Best known for her memorable role as Maxine Shaw on the sitcom “Living Single” Erika Alexander’s latest endeavor isn’t a TV or film role, but instead a graphic novel series. Developed with her screenwriter husband, Tony Puryear, and her brother Robert Alexander, Concrete Park is set in the a dangerous near-future where gangs threaten to destroy humanity. The main characters are women of color: Luca, a gang leader, and Lena, her lesbian lover. The novels feature a multicultural cast of characters struggling to survive in an increasingly depraved world.

Alexander and her husband recently appeared at San Diego Comic-Con, the popular gaming and pop culture conference, to promote Concrete Park. The pair also recently appeared on the comedy podcast  Straight Riffin’.

Alexander is just one Hollywood actress of color to venture in the comic book world. Rosario Dawson developed a four-issue series called O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Task Force, which is currently being developed for television. Rashida Jones developed her own graphic novel series called  Frenemy of the State in 2009, which was optioned for the big screen by Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment.

Are you a comic book enthusiast? Have you read Dawson’s or Jones’ series? Will you give Concrete Park a try? 

33 Comments

  1. Not into comics, but this seems interesting.

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  2. A Comic Fan

    Hi Val,

    Not all comics feature characters in a “costume” i.e. Superman and Spiderman. Superheroes are one genre of comics, but there are others, just like in film and tv, including horror, thrillers, sci-fi.

    The Walking Dead on AMC is based on a very popular comic of the same name. Comics are actually a medium known as sequential art, and with it you can tell any story you like. Here’s a link on wikipedia that goes into further detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequential_art

    Another great read about comics is Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, which discusses comic books as a medium. Here’s a wiki article about the book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding_Comics

    Concrete Park is more of sci-fi story like Blade Runner or Total Recall. The main character is dressed like that because I believe she is mixed, maybe South East Asian or Pacific Islander. The story is a commentary on the prison system and how it treats people of color. It’s not ghetto so much as tackling that type of subject matter it in a uniqueway.

    That is one of the great things about sci-fi is that it can become a metaphor for things that we are facing right now made relevant in a fantastic way.

    Give the series a chance you might really enjoy it’s commentary about race and class in America if you view the story as a metaphor for today.

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  3. Hi Everybody,

    I’m Tony Puryear, I’m Erika’s co-writer and (along with her brother, Rob) her co-creator on “Concrete Park.” I’ve enjoyed reading these comments and we are all very happy to have our book discussed in this space.

    I did want to clear a couple of things up to help the discussion along.

    First of all, though our book features several black leads, (and an Asian, and an alien, and…) our first cover character “Luca” is not one of them. She is of Pacific Islander heritage.

    Our book’s theme is exile and hope in a hopeless place. The young people in our story are the urban poor of a future, overpopulated Earth. They have been snatched from the streets of Rio, of Johannesburg, of Manila and Mumbai and yes, even Los Angeles. Sent to a far-off desert planet to mine for the resources Earth desperately needs, they are never going home. This situation mirrors that of the starving Irish poor of the 1840s and 1850s who were shipped halfway around the world to Australia.

    Once they finish their two-year sentence in the mines of this desert planet, ironically named Oasis, the young Earth exiles gravitate to the only city there, Scare City. Life in Scare City is short, rough and cheap. Nothing grows. Naturally, in the absence of order, people have grouped into gangs for protection. The gangs do what gangs do everywhere.

    What will these young exiles do? Will they just reproduce the violence, tribalism and hatred they left behind on Earth, or will they make something different? Will they make something beautiful?

    This is why Luca is on our first cover. She’s a gang leader AND a hero. The flower she wears in her hair is a symbol of that hope in a hopeless place I mentioned above, and even though it’s only plastic, it makes her feel pretty. In Scare City, that’s an act of bravery and defiance in itself.

    As black comics creators, Erika Rob and I are proud to have made a fictional world that features black characters and other people of color in new and, we hope, unexpected ways.

    I encourage all of you to check out Concrete Park in Dark Horse Presents in comics stores now, or to order it online at http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/20-283/Dark-Horse-Presents-14-Tony-Puryear-Cover

    Thanks,

    Tony Puryear

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    • Love the medium and love the concept. I’ll definitely be checking you guys out. If I still had my comic book store, I’d be pushing this hard.

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