An Afro-Futurist Graphic Novel
The Black and Blue Story Project commissioned 6 incredible artists – three adults and three teens – to co-create a comic that takes a “hero’s journey” through an Afro-Futurist New Orleans in search of justice, police transformation and a world with human rights for all. Written for youth ages 12-18, this comic tells a gripping story and includes activities and strategies to help youth create conversation about a future of policing that provides safety for all. We created this comic with YAYA, Inc, an iconic New Orleans arts center that provides education in arts and entrepreneurship to youth.
In November 2021, the Team began a series of live online workshops about graphic storytelling with Steve Prince, read articles and watched videos about the life and work of New Orleans pioneering policewoman and community leader Yvonne Bechet (1934-2020), and discussed a few core ideas including Sankofa, the West African concept of looking to the past in order to move forward.
In January 2022, the Team began creating characters and drawing initial storyboards inspired by a series of online conversations, articles, podcasts and videos they engaged with over the course of several weeks. In May 2022 they begin the process of illustrating, lettering and coloring the 30-page Issue #1. They are continuing weekly meetings to develop the comic, which is progressing beautifully.
Emergent Strategy: We use the nine principles outlined in Adrienne Maree Brown’s book Emergent Strategy to guide both our creative process and the content of the graphic novel itself:
Small is good, small is all.
Change is constant (Be like water).
There is always enough time for the right work.
Never a failure, always a lesson.
If you trust the people, they become trustworthy.
Move at the speed of trust.
Focus on critical connections more than critical mass.
Less prep, more presence.
What you pay attention to grows.
Youth Empowerment: Our project moves fluidly between youth leadership, adult mentorship and group creation, trusting the intelligence and intuition of the teen artists.
Collaborative Creation: We value a process that is truly collaborative, with each artist bringing their own skill set into the center of the work.
Shared Copyright: We value shared investment: when complete, all six artists will share the copyright to this comic.
THE ARTISTS // The YAYAs
These three teens are resident artists at YAYA, Inc
Keith is 19 years old and attends Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. He dreams of being a well-known professional comic book artist with his own franchise.
Blair is 17 years old and attends Willow High School. He creates art using digital mediums like procreate. His work incorporates influences from graffiti, cartoons, and skate culture. He is also interested in Glassblowing and Mixed Media Arts.
Morgan is 16 years old and attends Ben Franklin high school. She loves being able to bounce ideas off of other artists, collaborate, get tips, and experiment with new mediums in order to grow. She believes that art is cleansing, drawing is limitless.
THE ARTISTS // The Professionals
Steve is an artist, educator and art evangelist. His mediums are printmaking, drawing and sculpture. Steve is a native of New Orleans and the Crescent City's rich tradition of art, music and religion pulsate through his work. He is currently the Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at William and Mary College, and is represented by Eyekons Gallery.
Sharika is a visual artist and art educator based in New Orleans. Her style has been described as joyful, happy and even healing. Her background in visual art, particularly her participation in the renowned YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists) youth art program throughout high school and college, has laid the foundation for her entrepreneurial spirit to promote her art through gallery exhibits and festivals nationally.
Angélique is an attorney, journalist, producer, host, moderator, voiceover artist, and co-author of the non-fiction book, My Super Hero is Black, forthcoming from Marvel / Simon and Schuster / Gallery Books. She has contributed to Harper’s Bazaar, NBC News, Black Girl Nerds, Syfy Wire, Marvel, Nerdist, and Rewire News. She is originally from Port Allen, LA.
We know what happens to young people (people of all ages!) when they get a great comic book in their hands: they become absorbed, they start imagining alternative worlds and narratives, and they start talking about it.
When our comic book is complete, we will work with community partners to distribute the comic free to schools, community centers and summer camps throughout Louisiana.
We will consult regularly with youth leaders and teachers, camp counselors and other youth development workers on ways young people can adapt our comic book and creative process to inspire cultural and political actions of their own to reduce, re-direct and otherwise reform the law enforcement systems in their communities.
OUR GOAL: to inspire at least 25 new youth-led cultural and political actions across Louisiana each year by 2025 that we will then support through the creation of a small community-based arts fund based in part upon future income from the comic book.