom of Sweden and humanity.

Please take a few minutes to view this video I made on May 1st Eve in commemoration of the website. After watching, please rate it with a thumbs up and SHARE it. Liking videos and posts are appreciated. However, with a project of such significance, sharing the link and re-tweeting brings much more attention. Help me share this wonderful story about friendship, adventure and the great power of science and mythology in the wonderful land called Sweden.

If you are curious why I am so enthusiastic about Swedish history, these videos about my trip to Sweden for Allt För Sverige will be quite informative!

Characters Twitter diaries links:
Badin and the Secret of the Saami Facebook Page:
Badin and the Secret of the Saami Official Website:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Big Announcement May 1, 2016 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Screenshot from Badin and the Secret of the Saami
Strange, but true!
I have bigger plans than I originally imagined for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. As I have been finishing up the final artwork, two Mini-Saga editions have been published and efforts to promote it have constantly been refined.

The ultimate plan has been put on paper and will be revealed on May 1, 2016. With this plan, I hope to make this graphic novel project the most memorable and enjoyable experience for all ages.

Stay tuned here or on Twitter and Facebook as the day approaches. You can use the search hashtag #BadinSecret as well.

The picture at left is a screen shot of the pencil and inking process for a pair of panels in Act 2 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

New promotion sketches for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Star players in Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I have written before that Badin and the Secret of the Saami is the greatest endeavor I have taken upon myself in my entire life. 

Compounded with somewhat crippling financial and personal setbacks, this is the worst time to be working on a project for no pay. Nonetheless, I believe sacrifices must be made in order to work for a bigger cause than myself. Conversely, with great sacrifice and suffering comes strength of character and greater resilience.

If I can die knowing that someone who read the Graphic Novel or the Mini-Sagas gains a new or greater respect for Sweden, the immigrants and Africans like Badin who have contributed to its culture and the indigenous Saami people who live there, I will know that my sacrifice was worth it.

The image above are six digital sketches for all of the headline characters (I'm leaving the villain out for now):

Anna Olsdotter: Peasant girl
Badin: The star of the show
Gaaktu: Brave leader of a South Saami community
Gustav III: Crown Prince of Sweden
Queen Lovisa Ulrika: Matriarch of Sweden
Sofia Albertina: Young Princess of Sweden

If you have been following my progress since last year you will notice the addition of a new face: Anna Olsdotter. She is a very special character for the story and for my own personal (secret) reason. The final inked and colored versions of which will be used for a major marketing push that I plan to reveal on May 1, 2016. I am confident that this new push will help the graphic novel stand out amongst its peers by endearing new and current followers to the above characters.

Since I have no money to spend on advertising I will need to rely on my own efforts by any means necessary, readers, friends and family to spread the word. We have postcards, this blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter hastag #BadinSecret. However, that is not enough. Stick around until May 1st and see.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Traveler - The Second Minisaga for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Traveler is the second puzzle piece for a complex and wonderful story about a Swedish man of African descent. I am very excited and I want you to buy it now. You will be moved.

This is the first of its kind in historical fiction: A combination of sequential art and short story prose with a deep educational component.

Traveler introduces a famous 10th century Arab explorer with a new twist. What would an Arab explorer be doing in Sweden and what connection could it possibly have to Badin in the 18th century or the Saami people? Read the Traveler to find out.

This mini-saga is exclusive and not included in the upcoming graphic novel.

For some behind-the-scenes video of the production of artwork in Traveler, watch these videos from the Black Rhino Illustration YouTube Channel:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Literary Agent Rejections for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

After completing the final art for Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I embarked on an 8 hour binge of combing the internet for literary agents who are looking for graphic novel writers. I narrowed it down to 14. I methodically submitted requests for representation and prayed for the best.

As of today—a week later—about half declined to assist me in finding a publisher. The replies were standard and cordial. I am a little disappointed. However, my story is controversial and the artwork is not fancy—and in some cases unorthodox. Also, it about Swedes, Saami people and an African child. Many Americans don't consider that interesting (unfortunately).

However, I will keep trying as I work. Regardless, I plan to finish three more mini-sagas (buy Vaarvaa at Lulu today!) and the graphic novel this year. If no one wants to represent me, I will represent myself. I am used to self-publishing and I have no fears about knocking on doors and asking people and businesses to carry it.

At left is an ink-only abstract from the upcoming Mini-Saga "The Traveler." I created it with Clip Studio Paint. This one will be 2 pages of art and about 3 pages of text. I'm almost done with it. I am looking for an April release. It is heavy! Those who buy it will be in for a treat and a big shocker when they read the graphic novel. The Mini-sagas are not included in the graphic novel. So if you think you can "wait it out" I would not recommend it. I do plan a special edition graphic novel that will include the, but that may not be finished until late 2018. The special edition will contain concept art, related articles and art directors notes.

As I grow with the creation of the graphic novel's Act 2, 3 and 4, I have realized that this story is a powerful weapon against xenophobia, racism and—to a small, but significant degree—Islamophobia. I need your support to help me fight the rising tide of hatred that is growing in the United States and Europe for immigrants. We are in a time of great danger. Please buy, read and invite others to buy and read Vaarvaa, the upcoming mini-sagas and the graphic novel. Use the posters and avatars. Let's get the word out now!

Thank you for your support.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Act I Final Art Complete for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Abstract from Act 1
A year ago today I began preparation for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the translation of Gustaf Adolph Badin's diary. Thanks to generous friends and family, it was very successful and now the real Badin's diary is free for the entire English speaking world.

Also as of today, I can proudly announce that the first of four Acts for Badin and the Secret of the Saami is complete! Complete as in all ink, color and lettering (the hardest part), that is. There is still some more editing of text and artwork required. Some things I am not happy with and must leave along until I complete the entire graphic novel. Nonetheless, it is ready to start "shopping" around for a literary agent. Even if I do not snag an agent, I will not let that stop me from self-publishing. However, if I do, it might mean I can be more financially secure as I proceed over the next few months.

All of the main characters—including villains—have been introduced. They live my mind and to see them finished on paper is truly inspiring. Speaking of inspiration, I have been sending the art to a select few around the world. One of them is a man named Donald Clayborn. He spent many, many years in Sweden and Denmark gathering information about Badin in the 1980's. Needless to say, he has been a crucial source for my research of Badin, Queen Mother Lovisa Ulrika and King Gustav III.  Mr. Clayborn has told me that what he sees me doing makes him proud. That is something I do not take lightly because Mr. Clayborn is a serious no-nonsense man. I hope to write more about him in later posts.

I do not like complacency. So I am not taking a break from my work (with the exception of writing this blog entry). Today, I created the page files for Act 2 and built the layout for Mini-Saga #2: Ahmed. Hopefully, you have purchased Mini-Saga #1: Vaarvaa. If not, please do so. You will not regret it!

My plans are to release four Mini-Sagas leading up to the graphic novel. Some people are under the impression that the Mini-Sagas are samples of the graphic novel. They are exclusive PDF stories that will not be in the graphic novel. However, in another year or two I plan to create a special edition which will include them (along with all kinds of extras such as Art Director's notes to explain all the pages and the symbolism behind their composition). Before that I still will need to release the graphic novel in Swedish, Sámi and French. So don't wait.

The Mini-Sagas have been written and will be a unique blend of sequential art and text. As with Vaarvaa, there will be an educational component. Here's a list of the Mini-Saga titles (subject to change):

#1 Vaarvaa (released)
#2 Traveler (script and artwork complete; still editing)
#3 Kraken (script and artwork complete; still editing)
#4 The Mirror (script complete)

On the marketing front, I have established a Twitter hashtag #BadinSecret. I'm still new to this realm of advertising. So please feel free to offer any suggestions. I am experimenting with it for my children's books and it seems to be generating more buzz. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Introducing Gaaktu for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Free hi-res download!
There would be no "Saami" in the title of Badin and the Secret of the Saami without this special main character. His name is Gaaktu. He is an extremely humble, yet strong man. I actually wrote his personality based on some real people of Saami ancestry who I interviewed.

In the poster, Gaaktu is on the left and a young—very anxious looking—Badin is on the right.  Destiny is the title of the poster. Badin is a big part of Gaaktu's destiny and vice-a-versa. If you read the Vaarvaa mini-saga, you will probably get a good a idea what their relationship symbolizes.

On his model sheet, I classify him as most honorable. You can liken him to a trusted uncle. In some regards you might even trust him more than your own father or mother. Simply put, he has nothing on which to judge your actions.

There are many Saami characters in the story. However he is the lead. You will see some clues in the poster about his culture. The colors red and green are very important. Same with his hat.

Although Gaaktu and his Siida (community) are fictional, I based them off of elements in the very old South Saami culture found in central-south Sweden. Every Saami community generally has its own selection of colors and designs in their clothing. I spent many hours of research to create such a culture for Gaaktu's people. Everything about it is symbolic and it relates to the Vaarvaa mini-saga and the graphic novel. In the Special Edition of the graphic novel I plan to include all the details about Gaaktu's Siida. You might be able to figure some of that out if you read the Vaarvaa mini-saga. But I have no spoilers for you here!

I appreciate your support. This is graphic novel project with which I hope to counter racial prejudice, xenophobia and greed. It is the most ambitious—and expensive—undertaking I have embarked upon in my lifetime. Please download and post these social networking avatars and banners. Of course, it's all free. So please help me spread the word!

Here's an avatar featuring Gaaktu you can use:

Here's an avatar of Badin also free to use:

Finally, a Facebook profile page image:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Page 15 Done for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

A forest scene abstract from page 15
I have been so deep into Badin and the Secret of the Saami that I have not been able to take time to create a thoughtful journal entry.

I also have been struggling with family issues and trying to keep my general retouching and illustration business afloat. Life is very hard for me right now and I fight daily with the urge to just give up on any hopes of being a full-time artist along with finishing an 80 page graphic novel.

Talking about Sweden
Nevertheless, the desire to complete this project is growing intensely as time passes—and I continue to invest huge chunks of my time into it (With this project and regular work, I am averaging 50 hours of solid work per week). When I think about the Black pioneers like Badin and the people of Sweden and the friends who want me to finish this, I get the inspiration I need to break the barrier of self-doubt. I was recently inspired by a friend name Donelle who invited me to bring my books and postcards for Badin and the Secret of the Saami and help her represent Sweden for International Day at MCC Academy. When you meet people like that—the type who go out of their way to help you succeed—I remember that there is a Divine Hand involved in all things. We just need to have faith in what we are born to accomplish.

I am still conducting research in the midst of completing the mini-sagas in addition to training myself on drawing certain objects such as trees and animals (You can buy the latest mini-sagas here). Some may think it easy to draw mundane object. It is not. This is especially true when trying to capture the essence of specific flora and fauna. Trees in Sweden are typically not found in Boliva. So the forests will look different. I have to capture that "look" of Sweden.

I think I have some of the general 18th century fashion down. The characters are also coming to life. Page 15 introduces the main Saami character. He will be featured along with Badin in the next promotional poster (Download the previously released posters here).

As of this morning, I have 4 more pages for Act I. With this, I plan to actively pursue an agent—also while finishing the other acts. Thank you for your support!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Vaarvaa - The First Minisaga for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I have reached an important milestone for Badin and the Secret of the Saami with the release of Vaarvaa. It is the perfect herald for the story. I cannot offer any spoilers. It's short. It's deep. It is the introduction of the forthcoming graphic novel.

I plan to publish 2 or 3 more mini-sagas. These are exclusive online only editions that will not be included in the graphic novel. However, I do intend to include them in the Special Edition of the graphic novel. The Special Edition will be a much more expensive and expansive book with Director's Notes, non-fiction history, behind-the-scenes and concept artwork.

Please buy Vaarvaa at my Lulu store.

I also uploaded a video about the illustration part of the minisaga. Most of it is text. But the art part had alot of planning. Check it out video. Then buy the minisaga.

Monday, February 1, 2016

First Vignette is Almost Finished - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I just finished the color and lettering for the first introductory vignette for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. It is called "Vaarvaa." These are called vignettes because the are not the story in and of itself. Nor are they teasers because they are not part of the script or main story. However, they focus on aspects of the story to give it an appealing background .

These will be free of charge—for awhile at least.

It should be released within a few days. Since it contains a prologue and—believe it or not—a glossary outlining little historical and historical fiction details, I need to lay it out properly in InDesign.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Page 9 Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

To celebrate the entire completion of 9 out of 20 pages in Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I share this snapshot of one panel on the page. I am almost half-way finished with this very important part of the project.

Why is it so important? I need a finished work to present to agents and/or publishers to humbly ask for their financial support so that I can finish the entire graphic novel by Fall 2016. Like all artists that start out like this, I am having trouble paying the bills and buying groceries thanks to this wild and crazy Swedish adventure I have heaped upon myself. If I find such a person or entity, it would be such a relief. If I do not, I will still do it myself. This is a story that must be told.

As usual, the image you see was created using Manga Studio 5EX. I have been making screen movies of some of my work so you can see how I made some of the pages (I plan to release it after it is published).

I wanted to also tell you that I work very hard to improve my craft through "drawing drills" almost nightly. That is, I make 8 to 12 sketches of the same thing. Lately, my focus has been trees, mouths, noses and feet. I grab one of my many how-to-draw books, crack it open, find an object and draw it...and draw it...and draw it again and again.

I also recently published the Swedish versions of my children's books Knös Jätten and Motalas Svenska Flicka. Please check them out at Lulu. They are written to inspire children to overcome adversity and reach for greatness.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bit by Bit - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I am crawling steadily through the illustration phase of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. If I could afford it, I would work on nothing else. Therefore, I will pray for a miracle while I continue to do my best. Meanwhile, until those thousands of eager people will purchase my on-demand photo restoration tutorials or my stock illustrations, I will probably average 2 or 3 completed pages (inked, colored and lettered) per week. For an 80 page story, that seems like an eternity of 50 hour work weeks.

The snapshot at left is a small portion of the western stairwell of the Swedish Royal Palace in Stockholm. Finding interior source images of this magnificent edifice is very difficult. I've bought every book I could find—and afford—as well as scoured every website I could translate. For one of Europe's greatest palaces, I find the lack of coffee table hardcover photo books about the Royal Palace disturbing. Swedes have a code of modesty in their DNA. But if that is the reason, I have to say it sure frustrates me as an artist—even if I am half Swedish! If I lived in Sweden, I would've visited this place at least twice with a sketchbook to scout for scenes.

Nevertheless, as you can see, I'm getting inspiration from something. This is a small portion of a background image in Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I have modified it slightly for composition purposes. But it is almost identical to the real thing as seen here at Gamla Stan i Stockholm's website.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Queen Lovisa Ulrika - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I'm entering another exciting part of Badin and the Secret of the Saami: Illustrating scenes from Queen Lovisa Ulrika's Audience Chamber at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholmsslott). Although I'm not revealing any other characters or finished art at this time, I wanted to show you a snapshot of my screen as I was working.

You will see a strange set of guides in the background. That is from the extremely useful book called Extreme Perspective for Artists by a very talented and intelligent David Chelsea.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Production improvement for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Abstract from a finished page
As I write this, I am at the final stage (coloring) for page 6 of Act 1. Creating these first pages has been an emotional roller coaster. I did not realize how much emotion plays a part in the story until I saw what I drew! For nine months all I have looked at were words on paper, model sheets and very rough pencil sketches. It is a very different kind of presentation. I would liken it to meeting the characters of Badin and the Secret of the Saami in person. It is both exciting and frightening.

I think I understand what seasoned comic artists and writers mean when they say that good art compliments good writing. However, that assumes I am doing something good for either component. I hope I am. I can only keep going, I suppose. Maybe after you read Badin and the Secret of the Saami in autumn 2016, you will comment or send me a message with your thoughts.

I made some notes of how my process has changed in the past week or two (using Manga Studio 5EX).

  1. Create panel guides, copy trim and live guides based on thumbnail layout sketches. 
  2. Create the frame folders with Frame Sub-Tool. 
  3. Run actions to create the following layers in each frame folder: Composition, draft, ink. 
  4. Create word balloons and enter dialog/narration with Text Curve Balloon Sub-Tool. Make sure custom text settings are activated. 
  5. Place appropriate composition rulers by Doug Hills into each frame folder. 
  6. Adjust draft layer elements and lettering according to composition ruler if necessary. I tend to use Rule of Thirds, Golden Slant and Golden Spiral the most. These help me construct very pleasing compositions in the frames.