Archive for Previous Guests
Like the heroines of her novels, Leslie Esdaile Banks pulled off the impossible.
No she didn’t hunt down vampires, find Prince Charming, or solve the murder. She did something MUCH harder – she successfully lived the writer’s life.
She used her magical gift for storytelling to transform the mundane details of life into gripping epics, whether the tale was a romance, crime thriller, supernatural odyssey, or family drama.
The result was an opus of more than 40 novels and 12 novellas that landed Esdaile among the rarefied ranks of authors on the New York Times and USA Today best-selling lists. Her work also earned her the
- 2009 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention Career Achievement Award for Paranormal Fiction
- 2008 Essence Magazine Storyteller of the Year Award
- 2008 Best 50 Women in Business Award for the State of Pennsylvania
Prior to the debut of HBO’s wildly popular True Blood series, the prestigious cable powerhouse featured her on its Vampire Literature and Legends special.
Her publishers have included St. Martin’s Press, Simon and Schuster, Harlequin, BET/Arabesque, Dark Horse Press, Genesis Press, Parker Publishing, Harper and Tor.
Leslie’s imagination knew no boundaries. As a writer of multiple genres, Leslie wrote fiction under several pen names. She penned her first novel, a romance titled Sundance, in 1996 under the name of Leslie Esdaile. As Leslie E. Banks she wrote two novelizations of the TV series Soul Food. As Leslie Esdaile Banks, she wrote a four-novel crime series featuring financial genius Laura Caldwell for Kensington/Dafina Press.
She perhaps made her biggest splash with her paranormal narratives published under the name of L.A. Banks. Her 12-novel vampire huntress series, The Vampire Huntress Legends ( first novel, Minion ), gave the darkness a new flavor and continued on in a multi-issue graphic novel series called Hidden Darkness. She published a six-novel werewolf series, A Crimson Moon ( first novel, Bad Blood ), which she wrote under the name of L.A. Banks.
Leslie had also ventured into the best selling young adult market this year with her Neteru Academy series ( first novel, Shadow Walker ). She has also written non-fiction, including an autobiographical contribution to the inspirational anthology Chicken Soup for the African American Soul. Through Red Rose Publishing Leslie’s work is available in ebook format.
Leslie’s own story began on Dec. 11, 1959 in Philadelphia, PA, where she was born. She earned a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking degree from Temple University. Her fierce spirit as a single mother wrestling with the issues of health insurance for herself and her daughter brought her to the attention of the White House. As a result of her passionately written letter supporting the President’s efforts to reform the nation’s health insurance system, she was tapped to introduce President Barack Obama during a 2010 speech at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.
Although her journey in THIS realm ended on Aug. 2, 2011, it’s comforting to know that she’s only just taken her first step as one of the immortals.
Born Dwayne Glenn McDuffie in 1962 and raised in the city of Detroit, Michigan, his education began at the Roeper School. McDuffie chose the University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies from which he received a bachelor’s degree in English. Eventually, he went on to receive a Master’s in Physics. Continuing his schooling and creative interests, McDuffie studied film at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts. He became a radio co-host while simultaneously moonlighting as a freelance writer for stand-up comedians. Some of his scripts made it to late-night television comedy programs.
After an early job as a copy editor at Investment Dealer’s Digest, a business magazine, McDuffie landed a position at Marvel Comics in 1987 as an assistant editor. While working for Marvel, McDuffie helped to create Marvel’s first trading cards and eventually the mini-series entitled Damage Control. McDuffie then went on to write stories for various titles like: Spider-Man, Deathlok II, Captain Marvel, Avengers Spotlight, Hellraiser, X-O Manowar, and others. McDuffie also submitted a spoof proposal for something he called “Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers.” It was said that this was McDuffie’s response to Marvel’s portrayal and treatment of Black comic book characters. McDuffie tried his hand at writing for other comic book companies as a freelancer: DC Comics, Archie Comics and Harvey Comics.
It was in 1993 that McDuffie’s interest in changing the portrayal of Black heroes and multicultural characters began to take shape. He along with partners Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle created Milestone Media, Inc., which was published through DC Comics. Popular Milestone characters included: Icon, Static, Hardware, Xombi, Shadow Cabinet, Blood Syndicate, and Kobalt. Milestone would become the foremost comic book company which created quality African-American and ethnic heroes. Static, a character McDuffie co-created became a popular animated series on the Kids WB! McDuffie not only wrote for that program, he also went on to write for other television shows including: Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the Cartoon Network animated series, What’s New Scooby Doo?, the Teen Titans, Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. McDuffie penned the script for the DC animated feature film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and All-Star Superman for Warner Home Video.
McDuffie is the recipient of a Writer’s Guild Award, a 2003 Humanities Prize, two Emmy Nominations, eleven Parents’ Choice Awards, three Eisner Awards, a Golden Apple Award and a Glyph Comics Award. He was an example not only to comic book loyalists and science fiction fans, but also to comic book creators, professionals, artists and writers of what the combination of purpose, talent and hard work can produce. His work was and is revered as having a standard of quality, in which excellence of craft and an unmistakable flavor that was just “Dwayne” came together for our benefit. He was able to take the reader and the audience on rides that were new, wild and adventurous yet authentic, real and respectful. He represented the best in quality and professionalism. He entertained us all and will continue to do so for many, many years to come. The examples on this page are only a sampling of the works of Dwayne McDuffie. He was a creator, an author, a shaper and producer of ideas, and most of all a creative mind, a brilliant and humble soul. His work was his gift to us. Our memory and reverence of his efforts are our gift to him. We urge that you collect, hold dear, rediscover, value and reintroduce yourselves to the works of Mr. Dwayne G. McDuffie. And, after you come down from the ride, simply say: “Thank you, Dwayne!”
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Ray Billingsley: An Inspired Cartoonist
Mr. Ray Billingsley created the comic strip Curtis, which is distributed by King Features Syndicate and printed in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.
Mr. Billingsley was born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and raised there in his earliest years. Later, his family moved to Harlem, New York. He contributed early cartoons to Kids, a magazine “by kids for kids” published in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then in New York City from 1970 to 1975 under the co-editorship of Ms. Jenette Kahn, future president and editor-in-chief of MAD Magazine and DC Comics. Those intricately detailed drawings already showed a cartoonist in the making. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he attended the School of Visual Arts on a four-year scholarship. After graduating, he began an internship at Walt Disney Studios in 1979.
Mr. Billingsley drew a nationally syndicated strip called Lookin’ Fine from 1979 to 1982. By 1988, he was freelancing in advertising and public relations; doing television commercials, posters and animation; and working for magazines such as Ebony. In October of that year, King Features Syndicate introduced Curtis. Mr. Billingsley states that the inspiration for Curtis came to him in the wee hours of the morning. “It was 3:30 or 4:00,” he said. “I didn’t even turn on a light. I just sketched a little boy, and the next morning, there he was: Curtis.” He credits sibling rivalry with sparking his initial fascination with cartooning. As a young boy, he learned to draw in order to emulate his older brother, who studied fine arts.
Mr. Billingsley acknowledges that Wee Pals creator Mr. Morrie Turner, the first Black cartoonist in national syndication, opened the door for Curtis and other strips. He also credits Mr. Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, for encouraging him to stretch out artistically. “[Eisner] always told me to reach out and do more than I thought I could. I continually draw strength when I relive his teachings,” Mr. Billingsley said.
Since 1987, Reggie Byers has created, written and illustrated comic books professionally. He got his first break penciling ROBOTECH comic books for Comico. The comics were the American licensed comics basedon the popular Japanese anime, “MACROSS.” He illustrated ROBOTECH for 2 years. After Comico, he self published a variety of comic books which includes: SHURIKEN, about a female ninja, “JAM QUACKY THE HIP-HOP DUCK” and currently, “KIDZ OF THE KING”, which he produces with his wife of 20 years, Dionne.
Founded on the Bible scripture, Galatians 3:26, KIDZ OF THE KING is a Christian comic book that teaches its readers how to live their lives according to the Bible and is currently published by UMI Inc out of Chicago, Illinois.
In 2006, Ten Talents Productions was granted the license to produce “Kidz” as an animated series on DVD, which debuted in October 2008. Reggie and his wife look forward to growing this “comic book ministry” to the level where children all over the world will desire to be “Kidz of the King.” Reggie also facilitates “Kidz of the King Youth workshops”, speaks and preaches at Churches nationwide for youth services and special ministry events.
Mshindo Kuumba I. is mostly well known for his enduring attention to detail and the “Afro-centric” look to his work. “Africa being so instrumental in civilizing the world, I found it peculiar that a strong positive image of Africans is largely absent from contemporary media. Since my youth I wanted to build a career addressing this discrepancy.”
Born in 1964, Mshindo, largely a self developed talent, moved through his early years developing each aspect of his art one skill at a time. “I was fascinated by art that looked realistic and photo realism.” Studying one aspect of the process at a time allowed Mshindo to develop strong foundation skills that would become the hallmark of “The Mshindo I. look”.
Moving from pencil techniques to ink, color pencil and airbrush in that fashion allowed for lengthy study with each technique. Some of the early influences were: his Father, older brother, Mike Bonum (the after school teacher who he did his first painting with), Frank Frazetta, Amsel, Keith Pollard, Neal Adams and many others whose names were not known… just the fantastic lessons in their work.
After high school and a three year infantry medic stint, Mshindo ventured out into the world as a freelance artist selling tee shirts with a newly acquired airbrush at a flee market while living on Oahu Hawaii. It is here he met a Rastafarian named Bongo I Fareed who would change his entire life! He was the true African influence that not only taught Mshindo to be an entrepreneur, he lead him to the waters of African culture which Mshindo drank freely from. He stressed the need for self knowledge, self education and the truth of the Africans place in the world historic view.
Returning to the states in 1985 Mshindo continued to vend and grow a reputation for being a “true artist.” He began to attract clients like The Salvation Army, The NYC Fire and Police Dept., McDonalds, and the V.I.M. store chain. Celebrities and educators were also apart of this long list such as: Bobby Brown, Vertical Hold (including Angie Stone), Arrow, Mathew St. Patrick, John Henrik Clarke, Leonard Jefferies, Queen Afua and Baba Heru. Mshindo’s talents were also noticed by comic companies like; A & B, Ania, Brainstorm, Continuity, Defiant, Valiant, Broadway, Crusade, Kevlar, Amara and DC comics.
Currently Mshindo is honing his digital skills to complete yet another learning cycle in his over 20yr. experience. He is working on self publishing and reproductions of his astonishing work. Please visit www.mshindoiart.com to see more work from this bright star of the artistic universe.
Philadelphia native Eric Battle is a highly sought after artist with an extensive portfolio of illustration work, from children’s books to horror novels.
Most notably, the artist has worked with both DC and Marvel Comics, creating pencils for Spiderman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern, among others.
Battle has appeared as a panelist at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, on WHAT 1340 AM, and been interviewed by Hard Knock Radio, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Black America Web. http://marvel.wikia.com/Eric_Battle/Penciler
William H. Foster III is presently a Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Professor Foster has a BA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, and a Masters degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
A long-time comic book collector and researcher, Professor Foster has been an expert commentator for both CNN News and National Public Radio. He was a consultant on the historical image of Blacks in both comic strips and comic books for the Words and Pictures Museum of Fine Sequential Art in Northampton, MA. He was also a consultant to the 2004 exhibit,“ Heroes, Heartthrobs, and Horrors: Celebrating Connecticut’s Invention of the American Comic Book” presented by the Connecticut Historical Society. He also has presented his research at the 2001 bi-annual conference of The International Association for Media and History in Leipzig, Germany and at the 2002 Conference on Analyzing Series & Serial Narrative at John Moores University in Liverpool, England. He is the author of “Looking for a Face like Mine” published in 2005 by Fine Tooth Press. In 2007 he was also an invited speaker to the International Symposium on Langston Hughes at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China.
Photo taken by Marc Manley
The Glyph Comics Awards Committee is proud to announce that Jamar Nicholas will return to host this year’s awards ceremony at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in Philadelphia.
Nicholas, a Philly native, is best known for his hip hop comic strip Detective Boogaloo, as well as his autobiographical series The Jamar Chronicles. In 2007 he hosted the Awards for the first time, delighting the audience with his unique brand of humor while serving as emcee of the evening’s entertainment, which also included performances by spoken word/rap artists Grayson Board, Randy Moore, and Brother G.
“I’m very excited about having the opportunity to host the 2008 Glyph awards, and am honored to be asked,” says Nicholas. “I had a great time hosting last year’s awards, and to have it take place in such a historic institution as the African American Museum makes it even greater.”
“We really couldn’t ask for a better host,” says Committee Chair Rich Watson. “Jamar’s local, he’s a cartoonist himself, and he’s funnier than anybody hosting this thing has a right to be, so we hope to have him as our go-to guy for a long, long time.”
The Awards ceremony is free and open to the public and will be held at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the night before the full day of the ECBACC convention, which will be held the next day, , at Temple University’s Anderson Hall.
The Committee also wishes to remind everyone that the poll for the Fan Award remains open until http://ecbacc.com/wordpress/?page_id=76) and vote for your favorite black comic from 2007.. Everyone is encouraged to head over to the ECBACC website (
Sign up for Jamar’s mailing list and find out more about his work at http://www.sweatshoppress.com/.