They Call Me Black Fist - Character Design Blog #1

So about five years ago I created a character named Black Fist. He was a greaser, a rockabilly warrior. He was part Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star and part Brian Setzer with a hefty splash of blaxploitation. He handled “jive situations” as he came across them with a combination of martial arts and pro wrestling maneuvers.

In short he was (and is) the best character I’ve ever made.

His first book, called They Call Me Black Fist, was a big hit for me. I have sold over 100 copies of They Call Me Black Fist, all by word-of-mouth with little promotion outside of me talking about it on social media. As much as I loved how much the character resonated with folx I found myself running into two brick walls when I started staring down the notion of starting issue number two of They Call Me Black Fist:

  1. I had performance anxiety. How was I gonna top the strength of that first issue? that was an anomaly of success that I did not see coming;

  2. White folx at comic conventions did NOT respond well to the character. At all. We’ll unpack that some other time, but let’s just say white consumers were 10:1 jerks and snobs about the concept of the character.

So I subconsciously put Black Fist on a shelf and, subsequently, my pseudo comics career. I was hurt emotionally and mentally and was scared as an artist to fail at meeting an expectation of quality.

Fast forward five years and my life has changed dramatically.

My personal and professional lives are invigorated by addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. I facilitate, panel, lead discussions, and talk about racism with anybody who wants to talk about it. I am more comfortable in my skin and as a creative-minded person than I have ever been. With this new clarity and drive comes a renewed effort to continue what I started: making a comic where a Black cisgender male who does not fit neatly into stereotypes and boxes fights for what’s right in his own way.

So…Black Fist is back. He’s back but not in the same way.

You see, part of my personal and professional journeys has been getting back into writing and creating art. And a great deal of that writing, as you can probably ascertain from visiting this website, is steeped in race and identity. Because of that I felt that while I can spin a surreal and funny yarn of a comic book tale that said yarn had to have some aspect of reality in it, something that the original Black Fist book did not incorporate. Once I started rethinking my approach to Black Fist I realized one thing: a reboot was in order.

I’m bringing Black Fist into a reality where many of the things he faces will be connected to systemic issues and oppression in the United States in some fashion. The humor, the heart, none of that is going away. My goal is to take that humor and heart and intersect it with social issues to create a book that is even more out of the box than it’s predecessor! To do that, however, I realized that the character of Black fist himself was due for a revamp. Character redesign a-go-go!

So here’s your first look at the new character design update for Black Fist. He’s stockier now; broad shouldered and barrel chested but still long legged. I updated his facial features as well, making his nose and jawline more defined. I think this is more aesthetically pleasing than the original Black Fist design (see third pic). What do y’all think? Old or new?

Stay tuned for more in-progress Black Fist work in the coming weeks!