Recently, i was awarded the huge honor of being able to interview a brotha that i respect HIGHLY in the literary world, David F Walker. Not just comics, not just Youth Adult, not just black… but PERIOD. Walker is a man who has planted his foot print FIRMLY in the literary and film industry, and did so with basically a NO F**KS GIVEN attitude. Walker is author of MANY titles and series, such as BadAzz MoFo Collection, Becoming Black: Personal Ramblings on Racial Identification, Racism, and Popular Culture, Super Justice Force (The Adventures of Darius Logan), Number 13, Doc Savage, The Army of Dr Moreau, The Supernal’s Experiment, Spaghetti Westerns, the newly appointed writer of the upcoming series CYBORG…. and of course, our beloved latest series of complete obsession: SHAFT. Walker has also written and directed many films including one of my personal faves: MACKED, HAMMERED, SLAUGHTERED and SHAFTED. Walker is outspoken as they come, and can back up every drop of it, turning his verbal into adjective filled movement. I have been following his work for a few years now, but researching for this interview had me in full GEEK.MODE. I knew the brotha accomplished a lot, but now i’m COMPLETELY floored. Not only is he professionally full, his ego is NOT. My entire point of interviewing Walker was to introduce many to the OTHER side of him, the one that isn’t just filled with SHAFT. Many people are interviewing him with the energy that the SHAFT series has some how…. MADE him. The man was making CLINICAL moves far before the Shaft series was even conceived. His blog series alone holds massive weight. I am very honored to have him take the time to deal with my “Crown is pretending to be a journalist” antics lol.
With that being said, let’s get to know Mr David F Walker…
David F. Walker. The F stands for Funktavious
Writer, occasional filmmaker, and crime fighter.
BOOKS/ SERIES you’ve created and/or worked on::
Let’s see… NUMBER 13 is a mini-series I co-created for Dark Horse Comics with artist Robert Love (we’ve also done some short stories, and we’re developing a new project). THE SUPERNAL’S EXPERIMENT is a mini-series i wrote for NFL player Phillip Buchanon’s Canon Comics. SUPER JUSTICE FORCE: THE ADVENTURES OF DARIUS LOGAN is my debut YA novel. THE ARMY OF DR. MOREAU comes out as a trade paperback from IDW sometime in March 2015. I’m currently writing both the SHAFT comic for Dynamite Entertainment, as well as the novel SHAFT’S REVENGE. And it was just announced that I’m writing CYBORG for DC. There’s some other stuff, but at this point I just sound like I’m bragging.
Congrats on the new CYBORG project. Being a SISTA from Detroit, im very excited about that. I plan on promoting that more than life itself! Detroit needs all the positivity we can find, being that the media makes a field day trying to kill us off like we are over here dead. What was your deciding factor on taking that project? Also, please give a brief description of the storyline::
DC asked and I jumped on the opportunity. I’ve loved Cyborg since I was a kid, and saw it as an opportunity to work with an interesting character, while at the same time getting in front of a lot of new readers. And I won’t lie, the thought of helping bring a complex black character to life, who can inspire all readers, is a challenge I wanted to undertake.
How did SHAFT reach DAVID F WALKER? “Inquiring minds wanna know”::
I wanted to do this project for many years. The original SHAFT novel was written by Ernest Tidyman (there seven books in the series). I got in touch with Tidyman’s widow, and pitched the idea to her. From there I went to Dynamite. The rest is history.
Many are now recently being introduced to you because of SHAFT series. It is my SWORN duty not to make this another SHAFT AND SHAFT ONLY interview. Many still for some crazy reason don’t even realize how MUCH you’ve done out here. Which project do you find the most enjoyment out of, and why? Also, how did it help you further build yourself professionally?::
Every project has a special place in my heart. The most significant will always be my novel, SUPER JUSTICE FORCE. This is me at my most pure as a storyteller. Unlike comics or film, there no collaboration with this one, which means its success or its failure is mine and mine alone.
What/who were your creative inspirations as far as writers and/or artists, and how did their energy season you into becoming who you are today?::
My family is probably the biggest influence on me. My mom and my grandmother bought me books and comic books, and encouraged me to read. And no one ever tried to put the brakes on my imagination. My mom would take me to the movies, and the next day I’d be acting it out for my grandmother and my great aunts, and none of them ever told me to stop or to shut up. On a less personal level, I was definitely inspired by the people who made the comics and movies that I loved growing up. They activated my dreams.
Ok. Time for that QUESTION:: Do you think that sexism exists in comic book industry? (I will ask this every week, America, so deal with it, lol)::
Of course it exists. It exists in America, so therefore it exists in the comic industry, and all industries for that matter. The big problem is that sexism is so much a part of our culture, that sometimes we don’t even notice when we’re perpetrating it. I catch myself sometimes, and really look at hard at what I’ve just said or did, and then realize that I’ve just been a sexist jackass. But there are people who are doing their best to turn things around—both women and men.
What do you feel needs to be changed in order for the advancement of women in your industry?::
People need to stop being ignorant. If we can do that, sexism, racism, and all the other isms will be laid to rest. Honestly, that’s what it comes down to. People need to stop being afraid of women (and everyone else they fear/hate/misunderstand). The sad truth is that there are some people who won’t read comics created by women, or starring female characters, simply because they are stuck in a distorted cognitive state. I don’t know how to change that—if I did, I’d have done it by now. What I can do, on a personal level, is support women in the industry, and encourage others to do the same.
What got you interested in independent film making? Do you enjoy films better than books when it comes to your craft?::
I loved film as much as I loved comics, and have always wanted to do both. Ultimately, both are forms of storytelling, and that’s what I love to do. Film is cruel, however. It will take all your money, and give you nothing in return. I’ve made a handful of films, and while I’ve enjoyed aspects of the process, and haven’t enjoyed it in it’s entirety. I can’t show you a single film I’ve made and say, “This is a fair representation of what I set out to do.” By contrast, a comic like SHAFT, or my novel SUPER JUSTICE FORCE, are both works that achieved what I set out to do. Unless I get really inspired, or someone gives me a serious chunk of change, I’m done with film.
Twitter these days can make or break you, and I find that a bit effed up, to be honest. While this social media movement can be beneficial with promotion, time can be demanding trying to keep up with it. I get different opinions every time I ask anyone about it. Has social media been a big help or a hinderance to all things David F Walker?::
I think it has been helpful, but I think it is also important to remember that I had a fan base/followers going back to the ’90s. Before people tweeted on me, or at me, or whatever it is they do, I used to get letters in the mail. Before people went to my blog, they used to buy my magazine in stores all over the world. If anything, I feel like I’ve failed to effectively use social media to its fullest. But part of that is because I’m more concerned with writing and creating than I am in Tweeting.
Give us a quick but thorough summary of THE ADVENTURES OF DARIUS LOGAN and SUPER JUSTICE FORCE.::
It’s the story of an orphaned African-American teenage, who is about to be tried as an adult, and sent to prison. Instead, he is sent into a rehabilitation program for criminals, which finds him working for Super Justice, the world’s greatest superheroes. I tell people it is like Harry Potter meets Spider-Man, only better, cooler, and with a black kid in the lead. I’m way behind on the sequel, which will be done one of these days.
The #HandsUpDontShoot reference on the C cover for SHAFT #2, by Sanford Greene reflected all of the recent police brutalities as of late. It was a very welcoming surprise, and I was kind of shocked it made the cutting room floor. Do you think that the social injustices going on today affect your writing in any way?::
They affect me personally, so I suppose they affect me creatively as well. I see pictures of John Crawford or Trayvon Martin or Darrien Hunt, and I start to cry. Seriously. Someone recently posted these pictures of Darrien Hunt, and I just lost it. As a creator, I want to make stuff that is entertaining, but I have a responsibility to also explore issues that I feel strongly about. THE ADVENTURES OF DARIUS LOGAN is very much about the criminalization of black youth, though that message is hidden deep within the narrative of superheroes and killer robots.
A few in our community surprisingly aren’t familiar with your NUMBER 13 and THE ARMY OF DR MOREAU series. Do you think it’s harder to push titles into the Afrikaan centered community if the characters aren’t all predominantly black?::
It is hard to push anything, period. Despite what many of us say, most black people are Americans before they are African-Americans. By that I mean that the taste and preferences of a significant number of black folks is right in step with the dominant culture in this country. Let’s face it, more black people want to see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY than they do SELMA. The key is to make a film like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, have it feature a significant number of people of color. When it comes to comics, most people just want to read what they know, and have fun. American is a capitalist country populated by consumers, and consumerism thrives on familiarity. All people buy what they’re familiar with. This becomes more complicated for black folks on two levels. First, we are most familiar with the white male hero, just like the rest of America. Second, many of us are brainwashed to the extent that we have trouble conceiving any hero that falls outside the dominant paradigm. In other words, we’re not used to seeing black heroes—they are unfamiliar to us—and therefore we have trouble accepting them. But there are other complicated issues to keep in mind, ranging from how distribution and retail side of the industry works, to how black journalists/critics cover black comics, to the black comics themselves.
BECOMING BLACK: PERSONAL RAMBLINGS OF RACIAL IDENTIFICATION, RACISM, AND POP CULTURE is the ALL to me. That was the sole reason I wanted to interview you, to be honest. That book is VERY powerful. I wish it was a requirement in high schools. What brought you to write that book?::
In 2011, I went back to school to get my undergraduate degree after a twenty-plus year hiatus. BECOMING BLACK was my senior project. In many ways it is the culmination of who I am, as a person, writer, historian, and critical thinker.
You recently participated in John Jennings’ event, BLACK COMIX ARTS FESTIVAL in January. I was so sad to have missed it, but everyone doesn’t have spare Falcon wings like Jennings does, lol. It’s always great to see people who have reached your level participate in cultural based events. Many times, people feel that once they “cross over” (I hate that term), they STAY there. How important is it that you give back to your own community by participating in events of that nature?::
My community is a huge part of why I’m doing this in the first place, so I hope to continue to participate in as many as possible. I love the sense of community that exists within the world of black comics—both from the standpoint of fans and creators. It isn’t exactly a tightly knit community, but it exists. Being around folks like John Jennings, Jerry Craft, Spike Trotman, and the Love Brothers—these people are my family. And the readers and fans are my family too. There is a connection that happens at these shows that reminds me of why I do what I do, and fuels my creative fire.
Ok, less serious stuff: if you could have ANNNNY two characters be your homies in REAL time, who would they be and WHY?::
Felix the Cat- he’s got that bag of tricks. Gonzo from the Muppet Show, because I’d always feels like the normal one when he’s around.
Are there any new or upcoming projects/events you’re brainstorming?::
Working on a bunch of things, including the sequel to SUPER JUSTICE FORCE, a new collaboration with Robert Love, and an upcoming series for DC. And then there’s the stuff I can’t talk about (cue sinister laugh).
Where can we find you online? Links, Handles, Hashtags, Bribes::
Thedavidwalkersite.com; badazzmofo.com; facebook.com/davidwalkerwriter; @DavidWalker1201 twitter; @mofoman68 instagram; SuperJusticeForce.com
Any last thoughts, screams, rants, praises, etc?::
I love the growing community of black nerds/geeks, or whatever they’re calling themselves. I’d like to see more of them get behind issues and projects that are specific to us. Honestly, I’m disappointed that more of my fellow black nerds are more concerned about what’s going on with episodes of SCANDAL than they are the death of Darrien Hunt. I don’t mind them talking about mainstream comics, but I’d like to see them dedicate more energy to indie stuff—even if it isn’t indie black comics. I just want to expand their interests, speak out more for their brothers and sister, and lastly, but not leastly, free their minds, so their ass will follow.