I interview comicdiversity's Jeff Snow about his comic, diversity, and site...Greg: Hello, Jeff. Great to be interviewing you today. Can you tell us about yourself? Jeff:Hello, Greg. Thank you for having this interview with me. As for alittle bit about myself, I have been into comics ever since I was akid. I'm currently a college student attempting to attain a degree invisual arts. I manage a website and forum dedicated towards uncoveringaspiring artists and writers, as well as focus on diversity within thecomic book industry. I am also working on a comic book project calledEvolved, hopefully to be debuting this winter. *Crosses Fingers*
Greg: Nice. What's this project about? Jeff:Evolved is kind of like Heroes meets Teen Titans with a very diversecast and an very detail look at sibling bonds. The three maincharacters are two sisters and one little brother, and unlike mostcomic book and media depiction of sibling relationships, they are veryclose. Perhaps the closest pair of siblings you'll meet in comics. Mygoal was to set up the ideal sibling bond and examine the core aspectsof being a sibling, and what that really meant. This is also an examineon a different level in that the little brother, Angel, is adopted.He's bi-racial and came from a horrible home. So essentially he's veryscarred emotionally. But not scarred in the usually showed way wherethey are wild, act up, and go crazy. No, Angel is very innocent, quiet,soft spoken, and needy. So as you can tell, the comic is very characterdriven.As for the plot, essentially what happens is that a corporation calledDiatech discovers a formula to force humans to evolve. Unfortunately,humans are not ready to evolve yet so more than the majority of thoseexposed to the radiation are killed. The main villain, Arthur Williams,is tired of humans being weak and decided to take the next step ofevolution into his own hands. His corporation launches a missile at SanDiego filled with this radiation. San Diego is literally wiped from theplanet with 75% of the population being killed. The remaining 25% aregifted with abilities, with many being coerced or captured by Diatechto be used for their personal service. So the radiation is making it'sway north to LA. The government is going crazy and our cast is tryingto escape the hands of both the government and Diatech.
Greg: Wow, sounds darn intense! What made you come up with such a story? What inspired this? Jeff:To be honest, a lot of things made me develop this plot. For one, in myeyes interracial adoption is rarely seen in the media. Even withAngelina Jolie. Now with her having birth children, you rarely see heradopted ones in people magazine or lifestyle. But IR adoption is rathercommon in America. In comics, it's literally non-existent. So I wantedto be one of the first to explore it. In regards to the focus onsibling bond, it goes back to another aspect that comics rarely cover:family. Of course you have the Fantastic Four, and Quicksilver andScarlet Witch, but who else? Our society, both comics and media, placeit's entire focus on romantic relationships to where other bonds suchas familial or friendship bonds are cast aside. Especially so withfamily. Whenever siblings are depicted, it's the type where the olderbrother has an annoying little sister or the little brother grabs theolder sister's Barbie's and use her as a hostage for his actionfigures. In essence, my comic combats a lot of views and placement incomic. It will very likely be viewed as controversial and renegadelike, which is fine by me.I also wanted to create a diverse cast because frankly it's the 21stcentury, we should be having diverse cast by now, and yet especially inthe comic book industry, we do not see that much. So I wanted to fillthose shoes, fill those gaps. I'm not the type to create an all blackteam or all anything team. What I want and what I enjoy is diversity,so within my main cast, my villains, my supporting cast, you will finda very diverse group of individuals, and I believe that perhaps willinterest a lot of people. Now them handling the controversial part is adifferent story.
Greg: So will the subject to race play a big part in your story? Jeff:Not entirely. The main aspect was to establish a racially diverse castand story plot, but not to constantly dive into the topic of race. Nowwe don't shy away from the topic. One aspect you get to see is from oneof the characters, Marcus, as he struggles with the ideal of "actingblack" or "acting like himself." His previous group of friends who wereall black ridiculed him for getting straight A's in school, saying hewas acting "white." so he lower his grades to fit in with the crowd. Itwas only after he left his group of friends and became friends with ourcast when he really started to act like himself. So we do have momentswhere race is discussed, but it's not an key aspect of the story. Whatwas most important for me was to have a racially diverse cast andhighlight a topic that's rarely been talked about, IR adoptions.
Greg: Gives us a feed of the villain. Jeff:Arthur, he's the persona of today's world of a "man's man." He's calm,cool, collective, but have a huge distaste for the way things areheading in our society. He's looking at society and quite frankly isdisgusted at what he sees. The overweight and obesity rate climbing ata drastic pace. How the government "appears" to be heading down thepath of socialism. Quite frankly, he's sicken by "how weak" humans havebecome. So he decides to do something about it. His corporation,Diatech, dives into studying how to forcefully evolve a human throughmanipulating DNA samples. Diatech is one of the biggest corporations inthe world, so they have the resources to allocate a lot of funds intotheir science department. After a specific period of time, they figureout the way to make humans evolved, and exposed it willing testsubjects. I don't want to go too deep into it because I want to do amini-series from my universe regarding what happened. But you will seefrom the beginning that Arthur is a man of morals and principles. Hebelieves VERY strongly in his morals, and that mix with power cancreate a devastating combination.
Greg: So what inspires you as a writer/artist? Jeff:Well that's a good question. As a writer, what primarily inspires me ismy environment, what goes on around me. Because our environmentessentially shapes us, mold us into what we are today. I analyze almosteverything, constantly asking the question why. I think through this Igain inspiration and ideas to writer. As for fellow writers, to behonest there isn't really a writer out that inspires me per say. NowI'm not saying I don't like any writers. On the contrary, I enjoy GeoffJohns, Bendis, McDuffie, and a couple other writers out there. Butprimarily, I enjoy their writing yet they don't inspire me. Primarilybecause I review through their writing and think of what I would dothings differently. I think that and primarily my environment helpshape me into having a unique perspective and a unique writing stylewhich will show through my comic.
On the other hand, there are plenty of artists thatinspire me. Terry Dodson, Jeff Scott Campbell, Adam Hughes just to namea few. These three individuals help shape my art to the way it lookstoday. Even though I have a LONG way to go before I can ever beconsider in the same league as these guy
Greg:Well, as you've mentioned, you're an advocate of diversity. How do youfeel about the current state right now of diversity in comics?Jeff:I believe we have came a little ways from the 60's, that's for sure.But in comparison to other media outlets, I believe the comic bookindustry is far behind when it comes to diversity. I do believe thatMarvel, and a lesser extent DC, attempt to try and diversify theirheroes. But both have easily noticeable flaws that can be pointed out.With Marvel, they contain only three, but three large problems in theirhouse.
1) Minorities are rarely if ever in the spotlight. Luke Cage had asmall showing in Dark Reign but it did not last long unfortunately.Especially regarding events, which are known as the big thing, theyalmost seem to disappear. If Marvel wants to make these characters seemimportant, than they'll need to place minorities in the forefront ofthe action and perhaps even saving the day. I made a comment about howBlue Marvel would have been perfect for Dark Reign, especially withSentry being on the Dark Avengers. Blue Marvel could have evened theplaying fields and since this is a war about wits and not power, BlueMarvel can't save the day by himself. He would've been perfect for NewAvengers but they let the chance slip.
2) House of M literally ruined black mutants. Almost all minoritymutants seem to have vanish from off the map, especially black malemutants. In this case I have no idea how they can fix it because Ibelieve the mutant gene is gone so it's not possible to have mutantsanymore. But technically, according to what I've seen regarding whatJoe stated, there is still over 1 million mutants. So they still canshow new characters who are black and mutants. It's a more difficultcause here, but it can be fixed.
Have Marvel fixing these two problems and continue creating morenew minority characters and the company itself would be all fixed.
3) DC, well they have a much larger problem on their hand. Withoutincluding Milestone, DC to this day does not have a minority powerhousealong the lines of Superman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, etc. In thecurrent time-span, they still don't have a minority speedster, etc.etc. DC has a lot of making up to do in order for them to catch up withMarvel in my opinion. But both companies can be better.
To be honest, Image is by far the best company when it comes todiversity. Not only is their biggest star black (Spawn), theyconstantly create new and diverse comics like one of my favorite comicsever, Dynamo 5.
But I hope with my comic, I can help pave the way for a diversity revolution of sort.
Greg: And you just started a site attempting to showcase and bring attention to this, yes?... Jeff:Indeed, we created a website dedicated towards diversity within comicsas well as uncovering upcoming artists and writers that the big sitesseem to forget. We attempt to bring the latest topics that revolvearound comics and examine how that effects diversity within the comicbook industry. We also are planning on having a few interviews withprofessional writers and artists in the business as they share theirexperience as well as dive into the topic of diversity. Our other, butequally as important, goal is to bring upcoming artists to the light.The web is filled with web comics and aspiring artists trying to make aname for themselves. Our goal is to reveal these diamonds to the worldand show not all of the greatest comics come from the Big 2.
The site is here http://comicdiversity.atspace.com/
Greg: Very nice. Great luck with everything, my man. Any final words before you leave? Jeff:Well for one I would like to say thanks again for having the interviewwith me. I believe my comic fills many niches that exist within thecomic book world. For those that want to see super powers withoutcapes, this is the comic for you. For those that are tired of familieswho want to fight and bicker every panel, this is the comic for you.For those that want to see a diverse cast, this is the comic for you.Just give it a shot and I'll be sure you'll like what you'll find.Evolve coming out this winter! Stay Tuned!
(Interview can also be found here http://comicdiversity.atspace.com/Evolved%20Comic%20Interview.html