Erika Alexander Co-Writes Graphic with Black Heroine

by Stacia L. Brown

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? 

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Noooooo!!! I am NOT a comic enthusiast. But, I STAN for Erika Alexander, Maxine Shaw, Attorney at Law!!!

    So happppppppppppy for her!!! Since, it’s her, YES I will give it a try!!! She doing the damn thang!!!!!!

    Sidenote: I honestly abuse exclamation marks.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    I am curious to see it, sounds good.

  • Candy 1

    I’ll check it out.

  • grateful

    “Sidenote: I honestly abuse exclamation marks”

    must be an African thing…

    *wink-wink*

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Sounds like a ghetto comic series. It will probably end-up on BET.

  • http://chunkynappyfunky.wordpress.com/ Ms. Information

    Yep, one of my best friends David Atchison developed the OCT with Rosario…check it out..

  • Genuinesol

    @Val: I am a comic book enthusiast and trust me this comic looks no different from Wolverine; The Punisher; Daredevil; and even the Black Panther. The main difference is that the aforementioned characters that I cited have glamorous costumes and more outlandish villains and superpowers. Other than that, the synopsis for many comics is that humanity or some municipality is threatened by gangs or mobsters and the protagonist is out to stop them. What makes it look ghetto, as sad as it may be to admit, is that it is a black woman on the cover and unfortunately, many will perceive in the same vain.

    If I had the extra cash to spare, I would definitely give it a try.

  • Genuinesol

    Let me clarify my post after just reading it myself. I do not think a black woman on the cover makes the series appear “ghetto” because as far as I am concerned what constitutes “ghetto” behavior covers all economic, religious, racial, and social lines. What I meant is that many people in society, especially in the white male dominated comic book industry, may perceive the comic as being ghetto because a black female character who appears to be scrappy is on the cover. It is hard enough for female characters to get their own series and that difficulty increases when it is a non-white female. Hope I did not offend anyone.

  • http://gravatar.com/stardancer2008 Tameko P

    I’m a comic geek and I am totally in! I collect comics with characters of color, so this one will be right up my alley.

  • AllisonMG

    I like comics and I love stories/films with lead heroines! I’ll definitely check it out.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    I’m not looking at her being Black, I’m looking at how she’s dressed on the cover. Why is she dressed like that? And since it is a comic, why doesn’t she get a costume?

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    My comment is to Genuinesol.

  • http://gravatar.com/ohyeaohyea Meme

    Why can’t the heroine be in a relationship w/ a brother? Oh, well-and least this takes some small step towards more representation for Black women in comics.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    @Stacia

    Why are the comments closed on your post; “San Diego Magazine Publishes Racially Offensive Cover”? And why were comments deleted from that thread? What’s going on?

  • Genuinesol

    @Val: Honestly, it depends on what feel and atmosphere the author is trying to establish. For example, Luke Cage is a very popular Marvel Comics character and at times he does not wear a uniform. It all varies.

    I do agree with you though that her apparel could have been more tasteful and appealing. It also would have been nice if they gave the synopsis a little more depth to make it more appealing. Instead of just saying she lives in a futuristic world that is threatened by gang violence they could have stated she is from the futuristic city of (insert name) and when the future of everything is threatened (insert the protagonist’s name here) springs into action but her dangers are many.

    Forgive me for omitting the quotation marks and commas but I am feeling lazy right now.

  • Apple

    I wanna know too

  • Nobody Not Really

    This site seems to attract the worst of the worst who spew their hate all over the comment section. On an article like that, I am sure the usual hateful people showed up, so they [probably] had to close the comment section and delete comments.

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  • Golden Silence

    Do you have an issue with the character being a lesbian? Why does it matter?

  • justanotheropinion

    Maxine Shaw, Attorney At Law! Bringing it back old school – if only they still made them like this….

  • http://stacialbrown.com Stacia L. Brown

    I honestly don’t know. Writers don’t moderate comments.

  • http://stacialbrown.com Stacia L. Brown

    (Unless they also serve as editors.)

  • http://gravatar.com/honeybfly1980 Isis

    Sounds cool

  • http://sidehustlestories.net City Athena

    Excited about this. We need more black female comic book characters… Michonne (Walking Dead), Storm, and Idie (X-Men) can’t be the only ones. Also cool to see “Maxine” back and working with her husband in a creative project

  • http://www.jessicasimien.com Jessica

    Not into comics, but this seems interesting.

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  • 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.

  • http://concretepark.wordpress.com tonypuryear

    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

  • Prov

    It’s not that she “can’t,” she simply isn’t. She doesn’t have to be heterosexual.

  • Ravi

    There are a few more than that. For example: Amanda Waller, Bumblebee, Vixen, Pantha, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce, Angel Salvadore, Bling, Black Panther (his sister took over the mantle), Monica Rambeau, Cargill, Heather Hudson (exiles), venus dee milo, Cecilia Reyes, Misty Knight, etc.

    And that’s just the ones I know from Marvel and DC. but there always needs to be more

  • Ravi

    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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  • http://www.thoomcast.blogspot.com THOOM

    No the “ghetto” part are the automatic weapons in both hands and the gang warfare theme. And besides the garish costumes, Black Panther has a decidedly different tone.

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