ITS INTERVIEW FRIDAYYYYY: SOCIAL SKILLS COMIC...
WHAT IS YOUR ALIAS?
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I'm originally from Houston, Texas, but I've been living in New York for the past 9 years, on and off.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN LIFE IN ORDER FOR YOUR WORLD TO ROTATE?
Well, I always say that I don't create art because I want to, I create art because I have to. Also, I have to read everyday and listen to music everyday. I couldn't imagine not doing any of those things daily.
DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? AND WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR IT?
Yeah, I definitely love what I do, and I couldn't imagine pursuing something I didn't love, or wasn't passionate about. As far as what I do, I'm a filmmaker and writer, but I'm also the creator of this webcomic. All in all, I consider myself a visual storyteller. My goals are to keep expanding, and to continue to challenge myself as an artist, and make a living from my work.
WHAT KEEPS YOU CONSTANTLY DIVERSIFYING YOUR WORK? WHAT OLDER COMICS INSPIRE YOU?
I have to challenge myself, and I have diverse interests anyway, so that's what keeps me constantly diversifying my work. But, the comics that really inspire me are relatively recent graphic novels - "The Confessions of Nat Turner" by Kyle Baker, "Birth of A Nation" by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin(illustrated by Kyle Baker) and "Shortcomings" by Adrian Tomine. But, a lot of films, literature, photography and music inspire me just as much as comics do(sometimes even more).
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH THE STORY LINES? ARE ANY OF THEM REAL SITUATIONS?
"Yeah, YOU'RE Cool." is the serialized story that we're doing, and the inspiration for that is mainly from observations, but a lot of it is personal, however not necessarily autobiographical. For instance, Jameer isn't a stand in for me, and I've never dated a girl who was exactly like Clara, but those two characters are very familiar, if that makes sense? I enjoy creating characters, and thinking up hypothetical situations much more than writing something directly from my life. Also, each of the characters have a little bit of me in them(the positives and negatives) but they're mainly an amalgam of what I've created and observed in others I've been around(either for extended periods of time or short periods of time).
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE IN A CREATIVE RUT?
I usually walk around the city, and listen to music. Or, I just write about the fact that I'm in a creative rut, and make a list of the goals I want to accomplish. Also, what's really helpful is reading or watching interviews with people I admire. I actually try to stay away from reading or watching some of my favorite works, because there's a chance that I'll start creating again - but it would end up being too much like what I was inspired by.
WHEN DID YOU START THE BLOG?
Social Skills was started on June 1st of this year. We update every Wednesday.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON COMICS TODAY?
I'm a big fan of graphic novels(they appeal to me the most) and I really like webcomics as well. I think there's a lot of potential for webcomics, and we're going to see them go in really inspiring directions. One of my favorites is "The Revolutionary Times" by Sean Mack(Smack!) and Brandon Howard. I think comics today are going in a positive direction, especially since self-publishing has become easier than ever.
NAME 5 THINGS YOU CANT LIVE WITHOUT?
As far as "things" in the more abstract sense? Sex, art, great conversations, sports, and just like everybody else - wi-fi.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
Comics(illustrations, serialized stories, graphic novels, etc.) and filmmaking are the two things I'm most passionate about as far as what I personally create. I judge my achievements not on materialistic surface things, but on personal artistic accomplishments. So, as for Social Skills, I'd say my greatest achievement would be the fact that we're able to do it and meet our deadline and have work I'm really proud of considering this is my first attempt at this particular art form.
As for films, even though they're not representative at all of the mentality that I have now, or my skill level - I'd say the 5 female oriented short films I've done. I had to challenge myself as an artist and work outside of my comfort zone in many, many ways in order to become better at writing female characters that seemed authentic. Also, stylistically, I had to challenge myself to purposefully use styles in each film that were the opposite of what I'd be inclined to do. And, I'm a better artist because of it.
IF YOU DIDN’T CREATE THE BLOG WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I don't know, I really don't even want to think about that. But, I'd probably be working on the graphic novel I'm currently writing, or working on another film.
IF YOU HAD A MILLION DOLLARS TOMORROW WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Besides practical things(bills, investments, savings) I'd travel a lot(there are numerous countries in Africa that I'd like to visit) and put the money towards some of the bigger projects I've been wanting to do.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST?
There are a lot. Nas, Jean Michel Basquiat, Spike Lee, Kyle Baker, Bad Brains(every member), Kanye West, Malik Sayeed and, perhaps the artist who inspires me the most - Thelonious Monk. I consider Malcolm X and Michael Jordan artists in their own way, and they're huge inspirations.
WHAT IS THE OLDEST THING IN YOUR CLOSET?
Honestly, I don't own a lot of old clothing. Probably a T-shirt my dad gave me from 1992 that has an illustration of Scottie Pippen on it. Although, it's in storage and not in my immediate reach. There's also a tweed blazer that I bought at a thrift store in Houston, but I can't verify exactly how old it is.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 2 WORDS?
WHAT GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE COMICS? HAVE YOU TRIED NEWSPAPER SPOTS?
I'd like for them to be seen by a wide variety of people and for them to spark discussions which has already started to happen. I'd just like for it to continue doing that and for it to keep growing every week. Right now, I'm mainly focusing on having it featured on websites and blogs that I respect and think the readers of those sites would appreciate. I don't know of any newspapers that would be allowed to carry some of the work we make, but I'd be open to physical media in the future. Mainly, I'd like for Social Skills to gain a following of people who appreciate and/or create artwork and for it to inspire them to follow their own dreams. There are other areas that I'd like to explore outside of just comics with Social Skills, but I'll keep that on the low for now until things actually transpire.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A THEME SONG PLAY WHILE U WALKED WHAT SONG WOULD IT BE? WHY?
"P.W.A." by the 5th Ward Boyz. Why? Just to see the looks on other people's faces.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
"Now we talkin bout integration, now its diversity, and the latest thing is reparations, which is nothing but begging for bread crumbs off the [white man's] table.
We ought to be about building our own tables and baking our own bread!" - Sam Green-lee.
It means that looking for handouts or guidance from anyone but ourselves is self-defeating and representative of the mental genocide and self-hate that has kept us oppressed. Also, no matter who you are or what your background is, you should focus on building for yourself and your community, instead of waiting for someone to find you and "save you." I remember in an interview with Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, when he was speaking on the negative way they were portrayed in the documentary about them, he stressed how important it is for us to be in control of our own images. And, that sentiment also relates to that Sam Greenlee quote.
WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU SEE YOU’RE WORK AFTER ITS FINISHED?
Pride, excitement and relief.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE COMIC SKITS IN 3 YRS?
Stylistically I plan to experiment with a lot more and to expand the visibility of Social Skills. I still want the blog to be up and running, but I'd like for it to be more than just illustrations and stories on a webpage. Eventually, I'd want it to be something tactile as well.
WHATS YOUR DEFINITION OF SOMEONE BEING “AN INTRICATE ILLUSTRATOR”?
Well, I work with a VERY talented and VERY patient illustrator/graphic designer named, Samona (scaredofmonsters.com). I conceptualize everything and write everything, but she illustrates and makes suggestions that always add even more to what my original vision was. I'm a very detail oriented person and can be very obsessive, so that's why the illustrations seem intricate. However, they're more minimalistic in style, with certain details that make them appear intricate. My definition of an "intricate illustrator" would be someone who illustrates all of the details beneath the surface that a normal person would take for granted, but they make a big difference communication wise in the grand scheme of things.
WHATS THE BEST TIME OF THE DAY FOR YOU? WHY?
Nighttime is the best time of the "day" for me, actually. I feel more relaxed. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because I have insomnia? I really dislike the afternoon though, especially during the summertime.
HOW DID YOU GET THE NAME FOR THE BLOG?
Well, the name is sarcastic. I wanted the tone to be cynical, harsh and sarcastic, and to represent what you're not "supposed" to express if you want to "play the game" and appeal to the lowest common denominator. So, that's why I chose to sardonically call it "Social Skills." Also, it's on the internet, and people say that the internet and specifically social networking sites are deteriorating our social skills. So, after constantly reading that, I thought it'd be funny to purposefully add to that deterioration.
WHATS THE MOST MEMORABLE COMIC SKIT YOU’VE MADE?
The first "The Sojourner Truth" comic, which deals with the grandmother telling her granddaughter how she can become a "star" in today's climate. It's the first one we ever made and it sets the tone for everything and introduces people to the style of Social Skills. It's gotten a MUCH better response than I ever thought it would, especially from girls who one might think would be offended by it.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH ALL THAT YOU HAVE?
I'm proud, but not content. I'm always looking to improve, and I always want to challenge myself. I'll be a lot happier once I'm in a position to do this full time, though.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ART SCENE TODAY?
As far as today's art scene goes, I have mixed feelings. So much of it is about marketing and gimmicks, but there's a lot of inspiring stuff out there. In all honesty, tumblr features some of the most inspiring artists that I've come across in a long time. So, just like tumblr, the art scene has it's high highs and low lows. Overall, the democracy of the internet makes me slightly optimistic about the possibilities for real artists, yet that same democracy makes me slightly pessimistic because it allows for more terrible "art" to get exposure. Street art is very inspirational and so is graffiti, although graffiti is unfortunately not what it was back in the late '70's and '80's, as far as New York is concerned at least. I wasn't here during that time, but I'm always inspired by it.
IS THERE A LIMITATION TO HOW MANY SKITS ARE IN EACH COMIC?
So much of it is about the fact that we both have obligations outside of Social Skills(I have a day job, and Samona is in school) and our weekly deadline. But, I don't put any artistic limitations on Social Skills at all.
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH THE NAMES OF THE CHRACTERS?
As far as naming the characters goes, it sometimes depends. Sometimes there's meaning and symbolism behind them, and sometimes I just think that a certain type of person would probably have this particular name. An example would be the fact that there aren't that many strippers or young people named Gertrude.
DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL TO LEARN WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT ART OR WAS IT SELF TAUGHT?
Self taught. I really didn't have any other choice but to be. All I was ever taught in school was how to pass standardized tests, and how to be a drone who never questions authority.
WHAT ARE SOME WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT THAT YOUR WOULD GIVE A YOUNG ARTIST?
Never compromise your art because sometimes it's all you have. When someone responds positively to work that you put your heart and soul into, there's no better feeling. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to have someone respond to work you did that you weren't passionate about and was done in a by the numbers way in order to "play the game" and become "popular" amongst people with poor taste and fickle allegiances to whomever's "hot" at the moment. I'd imagine that's a pretty hollow feeling.
WHAT UNDERSTANDING DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE FROM YOUR WORK?
These are my honest observations/analysis of human nature as well as my means of self-expression. I don't expect for every single person to "like" my style, and don't really care if some don't "understand" Social Skills or anything else that I make. It is what it is.
WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 GOALS WHEN YOUR CREATING A COMIC SKIT?
I want it to be as great as it possibly can be, to express what I want to express with NO hesitation or apologies, to live up to my personal standards, to be an honest depiction of what I've observed and, lastly, to represent my personal vision.
ANY LAST WORDS?
We have a lot more in store in the near future, and there will be some surprises in the "Yeah, YOU'RE Cool." storyline. Also, I'm grateful to the fans that we have and to all of the people who let us know that they're reading and looking forward to the next piece of work. It's really encouraging and allows me to push forward and strive for Excellency even more than I already would if we didn't have any fans.
WHATS YA TWITTER?
WHATS YOU’RE WEBSITE? OR CONTACT?
The best way to contact me is on Twitter, but if you don't have a twitter you can email me at: email@example.com. Of course, if you're on tumblr you can message me, and if you're not on tumblr you can anonymously message me your contact info and I'll get back to you.
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