SpeakEasy Blog

Seriously Questioning…Kwanza Osajyefo

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


Seriously Questioning…Torrey Maldonado

Torrey Maldonado is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Tight and Secret Saturdays. He is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised. His books reflect his students’ and his experiences. On September 17, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, No Sleep Till, alongside William Dalrymple, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Helen Phillips.… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Helen Phillips

Helen Phillips is the author of, most recently, the novel The Need. Her collection Some Possible Solutions received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the New York Public Library Young… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Trish Hall

Trish Hall is a writer and journalist who worked for the New York Times for more than two decades. She initially joined the paper as a food reporter and eventually oversaw all the feature sections as a member of the masthead. For almost five years, she served as the Op Ed editor. She expanded the… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…John Burnham Schwartz

John Burnham Schwartz is the author of five acclaimed novels, including The Commoner, Claire Marvel, Bicycle Days, Reservation Road, which was made into a motion picture based on his screenplay, and his new novel, The Red Daughter. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Darcey Steinke

Darcey Steinke is the author of the New York Times Notable memoir Easter Everywhere, as well as five novels. In 2017 Maggie Nelson wrote a foreword for a new edition of Suicide Blonde. With Rick Moody, she edited Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited. Her books have been translated into ten languages, and her nonfiction… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Darrell Bourque

Darrell Bourque is the former poet laureate of Louisiana and professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he held positions as the Director of Creative Writing, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Humanities program, and Head of the English Department. Darrell has served as the Friends of the Humanities Board of Regents… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Eloisa Amezcua

Eloisa Amezcua earned a BA in English from the University of San Diego, where she was the recipient of the Lindsey J. Cropper Award for Creative Writing in Poetry selected by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2014, she completed the MFA program at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She’s received fellowships & scholarships from the MacDowell Colony,… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize, for their book x/ex/exis, and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. From 2016-2018, they edited The Wanderer and Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets. They are also the… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Michael Bronski

Michael Bronski is an independent scholar, journalist, and writer who has been involved in social justice movements since the 1960s. He has been active in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, editor, publisher and theorist since 1969. He is the author of numerous books including the recently published A Queer History of the United… Continue Reading

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