Tales of the Talented Tenth: Bass Reeves
So, after much discussion with my publisher I am pushing off Strange Fruit vol 2, but I am…
I write things with pictures (less typos that way)
Frontispiece by Jim Starlin and Ernie Chan from Rampaging Hulk magazine #7, published by Marvel, February 1978.
Anonymous asked: How often do you use the word nigga in casual conversation?
I used to have this word in my vocabulary as a kid growing up in new york city with a good amount of brown friends.
I was pretty good about not dropping it unless I was with a group of people who were also brown and only used it when they did.
These sound like excuses, and they sort of are.
I got comfortable using a word that was problematic. It didn’t help that I also had a similar problem with a pretty common slur for homosexuals.
I had made really good friends with a gay teacher at my school who called me out on both terms. I went off on that Eminem tip that the word blah blah blah doesn’t mean what it means, but he pretty much was like ‘so use another word that isn’t a slur that means what you want to say.’
I can’t recall which song it was off the top of my head, but some rapper had said “my dudes” and it sort of clicked in my head.
It means the same exact thing. Just less likely to get someone mad. Shit, I even sub it out in rap songs sometimes when I sing to myself.
i do sound a little silly when I sing that Jay-z song, but fuck that dude.
Not to make this a roundtable on the word “nigga,” but I have never used it in casual conversation. I was raised to view it as a slur—in all forms. I was taught that one who is a lady should never use the word. To use it would not be feminine.
This is likely why I am so furious with ignorant people who are not black blaming their use of the word on rappers, the black teens in their neighborhood, etc. I have probably heard the word daily since I was a child, and yet I do not use the word. I have no desire to. And there is no jealousy when I see the men in my family use it sans repercussion. If you use the word and you are not black, you are simply broadcasting your complete lack of respect for black people. If you use the word and you are black? Well, you just like to curse!
Because of the level of interracial marriage in my family, we’re getting browner, and I wonder what kind of effect it will have on our language. I remember being younger and having heated debates over Jennifer Lopez’s use of the word. It infuriated me. My cousins? Not so much. “So, Fat Joe says it all the time and it doesn’t bother you.”
"But Fat Joe looks like us." My cousins didn’t get it. And with a family containing people that don’t look like us, but clearly are "us," I’m not so sure I got it either.
Language is complicated. Race is too.
I never say that…anymore. I remember being home in the south for a holiday and my grandma said it quietly about some people at the door. I think I am the only one who heard it. My wife is white. My grandma, sisters, aunts, uncles and mom said it all the time when I was little but stopped when I got married. I stopped when I went to college. My per group became more diverse. That is probably when I also started to sound “white”. I used to hear it in my head at times. I never say it casually. As a professor and now an associate dean I never even hear it anymore. Except when I listen to music.
aleskot asked: So, Garth Ennis -- his writing was and is hugely influential for me. I would say "Preacher" formed my ethics to a certain extent, because I read it at the right age (14-16), and I am happy about that -- it gave me a better idea of what friendship can be, of what family can be, of what love can be. It told me that I wasn't the only person in the world that saw love and friendship and family the way I did. My question is, how important is Preacher to you and why?
comicwise: Preacher is important to me because of Steve Dillon. I know that he only did two of the specials but as far as the main series goes, he drew them all and that was a big deal in 1994-2000.
Steve Dillon taught me about the understated about deadpan cartooning. I had access to Preacher before I had access to Daniel Clowes’ Eightball comics so that straight-faced deadpan style had no other obvious parallel to me. Comics being able to do BIG as well as small was a new concept to me. I came out of the Jim Lee/Joe Madureira era of comic books and so Steve Dillon’s approach was just about alien to me.
One thing that Dillon excelled at was the many subtle movements of the human face. His facial expressions are still what I think about when I think of how faces move.
People dream of superpowers: The superpower that I most often daydream about is Jesse Custer’s Word Of God. The absolute savagery that Custer inflicted on people with his powers still bends my mind. Making a group of soldiers run away…forever. Making a guy count every grain of sand on the beach. Telling a guy to fuck himself. It makes the brain reel. The amount of harm that one character was permitted to inflict at his own discretion. What was also interesting is that he never used his powers for sexual purposes. It made the series much easier to tolerate in its brutality when you knew up front that the man who can do anything had some basic sense of boundaries. I think about that detail of the comic a lot, actually.
Which brings us to Tulip: The thing that was sadly ironic is that in the end, Jesse did undermine Tulip’s will in a pretty horrific way. He didn’t use his powers but it was still deeply disappointing (and frankly not well-considered by Ennis).
But still—before all that: The relationship between Jesse and Tulip was fantastic. It was one of the earliest examples of an adult, romantic, sexual relationship that I’d ever seen. I think that I was sixteen years old when I first read an issue of Preacher, though I had heard of the series (it was heavily promoted in Wizard magazine).
The relationships that I saw in movies or in the novels that they had us read in high school were all corroded. The thing about Preacher that was new and different to me was that for the most part, for the meat of the story, Jesse and Tulip’s relationship was good. It was just GOOD. They had rough external experiences, they had internal disagreements and fights but there was something else there. They really didn’t spend a lot of time with the relationship itself in ~TERRIBLE JEOPARDY~ and that is something that opened a new passageway in my brain. That a relationship could just *be* and that external things can effect the members of that relationship, external things can effect the relationship itself, but that a relationship can still have its own consistency and coherence.
I’m going to have to go and reference Johji Manabe’s Drakuun again because I personally read that before Preacher (or maybe approximately the same time? I don’t know) but Drakuun probably opened my mind to adults having sex and still going about their lives (“lives” consisting of adventuring and evil empires, but still).
Getting carried away…
oh goodness the VIOLENCE: so here’s something to go along with my answer to David Brothers. The climactic battle between Jesse and Jody at the end of “Until The End Of The World” is one of my single-digit FAVORITE fight scenes in my reading experience of comics. It was brutal and horrifying and still carried the full weight of emotional payoff that the story had been building up to. I probably wouldn’t put any fight scene in any comic book ahead of this. And only a handful tie with this.
And it’s also regularly funny. Like wow, your stomach muscles are contracting and a sound is coming out! But at the end, all of these elements come together and I just ~cared~ about the characters.
Had to pawn my belief in Christ to find out: I actually was a really religious kid. I was extremely, painfully conflicted about reading this comic at the time and actually tore up a few issues in a fit of god-fearingness.
But I never threw out the pieces. And down the line, I was talking with a friend in college and I made a choice: all those nights that I was talking to God, I was talking to myself. And I should just face what’s inside of me and embrace nothingness.
That might be burying the lede but it takes a bit of working up to reveal something that personal. It isn’t so simple as “I quit God to read more comic books,” but scrutinizing my obsessive compulsive prayer and weighing the logistics of the “god” concept I think that I needed to get out of religion and this comic book was simply one of several keys that unlocked my mind.
At the end of it all, it still comes back to this series being so good at making me think about human emotions. Like so: