Diversity in Comics and the Ronin on Kickstarter

I am a storyteller. Whether it’s in the church, on a sales call at my day job, or writing comics, I love to tell stories that make people think and that call people to action. This endeavor with The Ronin is no different. The Ronin also has a lot going for it in terms of diversity. In a time where we crave diversity in comics and in film, The Ronin has something for everyone. What do I mean?

  • The Ronin is based on a Zen myth.
  • The Ronin is unapologetically Japanese.
  • The Ronin was written by a gay man and LGBT rights activist.
  • The Ronin comic book is being written by a black man.
  • The Ronin comic book is created by a diverse team of artists from all over the world.

 

The Ronin is based on a Zen myth, but it is also a Zen Koan. A Koan is defined on Wikipedia as “a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen practice to provoke the ‘great doubt’ and test a student’s progress in Zen practice.” Yes there is a lot of action in The Ronin and that’s great, but it is thought provoking as well, and hopefully will make you think. It’s a phenomenal story with a lot of action, but the story is also about redemption, and I hope that readers will think and grow in reading it.

The Ronin, though written by a white man, is unapologetically Japanese. It is clear that the author William Dale Jennings spent significant time learning and studying the culture. The characters are all Japanese, the story takes place in Japan, and in this day and age of whitewashing characters in comics and film, that to me is refreshing.

 

 

What about The author Dale Jennings was a gay man at a time when being gay was literally illegal. He was an early member of the Mattachine Society. From Wikipedia:

The society sought to gain acceptance through greater communication between homosexuals and heterosexuals… and proclaimed homosexuals to be one of the largest minorities in America.

In the spring of 1952 Jennings was arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a toilet in Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park. The trial that took place drew national attention to the Mattachine Society and membership increased drastically due to the decision of the Mattachine Society to help contest the charges brought against Jennings. William Dale Jennings was one of the first homosexual men to contest charges such as this one. Most homosexuals at the time pleaded guilty so as not to be publicly scrutinized. His decision to fight back was a pivotal point in the movement.

Say what you want about homosexuality. As a pastor, I have heard it all. But as a follower of Christ, I am called to love my neighbor first, so whatever your personal position, keep it to yourself. I love everyone and will accept you as you regardless of lifestyle, ethnicity, education, political affiliation, etc. With that out of the way let me say that William Dale Jennings was the man! This was 1952! To stand up and fight for his rights and his identity as a gay man was (and sometimes still is) groundbreaking.

 

The Ronin is being adapted to comic book format by me, Chris Dickens, and I am a black man. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but in a day and age where the average comic book fan cannot name 7 black comic book characters, let alone black comic book writers or creators, this is important. The black voice is largely absent from the comics spectrum, but I am blessed to be a part of this black nerd (or blerd) community, and to be doing something I love which is writing comics. Oh, did you think I was exaggerating about the not being able to name 7 black comic book characters? Watch this:

Finally, Team Ronin is diverse. You have a black writer, a white colorist and letterer in Jeremy Shepherd and Sean Glumace respectively, and our artist Gian Carlo Bernal lives and works in the Philippines. So when you read this comic, you’re reading work and inspiration from

So when you read this comic, you’re reading work and inspiration from Japan, from the LGBT community, from a black nerd, the white creative community, and the Philippines. To me, that is impressive and important. All creative teams should be so diverse.

So when you support the Ronin, you’re supporting diversity in comics. I hope that explains my multiple hashtags and one of the many reasons I am excited about this book and this Kickstarter campaign. If you haven’t already, check out The Ronin on Kickstarter by clicking here, and if you like what you see, support us with a donation. Thanks for reading!

 

This Tuesday! #BlackComicsChat podcast interview!

This Tuesday, check me out on the Black Comics Chat podcast talking comics, The Ronin on Kickstarter, religion, diversity in comics, and more! You can listen at http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/blackcomicschat

Make sure you listen because I am making a very special announcement! You don’t want to miss it.

Interview Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday, the 20th of December at 10:45 am, I will be on KSVY’s Hollywood & West Napa Street radio show promoting The Ronin Kickstarter campaign and talking about a variety of other topics with host Cat Smith. Locals can listen to Hollywood & West Napa on 91.3 KSVY Sonoma!  Everyone else can download the free KSVY app for iOS or Android to listen anywhere. You can also listen to archived shows on the app as well.

To get the app for IOS devices here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id934789642

Android users should click here to get the app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ksvy.pc&hl=en

 

 

FREE Preview!

I really want you to check out our Kickstarter campaign, so I am offering a 100% FREE preview of our book. Click here right now to check out 5 pages of The Ronin. If you like what you see, please go to our Kickstarter page here and back us so that we can get the book printed and distributed.

 

 

Kickstarter is LIVE!

Click here to support us!

Kickstarter Video

Check out the video for my upcoming Kickstarter (launching this Friday, December 9th!) and let me know what you think on social media.

Preview the entire Kickstarter project including rewards by clicking here.

The Ronin Kickstarter starts next week, but what is Kickstarter?

On December 9th at 12:01am Pacific Time, the project will go live. I would love it if you all would go there and support the project by donating. I have had a few people ask me what Kickstarter is. For those that are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, please click here.

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Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative people (like me) to post campaigns requesting funding help to make their project a reality. Supporters (called backers) donate money to help fund the project and in exchange they get rewards. The artist only receives the donations if they hit their goal before the campaign ends. You can check out Kickstarter’s FAQ here: https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter+basics

Finally! The Ronin Kickstarter Campaign Launches December 9th!

People keep asking me when the Ronin will be available. They love the art and they want to read the book. Well, after a couple of false starts, The Ronin is officially headed for Kickstarter on December 9th! This is what we’ve been waiting for.

I need your help to get Issue One printed and out to the masses so please bookmark this site, the IamChrisDickens Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and more.

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Do you want a sneak preview of the Kickstarter? Click here to see what I’ve been up to, and be sure to comment and share on social media that you’ll be supporting.

When Worlds Collide – New Vigilante Project Art

A little while back I asked Gian Carlo, the artist for The Ronin, to do a poster of Vigilante Project just to see what it would look like. Well, he did and it is excellent. It’s getting a bit of attention on social media so I figured I’d post it here too.

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Gian Carlo did the pencils and inks, and I had planned to have Jeremy Shepherd (colorist for The Ronin) color it, but before he could, original (O.G.) Vigilante Project colorist Jarrett Arthur stepped in and colored it. He actually saved and colored the low-resolution picture from Facebook just for kicks, but when I saw his work I sent him the high-resolution art so that he could do it for real. I’m still going to have Jeremy color it, but Jarrett’s looks amazing so I had to share. Jarrett has been coloring for Team Vigilante Project since way back with the ashcan in 2010. He really does stay vigilant. Check it out below.

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What do you think? It’s kind of nice when The Ronin and Vigilante Project worlds collide. For a limited time over on the Vigilante Project Facebook Page, I have provided a link to read the graphic novel for FREE. Head on over there and give the page a like, and check it out.

Stay Vigilant!

 

I’m Back

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Back in October, I posted a blog stating that I had stopped making comics. I felt that I needed to step away from comics because they “demanded a lot of my time, energy, and money and I just can’t spare that time, energy, and money anymore”. As true as that statement was and in some ways still is, I have found that I am not as busy as perhaps I thought I was, and that I have really missed making comics. So… I’m back.

Don’t get me wrong. My attitude toward making comics has definitely changed. However, rather than saying that I stopped making comics, I think that perhaps a more accurate statement would be that I stopped making comics for profit, or that I have stopped pursuing comics as a career. It’s no secret that I got into comics as a means to a specific Hollywood end, but I have grown to love and cherish comics as an artform and to enjoy making comics simply for the sake of telling the story. So, rather than chasing a Hollywood dream or trying to turn it into a career, I am going to shift my motivation and intent, and continue to make comics simply for the joy of storytelling.

I have two amazing stories that I want to share with the world in The Ronin and Vigilante Project, and I think that it’s high time that I got back to them. Besides, does anything really stay dead in comics?

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So what does all this mean? It means that I have something up my sleeve of course. But rather than talking about it, I am going to just do it. Stay tuned and be ready for something new December 9th.