Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign for the original graphic novel, Black! For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the title, what inspired you to tell this story, and what was the genesis of your collaboration with Tim Smith 3?
Kwanza Osajyefo: I came up with the story about 10 years ago. Tim and I knew each other from my time at Marvel, so when the idea struck me, I approached him at MoCCA Festival.
Tim has a different approach to character design that I hadn’t seen in comics. His style immediately struck me as how I wanted the characters in BLACK represented.
Life got in the way, so I ended up sitting on the idea while I pursued my editorial career at DC Comics.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from this project, and how do you hope that it will impact the comic book industry as a whole?
KO: For readers, I hope it is an entertaining exploration into the struggles and conflicts of humanity. People are influenced by their personal experiences and perceptions, the choices we make aren’t often black or white.
The industry has room to grow, not just in regards to content but also viewpoints. Comics have been dominated by a white male aesthetic for most of its history, and I think books like BLACK are part of inevitable shift in the creative culture and readership.
BD: Black possesses a myriad of amazingly talented creators. What are you able to share with us regarding the creative team behind the graphic novel and their contributions to the project?
KO: Thanks for the compliment. I’m blushing for the whole team. I took a different approach in seeking partners on BLACK. Tim again has a unique perspective on how the characters look, what they wear, and the tools they use.
Jamal brings an experienced hand to the interior illustrations. His work is detailed and energetic, but he’s amazingly fast at producing quality art. I worked with him on projects at DC, and he blew me away. Jamal’s thumbnails are better than some artists' finished pages.
I met Khary in part because people in comics always confused us with each other, the difference being he actually has talent. You can see that in the cover for BLACK which is, without a doubt, worth a thousand words.
Sarah Litt keeps us in line. I was an editor most of my career and know the value of a good one. Sarah is the best and one of very few I would trust with BLACK. She makes sure we are coherent and will tell me when my ideas suck.
BD: As mentioned, you recently initiated a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise money for the production costs of the graphic novel. What encouraged you to use this specific fundraising method, and why do you feel that it has been such a successful tool for independent creators like yourself?
KO: Validation. Crowdfunding is about building a community with a clear means of telling you that your work resonates with them. Technology has brought us to a place where an audience -- and not a publisher -- can empower creators to bring their ideas to life.
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to the Black Kickstarter campaign, are there any specific backer rewards that may interest our readers?
KO: Most of the rewards include a copy of BLACK, which is a limited edition. After the Kickstarter ends, there will be no more editions like it – a true collector's item.
BD: Do you have plans for expanding Black into an ongoing series?
KO: My original intention was that BLACK be a singular book. I’m not a fan of the periodical system of publishing, but the response to our project has been so amazing. I’m open to exploring narratives based on continued response.
I may choose alternate methods of execution and distribution, as with our stretch goal to produce the Mann Diaries for mobile platforms like LINE Web Toons.
Ultimately, I want tell stories that I hope people are interested in and not just churn out content to take up space on a shelf. I never want to produce a fill-in issue.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Black and its creators?
KO: They can start at our Kickstarter page.
The whole team is on Twitter, so you can find us there, as well.