I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of gifted Black people in my Black Influencer Facebook group. One of those people happens to be the talented David Gorden, a published graphic novelist, who was kind enough to send me a copy of his comic, Kwame Hightower and the Man with No Name. After reading it I was eager to learn more about David’s creative process. So we had a discussion
Twelve year old Kwame is struggling to fit in at his new home in the UK after his mom’s new job leads the family of two there, putting a strain on their relationship.
After a big argument, Kwame’s mother takes him on a trip to Buckingham Palace to learn more about Britain’s culture. But the field trip is cut short when a gang of high profile criminals hold Kwame’s tour group captive beneath the palace, while trying to extract the Excalibur sword hidden there. When the thugs make the mistake of attacking Kwame’s mother, he pulls the Excalibur from the stone to fight back. From there, Kwame’s life is a non-stop action packed whirlwind, and we are along for the ride.
1. Tell me about yourself and how you started drawing comics
I was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri. I was a huge Godzilla fan and my first comic ever was a giant Star Wars #1 that my father got me to make up for not being able to take me to see the movie. I’ve been creating comics since I was a kid back in the early eighties. I started out drawing comic strips, but wanted to do longer form stories so the graduation to comic books was inevitable.
2. How did the idea for Kwame Hightower come about?
The original idea for Kwame was that the series would have a challenge based aspect like Pokemon or the chunin exams in Naruto. The problem was it was like fitting a square peg in a round hole. The idea wasn’t working, but the character was. One day, while thinking up story lines for the original concept, I had the idea to do a story about Excalibur. That story stuck with me and I realized that’s what the series should be.
3. The magic system in Kwame Hightower is explained as actually being science. What made you interpret it this way?
The spark for the science based system came from an episode of Dr. Who where the doctor dismisses a villain’s claim of using magic and and exposes them for using a scientific device. I also wanted to give the series its own identity to set it apart fromother fantasy series’. I really liked the unique sci-fi element the series took on. Plus I’m a huge sci-fi head!
4. What was the process of writing Kwame like?
I wrote the original outline and script in 2015 and began drawing the book on Thanksgiving weekend in 2016. During the drawing process, I spotted a number of issues and changes I wanted to make. So I would re-write the chapters as needed. I would take parts I liked from the original script and merge them with the new and improved ideas. It was a constant building and re-building process until I was happy.
5. Throughout the story there are many depictions of family dynamics. What role does family play in Kwame?
The family is going to be /kwame’s greatest source of strength. We are always told how important family is within our community, but I don’t thin it’s ever show in this format. The lessons Kwame has been taught by his mother and father are what will get him through the long road I have planned out for him. Family is extremely important in the series.
6. What projects do you have coming up?
Well, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag, I’ve already begun working on the next Kwame Hightower graphic novel: Kwame Hightower and the Exiles of Kalatheaa. I am also working on another series, Quantum University, a sci-fi/adventure series set on the campus of an HBCU. I plan on making this a web comic series.
7. What advice do you have for aspiring cartoonists?
The best advice I can give young artists…create. Create and put out. Focus on your craft, become the best you can be and don’t stop.
8. Where can people buy the Kwame Hightower comics/support you?
Kwame Hightower and the Man with No Name is available on Amazon in both Kindle and print. Or you can always see if I’ll be visiting your town for a convention or a book signing and pay me a visit! I love meeting people and talking!
Kwame Hightower and the Man with No Name is a fun story with memorable characters, a lovable hero, and a unique premise.