Sunday, January 07, 2018

Black and Native American Women in Westerns: Jessie & Bessie Are Outside


(Jessie and Bessie Are Outside comic: Written by Shawnee Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs, Art by Catharine and Sarah Satrun, Edited by Lauren Burke for LNA's "Sisters" Anthology)

When we were kids, there were three things that our grandmother, Jessie, loved watching on television—-which meant absolutely no one was allowed to ‘change the station.’ They were: Matlock, Murder She Wrote and Westerns.

And Westerns were her favorite.

If Granny was watching a ‘John Wayne picture,’ your hopes of getting any glimpses of Saturday morning cartoons were dashed.

It wasn’t until much later in life that we gained our own appreciation for the genre and why our grandmother loved it so much.

Growing up as one of twelve children in the rough-and-tumble states of Texas with her twin sister, Bessie, our grandmother was exposed to open landscapes, people who still rode horseback and carried guns, and lots and lots of badasses.



(The real life Jessie and Bessie circa the 1970s on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California)

It was in this spirit, that we wanted to honor the legacy of our grandmother and her fraternal twin sister, who would later pioneer our family to California, and re-imagine the Wild West from a female perspective.

There have been many stories told about the Wild West and though African American and Native women played significant roles as pioneers west of the Mississippi (see the story of Stagecoach Mary), few Westerns feature women of color as their heroines. Our maternal great-grandmother was believed to have Native American ancestry, so it was also our goal to give a nod to our family's indigenous heritage in our tale.



("Grandma Luci," Jessie and Bessie's fiesty fictional blind, gun-toting grandmother)

Writing the character of Jessie and Bessie’s grandmother, Grandma Luci was so much fun. We were inspired by members of The Osage tribe for her style and look.

Though this is a period piece, we wanted the characters of Jessie and Bessie to have a fresh quality and be relatable to contemporary young women. So though the story is set in pre-1940s America, we approached the design of their clothing and hairstyles, so they could almost exist in nearly any era.



(Character design of Jessie by Catharine and Sarah Satrun)



(Character design of Bessie by Catharine and Sarah Satrun)

Researching and creating the guns for the project was also a fun part of the process. Before the dawn of the 20th century, Gunmakers put so much painstaking effort into designing rifles and pistols like the 1816 Flintock Pistol and The Colt Percussion Revolver, that the gun's themselves were a work of art.



(Gun designs for the comic, "Jessie and Bessie are Outside" by Sarah and Catharine Satrun)

We got a chance to tell this story through Graham Cracker Comic’s amazing Ladies Night Comic’s Anthology. This marks our third story with this wonderful organization which supports and empowers women in comics. We were teamed with a PHENOMENAL twin-sister duo Catharine and Sarah Saturn (The Satrun Sisters) who beautifully rendered our comic script.

On this project we had twins sisters writing about twin sisters, drawn by twin sisters. It was a 'twinning' combination.

We also got a chance to team again with our fantastic editor, Lauren Burke, who is a wonderful comic book writer in her own right and co-host of the fabulous Bonnets at Dawn podast.



(A panel of art from the Western comic, "Jessie and Bessie Are Outside" written by Shawnee Gibbs & Shawnelle Gibbs, art by Catharine and Sarah Satrun)

The story “Jessie & Bessie Are Outside” is available now in The Ladies Night Anthology Vol. 5: Sisters. You can find a copy here!

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Talking Comics: The Gibbs Sisters Chat with Artists of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker Team

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker is an idea that has lived with us since 2011, and with the help of over 400 Kickstarter supporters last year, we are currently in the process of helping the multi-cultural steampunk comic take flight.



Along the road to making the E.J. Whitaker story, we have been thrilled to document the journey and chat with the artists who help bring the words of our comic book script to life.



Invention of E.J. Whitaker, writers, Shawnee´Gibbs & Shawnelle Gibbs

Please enjoy the below videos of our chats with Penciler, Mark Hernandez, Colorist, Hasani McIntosh and Cover and Short Story Artist, Earl Womack, as they share their approach to the art production process.


Penciler, Mark Hernandez


Rough Pencil Sketches of the Flying Machine by Mark Hernandez


Colorist, Hasani McIntosh


Cover and Short Story artist, Earl Womack

We thoroughly enjoy chatting and working with these guys and couldn't make the Invention of E.J. Whitaker possible without such a wonderful and dedicated team. We're really looking forward to debuting the comic later this year!

Our Chat with Mark Hernandez and Hasani McIntosh

Our Chat with Earl Womack

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Summer's Day in the Studio

This past weekend, Shawnelle and I and the talented photographer Sean Kennedy took some shots at our Downtown Office / Studio.

We're hard at work on our upcoming comic book series, "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker" with artists Mark Hernandez, Hasani McIntosh and Earl Womack.

Here's a few of the candid shots we captured this weekend:













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Friday, August 14, 2015

Fashion Forward: Issue #1 Debuts on Comixology!



Our very first issue of Fashion Forward is now available on Comixology!

Thanks so much for joining us on the journey to making FF a bonafide comic book series.

It would make Sam & Co. proud to have their stories live on via your tablets, phones and browser readers. Grab a copy today!

[Fashion Forward: Issue #1 on Comixology!]

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sneak Peek: Ancient Africa and China meet in our latest tale, "Tati"



(Page from short story, "Tati" written by Shawnee´ Gibbs & Shawnelle Gibbs, Art by JM Tolman)

There is something absolutely fascinating about ancient empires.

The people, the clothing, the architecture, the scenery, the bygone laws of governing and systems of order.

I'm sure everyone, at some point in their lives, has imagined themselves amidst the pyramids of ancient Egypt, exploring a hidden underground city, or as royalty in some for away civilization.

As writers, there's just something about bygone worlds that appeal to us, and we became particularly fascinated by an ancient African kingdom called Kush that existed in Sudan circa 1000 B.C to AD 350.



(Pyramids of Africa's Kush Kingdom)

We wondered about this little-known kingdom, which flourished along the Nile, alongside neighboring Egypt. Its ruins suggest a small empire that mirrored Egypt in its resources, beliefs and architecture.



(Art and artifacts of Sudan's Kush Empire)

Shawnelle and I are often so enamored with history and cultures that I'm sure one or both of us would've made pretty darn good archaeologists but alas, the artistic path beckoned. Yet the great thing about the arts is this: where else than in an actual archaeological dig site can you construct what ancient history might have looked like? Literature and comics helps us to bridge the gap between where ancient artifacts end and imagination begins.

As writers, Kush provides a treasure trove of ideas and the time period itself was ripe with other powerful and rising empires. At the same time in China, the Qin dynasty flourished under Qin Shi Huang, who commissioned the construction of the Great Wall of China, a remarkable architectural achievement which, like Africa's pyramids, has stood the test of time.

History often looks at people and cultures myopically, noting that this took place in this geographic region or that at this time period, without taking into consideration that people, the globe over, were constantly moving, in search of food and resources, or forced to migrate due to environmental occurrences like climate change and natural disasters.

This is a very large planet and our inquisitive ancestors were coming into contact with each other over the centuries; Through oceans, by foot, and on animals, they traveled this vast Earth taking with them pieces of themselves and sharing them with the world.



(Early character designs by JM Tolman)

We wondered what would happen if Tati, a small girl from the Kush Kingdom swept away by a magical tsunami, washed up at the neck of the Yellow River and onto the shores of Ancient China?

Interestingly enough, orphans tend to be a reoccurring theme in our work, partly because Shawnelle and I consider ourselves half orphan. So much like other themes including sci fi, nerdy female protagonists and twindom, it always finds a way of popping up.



We were lucky enough to have a pitch we wrote for Tati accepted by Graham Cracker Comic's Ladies Night Anthology's third volume, "How To Magic" (A Complete Guide). This is the third in a series of anthologies created by Chicago's famed GCC to promote independent women in comics.



We teamed again with the incomparable JM Tolman, the wonderful artist of our Fashion Forward Comic book series, and collaborated for the second year in a row with our fabulous editor, Lauren Burke, who oversaw our short comic, "Good Mourning, Jacob" for last year's volume.

To develop Tati's look, we researched photos of several North and East African tribes including the Dinka, the Omo, the Afar Tribe, the Hamar, Beja, Karrayyu and Toubou peoples. Here's just a sampling of some of the wonderful tribes who inspired us:



Photos of North and East African tribes)

The short story, "Tati" will be featured in the soon to be released Ladies Night Anthology (LNA's) "How to Magic" comic compilation, which you can find here!

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Comic Book Resources Reviews "Fashion Forward" for Month of African American Comics

Check out Comic Book Resource's review of our series "Fashion Forward" (Books 1 through 3) below!

Every February in honor of Black History Month, Comic Book Resource's Comics Should Be Good blog profiles African American comic creators and Shawnelle and I were recently featured for FF.



(Fashion Forward Books 1 - 3, Interior Art: Linda Chung, Covers: JM Tolman (Books 1 & 2) and Adam Fay (Book 3)

Writer Brian Cronin writes:

""The Gibbs sisters have come up with one charming comic book adventure here, with a compelling lead character, a great setting (the fashion world is nuts!) and a catchy (and wacky) premise. They use time travel to keep the story constantly fresh, as just when you think things are settled, the time travel throws things out of whack."


Reed more at Comic Book Resources:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2015/02/08/month-of-african-american-comics-fashion-forward-books-1-3/

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Friday, December 05, 2014

Comic Arts LA 2014 : A Celebration of Comics



This Saturday, December 6th, Shawnelle and I will be a part of the inaugural Comic Arts LA Festival.

We'll be at booth 34A with new Fashion Forward books.

Come by and check us out, along with some amazing LA comic book writers & artists!

CALA is organized by Jen Wang, Angie Wang, Iris Jong, and Jake Mumm.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Writing Is Rewarding - Ladies Night Edition

Sometimes writing can feel very isolating and challenging (even when you're doing it with your sister!). The actual process of it comes without the fun, accolades and community that say, hanging out on a Friday night with friends can bring.

And then there are times when the writing brings fun, accolades and community right to your doorstep. This fall, we've had it occur twice and are excited to share some snapshots from our recent writing escapades.

Lady Filmmaker's Film Festival, Beverly Hills - Script Finalist - PrePuptial Agreement





Shawnee and I were beyond honored to have our short screenplay, PrePuptial Agreement, reach the finals of this historic film festival and also be staged before a live audience. The play was directed by the legendary Romell Foster-Owens and features remarkable, new talents Ary Katz and Gladys Nyoth as the leads.

PrePuptial Agreement, a comedy centering around a newly dissolved couple struggling to come to an agreement about who keeps their Pomeranian, Chubb Rock, was so fun to write and watch come to life at the festival. Shout out to Shawnee's awesome guy, Taiwo Heard, for getting iPhone footage that can be seen HERE. Please enjoy.

Ladies Night Anthology Vol. 2: Death & Prom - Short Story - Good Mourning Jacob



In September, we were absolutely beside ourselves when our short story, Good Mourning, Jacob about a funeral singer and her biggest fan debuted in the second volume of LNA, published by Graham Cracker Comics based in Chicago. As many of you guys know, creating comics is becoming an increasing passion of ours and we are so fortunate that LNA put the resources in place for women like us to be heard. Learn more about the organization and feel free to purchase a copy for yourself HERE.

Love!
Nelle

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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: The Journey Begins



We are excited to release new artwork from our latest project, "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker," a steampunk adventure. Set in 1901, the story centers around Ada, a brilliant young inventor, who very quickly finds herself on a journey full of mystery, romance and danger when her latest invention begins to generate national attention. 



More details to come!



Written by: Shawnee´Gibbs & Shawnelle Gibbs


Art: Mark Hernandez

http://www.ejwhitaker.com

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Day in The Studio



Our friend, writer & photographer, Moe Reed, dropped by and took some working shots of us in our downtown studio.



(Process board from our new steampunk comic project)

In between our jobs as television producers and writers for the comic, Fashion Forward, Shawnelle and I have been developing an awesome project that we're excited to share in the coming days. We've written about it on the blog before >here< [Black Victorians: African Americans in Steampunk and Historical Fiction], and are now underway to see it fully realized for 2014.



(The Gibbs Sisters, Comic Book Writer / Creators | Left: Shawnelle Gibbs, right: Shawnee´Gibbs)

It is "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker," an African American, steampunk comic adventure set in 1901. Here are a few recent shots of us in the studio working on both E.J. and Fashion Forward.





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Saturday, January 04, 2014

On Making Webcomics with The Daily Dot



Happy 2014, Everyone!

Of course we aren't anywhere near experts on webcomics, but we had the wonderful opportunity to share some of the joys and challenges on embarking on producing comics online with Lisa Granshaw at The Daily Dot.

If you have the time, feel free to check out the feature which also includes insightful info from fellow creators J. Gray of Mysteries of the Arcana and Donogh McLaverty of A Lost Transmission.

Find it here:

Blood, sweat and ink: Breaking into webcomics in 2014

Hooray to new beginnings!

Nelle

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Celebrating The Life Of Nelson Mandela Through Animation



It saddened us to hear about the passing of Global Icon Nelson Mandela at 95 years young today, but we will be forever humbled that we got to celebrate his life while he was still with us through the creative mediums we love-- film and animation.

In 2010, our friend Rene Rawls' screenplay Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks was selected by The Tribeca Film Institute as one of five short film projects that honored Nelson Mandela Day by embodying Nelson Mandela's principles and life work.

Shawnee and I produced and directed the short and were absolutely thrilled with the final work that has since been shared with children and families across the globe. It can be seen in its entirety of 12 minutes HERE.



The goal of the Tribeca All Access Mandela Day Project was to spread the idea that--like Nelson Mandela-- individuals can indeed 'make an imprint' and change the world around them.

"“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” -- Nelson Mandela

RIP, Dear Sir.

--Nelle