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!