You may not know that you are a comic book fan, but the box office begs to differ. This summer is already back-to-back action packed, superhero thrillers. “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel” and the upcoming “The Wolverine” will probably bring ticket sales that may reach just under $1 billion. On television, shows like “True Blood” and “The Walking Dead” are redefining the idea of what was previously considered a niche genre. There are also the franchises “Twilight” and “Hunger Games.”
Everybody is dipping into fantasy. And while the category explodes into the cultural norm, there is much to hope of the diversity of characters represented. After all, the classic titles of the genre, such as “Star Trek,” were incredibly optimistic about achieving a multi-ethnic society.
Clearly, the room for plural stories has not gone unnoticed. Erika Alexander, the actress best known for her roles on “The Cosby Show” and “Living Single” has partnered with her brother Robert Alexander and her acclaimed screenwriter husband Tony Puryear (“Eraser,” and the upcoming “Fahrenheit 451”) to co-create the comic series “Concrete Park.”
The story follows a group of Black and Latino teenagers from the roughest streets who have been exported from Earth, as it seems society can no longer deal with them. And left largely to their own devices, a story ensues that questions the nature of human beings, particularly those who have succumbed to the worst of human nature. “Concrete Park” is anchored around the stories of seven characters who reside in Scare City and are vying for power, survival, hope and of course, love.
Alexander and Puryear were inspired by what they have observed from the under-told stories to urban street culture. From a female gang leader uncertain of her love and her power, to a teenager given to the street who is living for the protection of his young sister, this is the story of people we know without often seeing. And where successful storytelling has come from “Boyz N The Hood” and “The Wire,” there is another element to participate in when street life is given to fantasy.
“The concept of outposts for outcasts is part of the history of humanity. You can look to the history of Australia…In the end, the question comes to what is going to become of these people? Are they going to reproduce hate and tribalism?” Puryear explains.
“Concrete Park” is very much a mix of the “Game of Thrones” and Hunger Games of urban culture. With four chapters released so far through “Dark Horse Comics Presents,” Puryear, who writes and draws the series, is building the story within the home of successful comic titles that include “300,” “Hellboy” and “Sin City.” But if you are not convinced that you can get into a comic book, consider it’s author’s influences.
Puryear cites Jack Kirby, co-creator of “The Fantastic Four;” science fiction novelist Octavia Butler; and one other iconic writer among those who inspire his work. “Toni Morrison. I love the way she writes…the emotion with which she writes. ‘Beloved’ is a book that has the magical realism of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. With ‘Beloved,’ she is taking ordinary life and making it magical.”
Try out your interest in comics by downloading a copy of “Concrete Park” on the website, and learn more about the characters, the story and the team that is proving the market for diverse stories in science fiction.
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