Why You Should Be Reading… Rutgers University Press’ The Blacker The Ink!

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It’s that time again, and you Sir or Madam should know once the weekend comes so does WHY YOU SHOULD BE READING… With yours truly Grainbelt Jones. As always I wish everyone well and happy reading….

This week we are taking a break from reviewing a specific Comic title, but actually discussing a book that can be used as a point of reference for your personal creations. There are plenty of aspiring writers out there, so I thought it would be a good idea to discuss a book I myself am reading, and can help you on your path of creation. With the talks of diversity becoming a major topic in not only the comic genera but all medium as a whole, it only makes sense us young up and comers should be making the effort to research the diversity barriers that were broken before us. I have spoke about the trouble of diversity before and how I wish there was a broader representation on comic shelves across America, however the lack of said diversity has inspired me to help facilitate these ideals into a reality by contributing to diversification in whatever way I can, and this book can only help by gaining knowledge on how to do so. I hope there are more out there who are interested in doing the same in their own personal way!

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Blacker the Ink is a book contrived of essays which focus on the topic of diversity and how black artist, writers, and publishers have pushed the boundaries by making their mark on the industry. Each essay is written by a well respected, and knowledgable writer with the book edited and compiled by Frances Gateward and John Jennings. These two put in the work and delivered not only a well conceived project, but a joy to read with plenty of content to ponder on and inspire.

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One thing I found that worked to my advantage was to not read this book straight in order, my ADHD was just not having it, and I found it to be hard at first to digest. The best way to tackle this book is to use the essays as a guide and start with your own personal interests. Now that I have gone back and read more of the book in order, it is clear there was a design and an intended order on how they presented such works, however it is not a necessity to follow the path that has been laid out before you. I say bounce around, pick what strikes your fancy first, and that will suck you into the project as a whole, it is also a good idea to keep a highlighter handy because you will want to go back and reference this information in the future. As far as the load, some of the essays are kind of heavy but this is a good thing, for me I could do about 3 or a so in one sitting, not because it wasn’t interesting but more so the writers all did an excellent job of going deep with each analysis, and for that you may need to re visit your favorite ones time and time again, only to pull out something new and relevant with each read. The books potential to be read over and over again is very, very high and in my opinion a must, there is just no way you can fully digest each completed essay on one or even multiple reads, that is why I personally, am heavily pushing this as an excellent guide or tool that quite frankly could have a curriculum built around it, but that is my humble opinion. I can’t stress enough how much I learned by dipping in the mind of such talented, expressive and powerful writers.

blacker3Lastly, I need to praise how unapologetically black this is, that doesn’t mean not everyone can read this so please don’t be scared off by this statement, however I felt it needed to be acknowledged that each writer had no fear in writing how they truly felt and laid out all the facts without the feel they were over shadowed by the PC police. Again this doesn’t mean not everyone can enjoy or learn from this book, this doesn’t mean this book is going to overly bash all black ideals into your head either, its just the context is appealing to read because I never got the feel the writer were being censored or censoring themselves, so hats off to the editing team for accomplishing the feeling of reading a REAL publication.  They were willing to show no fear in discussing certain issues that pertain to how difficult it can be diversifying comic mediums, and how far we have come in this process. As far as I can tell Rutgers University Press seems to be on the independent side of the coin which may be a huge reason why they had the freedom to display this project in the fashion they seemed fit, which is very open and honest discussions about the topic of diversity, and where it has gone and where it has been. I strongly suggest to anyone no matter the race to take the challenge that this book has to offer and apply it to your work in the future, if you plan on shaping comics by diversifying your stories, this is probably a good reference point that can help manifest just that.

Well everyone as always I hope you liked the read, and please enjoy your weekend, I will catch you on the flip, Grainbelt Jones signing off for WHY YOU SHOULD BE READING…

– Grainbelt Jones

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