This week on Meet the Independents!
Abdul H. Rashid is a graphic illustrator, creator, and developer of intellectual properties that focus on the genres of superheroes, sci-fi, action-adventure and horror. He is the CEO and Founder of AHR Visions, LLC (AHRV). AHRV is a new trans-media studio that develops and produces properties, spotlighting diverse characters in feature roles in its titles.
Rashid works to develop stories and concepts that contribute to a wider and broader expansion of an imaginative universe in the industry. To push this initiative further, he works to make more characters that represent the multicultural society of today. The effort is to develop more “iconic-level” characters that enhance the rich mythology within the industry, outside the “traditional” blueprint.
Being from the Mid-West, a native of Flint, MI and now living in NE Ohio, Rashid and AHR Visions (AHRV) adds to the growing surge of various creative out-put coming from that region of the country.
- Introduce yourself to our readers.
- How did you get started in the comic industry?
I got my first exposure to it in the late 90’s. I did a number of small filler work as a freelancer and the occasion lead artist for a couple of independent titles with smaller companies.
I stopped for a little while to focus on family and get my graduate degree. I reentered the fray when approached by a NY studio seeking an artist to develop their characters and story. The project (NEW-GEN) was/is being distributed through MARVEL and I saw it as a great way of getting my hands back into the game. I continued to do various freelance gigs that allowed me to meet other underground and mainstream creators/artist and found that…although I have some catching up to do…I’m making some good progress now.
- Who were your early influences?
I’m a big fan of media story-telling, on all platforms, either film, comics, TV, etc. Some of my earliest influences vary, as I’ve been more into making sure a solid story is told. I love the old silent films that were able to propel a story simply through strong visuals and light dialogue. F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922), is a masterpiece of story-telling as well as The Man Laughs (1928)…both were powerful films without the use of words. I have continued to be impressed by that.
From there, I love the Shaw Brother films. I have a soft-spot for the old-school kung-fu movies.
Finally the blaxploitation films of the 1970’s have always drawn me in.
- What books did you collect or read growing up?
I started collecting late actually. I didn’t really start solid collecting until I was 18, while in college. I came across the first printing of Spawn and think some issues of X-Men (Jim Lee’s run) and then I collected the Milestone Comics titles (Icon, Hardware, and Blood Syndicate)…from there (although I’m picky with what I get) I’ve been collecting ever since. Right now, I’m digging Batman: Zero Year. I like to see creative translations to the “origin story” of a character, particularly, a staple like Batman. I find those re-imaginings (when done “right”) a fun read. Other than that, I’m always looking for new titles to read on. One of the more interesting and enjoyable “newer” characters of the 2000’s (in my opinion) has been Robert Kirkman’s Invincible title.
- Who do you think are the top five black superheroes out there and why?
I’ve always been a fan of Black Panther. His intellect is a big thing for me. I’m a LARGE advocate for education and intelligence. I’ve always said that you can have all the power in the world, but without the knowledge to utilize it properly, you’re still just as vulnerable as the “weakest” amongst us. Panther embodies wisdom, skill-set and foresight to make him a formidable opponent for anyone crossing him.
Blade is cool as I’m a martial artist myself and I love the film translation of the character (Blade 1&2 specifically – lol). That translation and film laid the foundation for how the MARVEL film franchises are now. That campaign really doesn’t get the credit it’s owed for the current efforts.
Storm is the proverbial Black female superhero. Although not the only one…definitely one of the MOST recognized and acknowledged.
I’m digging the current New 52 translation of Cyborg. I think, given a solid storyline and creative team, this character can really continue to be a standout. I’ll continue to see as time progresses.
John Stewart put style into the GL uniform. It’s kind of like what the new version of Nick Fury has done for the character’s fan base…without just re-doing the character’s appearance. I’d like to see more substance built for the character. Time will tell for him as well.
I had to mention, Luke Cage. With the possibility of this character getting a film or TV translation and the fact a friend of mine could possibly play him on those platforms…I’m a fan. I also really enjoyed his MARVEL MAX series from a few years back. I would like to see the hero to be more self-sustaining (as a superhero) and not some “hero for hire”. I think a good re-imagining of his origin would be good.
- If you could rewrite any character which one would it be and why?
Oh, wow…good question. To be honest, it tends to depend on what mood I’m in at that moment. I know that sounds a bit open ended…but it’s difficult to pick just one specific character. If I had to say, right now, I’d rewrite STEEL. I’m sure DC is probably about to do some sort of re-imagining of this character…but, I’d like to have a crack at him.
- Given the success of books like Watson & Holmes and Midnight Tiger, what other books do you see having mainstream appeal?
There are a few books that have potential of generating a nice mainstream audience…Dion Floyd’s Urban Sprawl is a very solid sci-fi title that I’d like to see get added attention. I like Ant by Mario Gully, as well. Between the two, I can see each having a solid draw and audience with the proper promotion and title awareness. But, there are a number of other independent titles that would pull a nice audience.
I definitely intend to see my own studio titles generate a nice following in the near future, as well.
- If there were anything you would say to someone looking to get into the comic industry; especially a person of color; what would it be?
Stay focused and dedicated to your craft. There are going to be a great many obstacles and negativity that come in front. There are going to also be many “empty promises” made back and forth. Again, stay focused. Make connections, network, and keep your craft solid. It’s a very “WHO YOU KNOW AND WHAT YOU KNOW” industry, especially for a “Creator of Color”.
- Is there anyone in particular you would like to work with in the future or on a book?
I’m fortunate in a way as I am already working with a couple of individuals right now that I have wanted to work with. Terry Crews on one, and Kevin Grevioux on another. It’s just a matter of getting the projects completed at this point. Without going into details about them, I can say that they will be very exciting and intense properties. I’m immensely honored to be doing them. As well as another project in development with Public Enemy that I promise will be very action-packed.
As for a wish-list of other creators, I’d love to work with the following:
- Antoine Fuqua
- Jim Lee
- Spike Lee
- Michael Mann
I’d like to work with creators in varied media platforms…since story-telling vehicles are crossing all over anyway.
- What project or projects are you currently working on?
Right now, there are a number of projects that are being worked on right now. All are original titles that will be launched over the course of the next 12 months. AHR VISIONS is currently doing our “FIRST WAVE” of titles, with the launching of our flag-ship titles consisting of The 8 (our feature super-hero title), Black Rose (our gangster/superhero title), SKORN (our feature female lead title), ReBirth (our core sci-fi title)
- What’s the experience been like working in comics?
Just like any arena…it has it opportunities and weaknesses. But, nothing good or worthwhile comes easy. Otherwise, everyone would do it. There is competition within every industry. It’s up to the individual to stick with it to see his/her visions come to light. I’m really just getting started and I have knowledge of what to expect. It won’t be easy…but, I see the benefits of attaining the objectives I have. That outweighs the any anticipated (and unanticipated) efforts to come. (lol)
- Why do you think it’s so hard for Indy creators to get mainstream coverage?
I don’t think it’s so much hard as it is another task to overcome. Having a network in place that has connections from both the business and creative sides can do wonders for an indie studio. As I mentioned before, “who you know” is SO important. Networking, as in any business, is vital to getting things moving in the manner desired. And that takes work. But again, it pays off.
- Which of your black characters do you think fans should keep an eye on? Why?
Dean Hannibal (The 8) – This character is the “superman”-level figure of the AHRV universe. He is the leader in of The 8 and will be a major staple in the studio’s flagship superhero title.
Solomon Moor/Black Rose (Black Rose) – A merger of hero and villain, Solomon Moor will be a character that many people, with and without his resources, can connect to on various level. Everyone can appreciate having a layered life. Which, is an understatement in his case.
- Name three independent books that you would like to see as movies.
Besides my titles (lol)…Invincible, Grendel, and Savage Dragon
NOTE: Each would have to be taken really seriously…nothing made just to say it was done.
- What is the biggest obstacle that Indy creators must overcome to be taken seriously alongside mainstream companies like Marvel and DC Comics?
The biggest thing is that the indie comic cannot approach their title as an inferior product because it’s not at a MARVEL or DC level. Low expectation is the biggest hindrance. And keep in mind…MARVEL and DC weren’t always “MARVEL and DC”. Each started at a time when comics were not taken remotely serious. And taking into account that each are pushing almost 80 years in effort respectively plays a factor, I would think.
Also, make sure the Indie title is a strong property. Content quality is a MUST. No question about it. The written content and strength, the visual spectacle, unified flow between them to tell a good story, pace to keep the audience vested…most importantly, characters that the fans can relate to and connect with. Don’t make a comic, just to say it was made.
Finally it also helps to have a strong action plan that will position your title in a good spotlight within the market. That can vary from studio/creator to studio/creator. But an action plan is essential.
- Why do you think it’s important to have Black Superheroes?
The world is full of diverse and varied elements. Many of which are those that can take a positive and/or negative spin. Currently, there is a lot of depictions in the media that do not reflect the most positive and empowering of images of the African-American community. Children, all children, are impacted by this. Superheroes, and images that are larger than life, inspire hope and spark ideas. Showing powerful and awe-inspiring images that reflect the people of our communities give hope to those that relate to the characters’ likenesses and put positive perceptions in others of the people such characters resemble.
Learn more about Abdul H. Rashid below
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