Monday, May 2, 2011
In the third of our 5 Questions series of interviews, Street Team artist Stanley Weaver steps up to the plate to give the lowdown on the newly released book and much more in the first of a set of interviews with the full collective! Hope you enjoy!
1) For people who may not be familiar with you, could you please give us a quick introduction?
My name is Stanley Weaver, Jr. I had my first encounter with comic book heroes at the age of 5, when my mother and father bought me my very first Incredible Hulk action figure. Seeing this action figure inspired me to immediately start drawing, not on paper though, on the wall. I later went on to find an armless Spider-man action figure in the trash can at school. I picked him up and took him home so I could draw him as well. I didn't come across an actual comic book until the age of 10 when my father took me to the local convenience store to get some candy. There I saw an Incredible Hulk comic book and I begged my father to buy it for me. It was at that time I came to the realization that action figures came as a result of comic books. This is when I concluded that I wanted to draw comic books. I started off drawing comic strips before I did any comic books. I emulated strips like Marvin, Peanuts, and Garfield. It wasn't until the 7th grade that I started drawing comic books, along with a couple other guys who shared an interest in creating a book. I continued to draw here and there, but really became passionate after high school. I tried to pursue a career with Marvel, DC and Milestone comics, however their response to me was "You have a ton of talent, but just not good enough for us." I continued my attempts to make my dream of becoming an artist a reality, but to no avail. Disheartened, I didn't pick up a pencil to draw for the next five years. In 2005, at the age of 32, I was online and put "black comic book" into the search engine and came across the Black Super Hero website. While browsing the site, the passion to draw was reignited. I realized I don't have to work for a major comic book company to see my own work and talents be put to use. I picked up some independent projects from a couple members on the site, and continued to build a strong camaraderie with the rest of the members. And the rest is history.....
2) Without giving too much away, what are some things readers can look forward to with the Street Team comic?
The reader can expect a well drawn, well written story about the Street Team's attempt to take down Ogun and his goons. The book will be full of high energy, action packed, fast paced adventure. Two new heroines will also be introduced later down the line. The book follows closely with the soon to be released video game.
3) A number of fans and members of the black superhero community have expressed a general resistance to "street level" characters and stories in favor of a focus on more "high level" characters and concepts. What are your thoughts on this issue and what would you say to those who express these kind of thoughts?
Street level heroes give the creator a chance to keep a more realistic approach. We've all read and heard stories about the man that can metamorph into a super giant green Hulk, but how often do we see fictional heroes who resemble every day people? The idea of a big black man with dreads who uses a bat to beat someone to a pulp is more realistic than Superman flying down to save the victim.
4) Your artwork is notable for your, lets say, attention to detail of the female form. Why do you find it important to display the full spectrum of beauty of black women and what are your thoughts on the depictions of black female characters within mainstream comics?
I consider myself to be a connoisseur of the female form. I have a love and appreciation for women in general, but I got tired of seeing every black woman being depicted as a cookie cutter black woman. There is no variety in mainstream, she is a Barbie doll with dreads or an Afro. Mainstream plays is "safe" by making sure that the woman doesn't come across too "black". I wanted to show the colorful spectrum of the black woman, from size and shape to skin tone and hair style.
5) In some other interviews and discussions online, you have mentioned a desire to create a character who embodies the Black Experience of the Civil Rights Movement and the leadership of men like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. as having influenced the creation of one of your characters. There is an ongoing, seemingly never-ending, debate within the African-American community about the leadership void in the decades since the assassination of those two men. To get political for a second, what are your thoughts on this issue? And to bring it back to the world of comics, who (if anyone) would you hold up as examples of great Black leaders within the realm of the world of comics?
Me being a man who enjoys history, what really inspired me to create New Jerusalem (my comic book), was a documentary called "Eyes on the Prize". The two greatest leaders during the Civil Rights movement were Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. After their assassination, that leadership was lost and has yet to be replaced. We have great role models , but there is nobody who is out there that is 100% committed to the day to day issues and struggles of the black community. I wanted to create a leader for my comic book that embodies these two great men of the Civil Rights movement who gave their life for the advancement of our people. Marvel's character, Black Panther, is the only mainstream character that I can think of that has strong leadership qualities.
Thank you for your time Stan, it's been a pleasure. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to leave our readers?
To the readers, love what you do, do what you love. Don't allow mainstream media to dictate what you can or cannot do. All of us "small guys" can make a name for ourselves. Follow your passions and use your talents and work collaboratively and humbly to make your dreams a reality. Too often we allow our egos to get in the way of collective progress, but when we check our egos at the door, a creation like Street Team can come to fruition.