Black or White?

Icon, Drew Mcintosh, Blackjack, Orpheus, Lucius Hammer, Dreadlocks

A few fans have asked for quite awhile why some characters are more successful than others,

is it the origin?

The stories?

or perhaps the creators themselves?

I’m curious to know what you think since yesterday one fan so eloquently asked:

Why do you think super heroes that are black but created by a white person
get’s more readers and fans
yet
a super hero who is black and
created by a black person doesn’t achieve the same level of success?

Sound off below or on our faithful facebook page we want to know what you think!!

Luke Cage, Miles Morales, Spawn, Storm, Black Panther, President Superman

admin

Caribbean born college lecturer, Multidisciplinary specialist/Androgogue/Philosophical Pedagogue; founder/CEO of World of Black Heroes, freelance writer and all around comic book geek. I enjoy a good book, video games, movies and most of all fatherhood. Written credits include work for Islandstage.net, Comicvine, Independent comics etc.

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30 thoughts on “Black or White?

  • July 11, 2012 at 2:04 am
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    Exposure! Those characters are from the 2 mainstream comic companies and they get much more exposure!

    Reply
  • July 11, 2012 at 3:39 am
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    I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t think our characters are as successful because 1. We refuse to take the time to refine our craft to levels that will compete with or surpass the mainstream. 2. Our characters are black dopelgangers of popular white characters. 3. We refuse to digg deeper into our cultural heritage to come up with characters other than those the come from Egypt. 4. We forgo strong and compelling story which, even though based on our experiences are universal, for flashy images.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2012 at 3:46 am
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    I’ll piggyback on what Christian said, exposure is the key. Most black characters from black creators come from small startups companies. It’s much harder to get the word out there. Plus going against two powerhouses in DC and Marvel, with their long history and premiere lineup of heroes.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2012 at 9:21 am
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    Couldn’t agree more with Mark Dudley. Black artiest/writers/creators need to make sure that they are coming with their “A” games if they want to have any chance against the mainstream. The black doppelgangers of white characters is one of the things that bug me the most about most black comic characters. I love how the internet has sorta leveled the playing field and has made it easier for independent to get there stuff out there with web comics and websites like deviantart.com, but it’s downright ridiculous how many indie black characters on that site all have the cliche “Superman power package”: Super strength and/or speed, flight, invulnerability, etc.. I’ve also seen a fair share of Egyptian related heroes on that site too, I know we can do better than this. I love flashy images as much as the next guy especially when I was younger, but as I got older and started to really read comics I realized that the story plays a much bigger role than the images. I’ve read comics with art that I just flat-out didn’t like but the story was so good I kept coming back, and I’ve also read comics that had amazing art but the story was boring.

    We need to be in it to win it.

    Reply
  • July 12, 2012 at 1:09 am
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    I agree with all of the above. I believe we need to be more story driven. And no disrespect to anyone’s craft, but broaden our horizons beyond the over sexed super strong, black superheroes. I don’t mind our hip-hop cultured mentality, but remember the old school intellectuals from the late 80’s/early 90’s hip-hop culture wasn’t about their craft and their message first. Tone down the over developed sisters that look well pornish for lack of better term. Why not a compelling story of intelligent equals with superpowers, as opposed to sexploitation and blaxploition.

    Reply
    • November 10, 2015 at 6:16 am
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      With respect sir , I agree entirely with what you say

      Reply
    • November 12, 2015 at 5:59 pm
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      From what I’ve seen so far everyone is on point. I totally agree. Great stories push good characters to the forefront. L.A. Banks series vampirehuntress was/is are amazing books that I would love to see as animated movies or live action. Tanarive Due has an outstanding series The Living Blood which was supposed to be made into a movie but didn’t get there. Even though Blair Underwood was behind it.

      Here’s a few more things to consider. I know how some like ride the Egypt mythos. I don’t. Kemet was great but there were dynasties before Egypt was around. Africa is a continent of several different peoples and traditions and customs. We can use many of those stories to eductain our people. I see many of the writers trying so hard to get into hollywood and if they do they’ve somehow made it. Its a small wonder that we don’t get any further because we keep trying to be part of the mainstream when we have our own ocean to play in. There are plenty of black animators and black directors and the like who can do much with subjects like I’ve mentioned above.

      Tyler Perry isn’t going to do it. Too embedded with Holly giving him the wood. I know he’s doing his thing in Atlanta and in the business you do have to make concessions for some things. But with all the avenues that are available today to make and produce and showcase our stories I feel there is no excuse to not succeed. We also have to deal with some of us who look black but don’t have black interest in mind and heart.

      I know I’m drifting off topic but I feel like it relates. my apologies and Ashe!!!

      Reply
  • July 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm
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    Dont marvel and DC have the low level super powered black heroes down packed. that’s probably why black creators want to create their version of Superman do u tell the white creators stop creating white supermen like superman. No we just except them so why not just except the black ones as well
    as well.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2012 at 2:14 am
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    The truth has been stated. The big two have the market covered. Especially now since the Disney deal bankrolling Marvel makes them a media Juggernaut! -pun intended-) It is said that there’s nothing new under the sun. It boggles the mind that the notion of very Human things belong only to one culture or another. Superman is an idea that belongs to all Humanity. Yes,he is a fictional alien being with a Caucasian appearance (J’onnJ’onnz was always more my favorite alien (MartianManhunter) However,Supes IS the granddaddy of ALL superheroes! The wheel can’t be reinvented. Spinning rims 22″s or otherwise.
    Whether a character’s powers come from science or mythical Egyptian, Aztek, Asian, Roman, Greek or other gods the meta-abilities of the
    genre are set. All heroes of all colors are dopelgangers in tights. Rich talent is
    out there. Like in hip-hop other art forms some of the best skill is in the
    underground. That does not guarantee mainstream success.
    I loved Milestone:
    Icon&Rocket,Static..characters that I could identify with.
    When it failed I was
    heartbroken. What happened? The stories were great! Dc is sitting on great
    properties they own. The industry has blackpower heroes that just sit wasting!
    We can only succeed @this together.!

    Reply
  • July 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm
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    I agree with many of the items posted on here but I want to add that this is not a question that can be answered with a single solution or thought.

    Because of the age of comics and the dreams of super human characters the desire for fantastic heroes with relatable characteristics and humbleness will never end. It merely comes down to how their story is told.

    There will always be a Superman, as much as there will always be another ‘superman’ created with slightly different qualities. This is okay. The challenge always comes down to storytelling. I struggle with this as a writer/artist/creator every day. What I have learned is what we call, ‘The
    Rule of Two’ when dealing with Black/Minority superheroes.

    To increase the odds of mainstream success for a Black/Minority character, you cannot have more than two of the following components occur in your story without a heavy White presence to balance it out (even them, that does not guarantee success):

    1.Black Character (Power-Man/Cage, Black Panther, ‘Black’ Falcon)
    2.Black World (Any Ghetto, USA, Wakanda, Harlem)
    3.Black Events (Drug Dealing, Cultural Separation, Racial Consciousness)
    4.Black Issues (Getting Paid, Serving the White Man, Being a sidekick)

    Each one of these can be studied and analyzed until we are green in the face, but their challenges as comic book characters simply as to how they were overcome. When Power-Man comic began to crumble and he eventually vanished only to return as Cage in a couple more of Marvel ‘experiments’ to revive him as a product they struggled with how to position him as the next viable Black (in this case, African-American) hero.

    They did a few solo comic series which all seem to flicker and fumble because they continually slipped on the rules posted above. When they pulled him out of a Black World and Black Events by throwing him into the Avengers with a White girl and a mixed child, his numbers instantly increased. They brought along his ignorant slang talk, took away the costume and increased his power level to fit more into the big leagues.

    Once this happened, Marvel sat down and felt that they successfully delivered the African-American community their first Black Superman.

    This technique was used with the Black Panther and the ‘Black’ Falcon. Both solo comics struggled, but they became icons when thrown into the mainstream White worlds which forced them to visit and/or abandon their Black ones.

    Could you imagine the President of the United States (any of them other than Obama) telling his cabinet that he wanted to live amongst an African tribe for years in order to understand what is going on in their world?? T’Challa did it and no one had a problem with that.

    Could you imagine Captain America hanging up his shield for years to secretly join German forces just to keep an eye on them? Nope? Amazing… neither could the White community, but this is accepted and needed for the Black Panther to sell and to become an icon.
    As for the ‘Black’ Falcon… I don’t want to go into that.

    The morale of this story is that there is no ONE reason that White-Black heroes are more successful than Black-Black heroes, there are multiple reasons and all of them need to be considered when ‘WE’ creators are working to make the next major icon.

    Reply
  • April 4, 2013 at 3:17 am
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    I ain’t gotta say a thing, you brothas said it all

    Reply
  • June 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm
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    What has been said above pretty much says it all. First: If Marvel creates a character, or DC, he’s automatically got 10,000 times the exposure of any indie comic creators work. Period. But the second part is most important – content. Are you creating a work worth reading? As an indie you have to keep in mind that you’ve got one strike against you already. But if your work is simply a musclebound guy with an afro and a couple of supporting characters that look like Fat Albert’s friends, well, you don’t have much of a hook. You have to devise an interesting story with interesting characters – a plot that does comics from a new angle – and devise characters that aren’t renamed clones of Superman or Static. A tall order, I know. But that’s the task for any indie comic creator, Black or White. It’s why most fail. Not because White fans are not interested in White indie comics, but because they feel they’ve seen it before.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    Because a lot of our black characters 1. have dumbass names that always start with black, brown, night or names that are just to simple, ex. Mr. Incredible, are you serious? Is this the 1950’s? Put a little more thought into it. Only The Black Panther can remotely get away with this and that character is still not really mainstream. His book still struggles. 2. When you give a character an ethnic name, you IMMEDIATELY take it out of the mainstream because it looks like you’re only targeting one group of people which automatically limits your audience. 3. Write stories that relate to EVERYONE. Example, Denzel Washington in the movie, “Man on Fire”. It wasn’t a black role or a white role….it was a ROLE. Comic books should be written the same way. Just my 2 cents.

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  • June 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm
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    I give credit where credit is due, there are some awesome stories out there about black characters written by white people. As well as great comics being created by black artists and writers that I know of personally. Yet most are independent and the budgets aren’t like the big guys. But they are making it happen. Very hard to tell a new an unusual story. And comparing others to us, well its unfair. Then again my argument is do we have the black readership to help support our endeavors? Hardly, they know that a certain demographic buys these comics and these characters so they are crafted around their likes. So I can’t blame an artist for creating to sell.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2014 at 3:17 am
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    It boils down to the machine the characters are generated in. With Marvel & DC most black characters are developed by white artist/writers and are deployed in ‘main stream’ books ie x-men, justice league, etc. This gives them a chance for cross over success. This model works because of the massive exposure the books get and by extension the characters (DC, however needs its ass whooped for suppressing the mass of excellent characters in the Milestone universe).

    If the characters are developed outside of the big machines, it is very hard for them to get the distribution and exposure. This does not mean that the characters are not good, just that no one may get to know them,

    The bigger question in my opinion is why there is not a more diverse pool of writers & artist represented in the major comic publishers. If the companies are comprised of mostly non-diverse creative folks then the characters they create will get the machine behind them whether or not the characters can represent and semblance of reality for the minorities they represent. (no fault of the artist/writers in question; they don’t know what they don’t know)

    Reply
  • June 6, 2014 at 8:45 am
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    This question mostly comes down to the two major companies, DC and Marvel, having carved up the mental and heart space real estate of comics readers long before most of the black heroes created by black creators were even in the game at all. There are exceptions to that first statement, however, that can possibly be explained by American cultural factors like less appreciation of black lead characters. Somehow making it the fault of black creators is wrong though, IMO.

    Miles Morales and President Superman are black versions of the ICONIC characters of Marvel and DC. They can’t help but get attention! Storm, Black Panther and Power Man came in the 6Os and 70s and were major company comic book firsts, black icons and trailblazers for their times and most importantly, published by DC and Marvel when there were few or no (considering Black Panther) other black characters around. Spawn is the only exception….He came around in the 9th and came from an independent company, though Image must have had some major money behind them to get the distribution they had. I recently heard Spawn’s creator say he downplayed Al Simmons’ “blackness”, had his human body and family killed off and gave him a full face mask to eliminate the race issue from being part of Spawns deal. How many readers even know Spawns original character is black? I never was a Spawn reader but I bet it’s relatively small compared to other obviously black characters.

    Compare those things to the black characters shown. The most popular, Icon, had an association with a major company DC. Maybe if DC had continued to use the character regularly since Milestone stopped publishing then perhaps he would be popular. Static is a black created character from Milestone that crossed over into popularity because he got that major company juice with cartoons, etc. The reality is that DC and Marvel control so much of the game and have for so long that popularity usually boils down to what they decide to push.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm
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    Samuel Ewing
    Hello,
    I think when writing about Black Supermen (Superheroes of the African American Community), in making them more interesting, these suggestions could be considered:
    1. The written story should be given priority and the title should not be about the Black Superman, but serve as a description of the challenges HE/SHE faces.
    2. Explore Black Folklore Heroes, male/female who are popular and local to a state/region for ideas about “new superheroes.” That way the artist/writer has a richer source of material that can be updated for this century. Why not look for those particular heroes who are based in history? Can this be useful in creating a “superman” who is an heir to the legacy of his/her ancestors? Do the work. Think!
    3. A graphic novel, issued 3-4 times a year on a character might prove more practical that issuing the standard comic book every month.
    4. Why not have Black Supermen grounded in being born of this planet earth, not some extraterrestrial refugee. There are many/plenty of outstanding Black historical figures who can lend themselves as prototypes for “new Black superheroes.” See #2. Excellent background material to write stories.
    5. Why not create better written “low level Black Supers,” with emphasis on their intellects, inventiveness, resourcefulness, and creativity, in addition to their great physicality as a paradigm of a “balanced superman?” This type could serve as a realistic how-to-become super, characters who are not inhuman supermen from woo woo world; but people who are constantly developing themselves to greater levels of achievement.
    6. Why not have Black Supermen who deal with the problems of their community by reasoning how to create preventive/supportive measures to reduce the social ills they encounter? Why does it always have to be a punch or shoot your way to victory scenario? After using limited force on the agents of chaos, the next step of the Black Supermen should be to go into activist mode/and/or benefactor mode. Activists, benefactors, social entrepreneurs, etc. as the new superheroes.
    7. How about a heroic, charismatic Black orator as secular leader who converts criminals and the apathetic into a unique extended family that solves the social ills through community activism? Super charisma that renders violence ineffective.
    8. A Black Culture Hero (es) whose inventiveness enables them to stop violent conflicts with non-lethal, non-violent traps and devices; with the idea of amusement by humiliating the villains and sending them on their way. Not brawn. Its about superior intellect, strategy and tactics.
    Think, think, think, think, think. And that includes how to promote and expose the finished product.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm
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      Samuel Ewing
      Hello,
      *There is a rich history concerning the Black Superman as Black American Consciousness. It long overdue for artists/writers to tap into this resource. I’m a historian on this topic and my research is ongoing.

      Reply
    • November 10, 2015 at 6:20 am
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      With respect I think you are exactly right

      Reply
  • November 10, 2015 at 6:24 am
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    The previous posters have said it all and much better than I can
    I would only add that I would that i would like very much to see a story featuring characters in a realistic successful loving long term relationship / marriage
    There are tremendous story possibilities there

    Reply
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  • November 12, 2015 at 6:29 pm
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    A black Superman, a black Spiderman… Storm who has dark skin and all else about her is white… Spawn whose human form has been so mangled that he has to wear a full body costume to cover his… non-whiteness. You are worried about these sugar enriched generic characters outshining the brilliant unique characters offered by black creators? The real question should be why can’t major mainstream comic companies come up with original black characters like Stan Lee came up with characters? Why are they just rehashing old characters by changing their skin color or ethnicity? And the real question… do you make comics to compare yourself with others or to tell YOUR story? Isn’t that what matters most? Tell your story and quit worrying about what others are doing. Create the best story you can possibly tell… someone will read it and you will move their lives.

    Reply
    • November 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm
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      Well said
      Food for thought
      Thank you for posting

      Reply
  • November 13, 2015 at 3:11 am
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    While Race is an aspect to this challenge, it does not have the level of impact on this issue as many would like to believe. This is an INDUSTRY issue. Take into account the following two stories:

    1: Dr. Jack and Mr. Jill, who happen to be the most powerful superheroes in the world, went up the hill. Dr. Jack fell and hit her head, then

    2: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

    Now imagine each word in those stories represent an entire comic. Which one would you read?

    One completes the story and the other is incomplete. THIS is the true problem that many independent creators are facing. Independent creators MUST solve the three greatest challenges of breaking into the industry, before they can grow: Comics, Story-Arc, & Consistency

    Most independent creators rarely make it beyond the third issue of their comic; few of them complete their very first story-arc. The few that do are often late on the delivery of their issues, resulting in ‘always changing’ release dates.

    When a customer is browsing for a comic to read, they normally start with a title, artist, and/or writer they are familiar with. From there they will look for a product they’ve heard about from a friend or through advertising. After those methods are exhausted, they look for a product they are willing to support for ‘noble’ reasons… as long as they have remaining funds to spare.

    Even amongst this bottom tier of choice, the customer looks for a title that has a complete story-arc or multiple issues that will allow them to learn more about the characters and their world. The average customer unconsciously searches for issue 3 or 4 when it comes to a title and company they don’t know.
    This is when most independent creators are dropped.

    If you go to the main page and go through the Independent characters and comics, perform the test that was given.

    How many have more than 3 issues of a single title? How many of those complete a full story-arc? Once you tally those few titles up, then, comes the last test… research the dates of release for each issue. How many of those were released ON TIME bi-monthly, monthly, or heck… quarterly? The numbers dwindle down even further. CONSISTENCY tends to be the final nail that seals one’s coffin when it comes to this industry.

    Note – I never had to mention ‘Race’.

    It’s not the characters, the worlds, or the stories… it is the business behind the product that kill its potential and growth. If you spent 5 years making ONE comic and start hitting the comic-cons to move it and pumping your savings into marking it, hoping that its potential will shoot it out the roof… you are deluding yourself! Control your finances and focus each dime on completing a minimum of 6 issues and/or a complete storyarcs BEFORE you draft up your complete marketing strategy.

    Examples: During the growth of Image Comics, Rob Liefeld advertised his new team ‘Youngblood’ (1992) as though they were the next greatest thing short of the birth of ice. He was late on the delivery of the first issue and late on almost everything after that. While the book had fans, the company had many supporters, and the industry was excited… Youngblood fell into a mudpit of anger from many comic shop owners and distributors. The delivery of the product was not CONSISTENT! Youngblood never had the chance to live up to its potential. The results are echoed to this day as many are hesitant to purchase the title as it spends its time trying to redeem itself.

    Another example of potential greatness… The Almighty STREET TEAM! This is an excellent product and idea!! It is also the victim of every single rule mentioned above. It never made it further than ISSUE #0, it never completed its story-arc, and it never even attempted consistency… the last date associated with the comic was 2011. It 2015!!

    This comic created massive waves of support within the industry and crumbled onto itself. It had NOTHING to with Race.

    Imagine if they would have completed 12 issues of this title, covering a complete story arc which spotlights each of the characters in a shared world. What would it be like if the story culminated into a final battle in which they become a team?

    Imagine if the series was marketed Summer 2015 and every month until the first issue release in January 2016.

    Imagine if all twelve titles were promised, delivered, and the covers connected into one masterful image.
    Now imagine the sales.

    After your excitement subsides and you come back to reality… applying the simple rules of 3 when it comes to comics and analyzing WHY they are not mainstream, its simply NOT that hard to understand.
    The brother that used to cut my hair, when I was a kid that wanted to make comics, told me something I wouldn’t forget when it came to making anything…

    He said, “Show off your house after you finish building it, that’s when people want to come in to see what you’ve done. Don’t build a door, tell people to step through it and imagine what its gonna be.
    Right when they walk away, they gonna say that you are fulla shit.”

    I was a young and angry at the world, but he made me smile. Simply because, it made sense.

    Oh, and note… I never had to mention ‘Race’.

    -Omen

    Reply
  • November 14, 2015 at 4:55 pm
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    Everyone must start form some point. Maybe the products are not polished now but given time they will be. That “they” being black created media and other wise. http://thesteelavenger.deviantart.com/art/Exodus-my-beautiful-black-ass-503930134 . There is a broken psyche at work, in that one is always choosing white created things over ones own. This a unconscious conditioned response and so wr must be aware that our thoughts are not tainted by this.

    Reply
    • November 14, 2015 at 10:06 pm
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      A completed product, such as a comic can always be rebooted and reintroduced again after its initial release. The issue we are having is COMPLETING the products. It’s kind of like buying a car without tires and a steering wheel then complaining that it can’t compete in Nascar races.

      I work with a publishing company in which we receive quite a few manuscripts for books, comics, graphic novels, etc. We have worked with creators all over the world and learned that this issue is not as simple as ‘Race’. While we are Black owned, we are very business focused.

      When it comes to comics, many creators have no idea that a comic is nothing more than a ‘vehicle’ to deliver the creator’s story to its reader. Almost all of them view a comic and their story as one… they aren’t!

      When you can’t complete your story, how can you ever hope to truly develop your concept, world, or characters? When you don’t deliver all of the vehicles carrying the components of your story to the reader… ON-TIME, how can you complain about the methods of the competition, when they have?

      I have seen some extraordinary characters and heard some of the most unique tales from creators of all Races (I am especially motivated when it comes to brothers and sisters), but most of these characters and stories merely resided in the creator’s mind, doodles, incomplete comic series, and scattered documents on their computers. While their works were great, readers never had the opportunity to experience the full potential of their stories.

      Icon was a Superman-like character, but he had multiple story-arcs and comics to distinguish the differences. Hardware was an Iron Man-life character that did the same. Did these characters REQUIRE a cool name, cool suit, totally unique origins, or ‘street relatability’ to become legendary?

      NO.

      They required an experience to deliver to the reader, in order to give them a chance to get to know them. They required a completed series of comics (vehicles) to drive the details of their tale into the readers mind. They needed more than a fragment of a narrative contained in one or two issues of an incomplete project. They needed a full story-arc, and a consistent release to satisfy what readers wanted!

      Cool names, suits, and origins do help… but they are NOT required to develop something great; completion and follow through IS required.

      We are often SO anxious to get to a comic-con to show off what we’ve created and to be famous; we forget the seriousness of the business behind true success. It’s not about going broke to appear at every event, it’s about creating a product that sells itself by offering the big 3: Quality, Value, and Satisfaction.
      It is NOT about us… it is about the product.

      Reply

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