I’ve always loved reading. Growing up I generally gravitated towards the short stories & novels listed in the Weekly Reader though. I’m fairly certain comic books were a pretty big deal back then but I don’t remember being overly interested in them. I do however, remember taking at least one of my younger brothers on a few long bus rides to get his comic book fix though. Public transportation and street lights dictated how long we ever stayed anywhere, so while he looked for superheros, I scanned the shelves for interesting titles I might relate to. Every now and then I’d buy one just for kicks. Years later I’d buy them from thrift stores. I used them for letter writing purposes & collages. Yep, I cut up magazine and books way back then too.
There was one comic book though that I absolutely refused to cut up. Brother Man marked the first comic book I’d ever seen with a person of color on the cover. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any back in the day, it just means I hadn’t seen any yet. Either way it wasn’t something I took lightly. I still have it. As a matter of fact I think I even put it in one of those plastic sleeves to preserve it. It’s safely tucked away with an old issue of Richie Rich and Howard The Duck. Hey, I was a kid, don’t judge me!
Anyway, a few months ago I stumbled across Concrete Park. Similar to my experience when I found Brother Man I was immediately struck by the vast array of characters of color on the page. I kept reading and discovered that the entire operation was the brainchild of Tony Puryear, his wife Erika Alexander and her brother Robert Alexander.
Wait…did you happen to catch that? Okay, lemma say it again. One of the people behind Concrete Park is actress Erika Alexander. Some of you may remember her best as Maxine Shaw, the character she portrayed on one of my all time favorite shows “Living Single”. Now that may or may not register as exciting for y’all, but I love learning that people I grew up watching on television are doing creative work like this. I’d vote for seeing more endeavors like this over watching folks act up on one of those celebrity rehab shows any day.
After further investigation I also learned that Concrete Park not only creates sci-fi graphic novels but they facilitated a Concrete Park Earth Tour in 2012 with a focus on storytelling across the globe. I have no idea what the content of this particular novel includes as I have not picked up a copy, but If you include arts education, youth and global endeavors in your work plan, I feel like at the very least I should share the information with the people. If any of you happen to check it out further please drop us a line and share your thoughts on it. In the meantime I might go look for my old comic book stash -devoya