Kwanza Osajyefo is the author and creator of BLACK, a comic that asks: what if only black people had superpowers. Kwanza has been a part of the comics for nearly 20 years. Beginning his career as an online producer at Marvel before moving into other media roles. He later returned to comics and launched DC Comics’ digital publishing initiatives. In addition to creating his own properties, Kwanza is also a creative architect of H1 Comics line from the premiere French publisher, Humanoids – co-writing their flagship title, Ignited with comics legend, Mark Waid.
On October 22nd, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, Into the Silence alongside Roxana Robinson, Caleb Scharf, and Nadine Strossen.
What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?
I started to read very early, to the disbelief of some relatives. The first comics I remember reading were Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, Walt Kelly’s Pogo and Power Pack.
Novels and books that I gravitated towards as a child were Where the Wild Things Are, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and books about Greek mythology. I think I read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths a hundred times.
I wrote my first comic when I was around three or four about astronomy. I used up a whole school notebook for it, and my mom had to get me another for class.
What is your favorite line from your current work?
Honestly, I tend to not favor my own work and am rather self-deprecating in that regard.
What is your favorite first line of a novel?
“Mr and Mrs Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just write. Even when you’re not compelled too. Don’t try to be perfect, that’s subjective and not possible to achieve. You’re writing for yourself and putting it out in the world where even it it were perfect, someone reading it may disagree.
What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?
Toni Morrison, she writes with empathy, understanding and conviction – I’d love to pick her brain.
What writer do you wish you could share with the world?
Shuzo Oshimi is one of my favorite mangaka. I don’t think enough people know him and his work, but it has a jarring gravitas to it that pulls you through his stories.
What are you reading right now?
My backlog is embarrassing but I am currently making my way through One A Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden.
What fictional character do you most closely identify with?
I suppose I’ve always felt a kinship with Charlie Brown. His persistence in the face of his anxieties and shortcomings are familiar. Also Ender Wiggin, because his journey and perspective reminded me a lot of how I felt as a child.
If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?
Star Trek, being a space explorer was always a dream of mine – maybe with less fighting Klingons.
Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Bansky