BLACK COTTON, ISSUE #1
Writer: Brian Hawkins & Patrick Foreman
Illustrator: Marco Perugini
Publisher: Scout Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A pensive family saga about a wealthy Black family, their police officer son, and a mistake that threatens the prestige of their wealthy enterprise. This speculative fiction comic is set in an alternate reality where white people are the minorities and racial inequities are reversed.
Swap the races of the police officer versus the shooting victim in The Hate U Give and the secretive family in Get Out, and you'll have a good feel for the story within.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In an alternate version of reality, white individuals are subjugated to racism and implicit bias as minorities. When Black police officer Zion Cotton, son of the billionaire Cotton family, shoots an unarmed white woman, his family scrambles to save face.
Patriarch and CEO of Black Cotton Ventures Elijah Cotton struggles to remove the racist blemish on his long-standing empire. Meanwhile, his daughter Qia is left to mediate between her brother Zion, the public, and their outraged parents.
Will the family overcome their now-tainted reputation? And how will the public backlash and cries of discrimination affect the family's response to the incident?
Writers Brian Hawkins and Patrick Foreman flawlessly create a flipped social order that feels exquisitely original, yet societally familiar.
Marco Perugini uses gentle shading on characters' faces. The effect creates an ambiguous racial quality to supplement the narrative's thematic framework.
Perugini implements a grayscale color palette, functioning as a key component in removing implicit bias while reading a story about race.
Letterer Francisco Zamora sparsely bolds essential words that quietly demand your attention in thematically crucial moments.
Wrapping your mind around the skewed racial representations makes you focus on the off-kilter reality of the setting and dialogue. This brilliant racial reversal emphasizes exactly what Black Cotton wants you to understand: Police brutality, racism, and injustice exist in any society with minorities and supremacy.
Each word of dialogue is meaningful. All conversations between the Cottons reflect socially relevant commentary about racial and economic inequity, racial supremacy, and privilege.
Perguini employs artistic minimalism that conveys drama. This artistic style removes colorism in this alternate world, enhancing the narrative concept that unrest and division are outcomes in any discriminatory society.
Because of the unpretentious art, Zamora's striking lettering and spatial awareness are paramount. His lettering allows the dialogue to consistently gel together.
Bold, dark words in protest panels construct a visual dichotomy between the crudely drawn faces in a crowd and the signs proclaiming injustice. The conceit works to depict how rallying words uplift the dead in order to prevent them from becoming just another victim of police brutality – or another face in a crowd of deceased bodies.
Hawkins and Foreman elicit an emotional response in this parallel world that forces personal introspection.
There's a structure to the Cottons' "privileged" world of wealth, and it's scintillating to watch that structure upended by the unfortunately prevalent issue of systemic racism.
Each of the Cottons are eclectic characters. Their lives intermingle in various ways and I am excited to see how their story unfolds.
Name meanings are particularly evident in Black Cotton. "Black" and "Cotton" have obvious implications. All the characters possess names with definitions/connotations central to their character development. Researching these names generates more insight into this already layered narrative.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Topics like police brutality and racism will definitely affect or even trigger some readers. This comic features a racially reversed world, but seeing signs that say "White Lives Matter," could possibly conjure intense feelings.
On a few panels, the art can appear nearly too crude. It works wonderfully in most scenes, but some panels feel slightly underdeveloped.
The Cottons use the mantra "Black Cotton" with one another that might go over your head when it first appears due to lack of context.
Xavier Cotton is given no dialogue in this first issue, which gives his character a sense of underdevelopment considering he's the only Cotton family member who doesn't speak.
The speech bubbles and panel work on Page 6 specifically come off as slightly overcrowded.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Black Cotton is topical and timely in a world so bogged down by economic disparity and abhorrent racism. Hawkins and Foreman turn society on its head in this comic to deconstruct the racially-charged narrative and murders we hear about too often in the news. Viewing racism through the lens of an alternate reality is jarring and enlightening.
From the horrendous shooting on the first page to the conversations about implicit bias and racial hegemony, Black Cotton #1 urges a real-world dialogue about these systematic issues. A world rendered in purely greyscale tones anchors the reader to the dialogue's stark implications.
Basic human rights are a tenet of what it means to exist as a human. Black Cotton #1 utilizes the comic medium to continue an unfettered conversation about race through an innovative narrative and elegant illustrations. If you're looking for a story that examines weighty race-related themes in an astute, propulsive, and challenging way, you'll certainly want to read this thought-provoking comic.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Devil's Dominion by Brian Hawkins, Sara Ianniello & Raffaele Forte
Killadelphia by Rodney Barnes & Jason Shawn Alexander
Black by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith, & Jamal Igle
If you like the art:
Transmissions by Neil Gibson & Marco Perugini
Rammur #1 by Charles Santino, Marco Perugini, Carlos Aon, Dave Bardin, Matt Chic, & Paulo Peres
Stake by David A. Byrne & Francesca Rodriguez
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Brian Hawkins – Writer (@BrianLHawkins)
Multitalented: He is a comics writer, freelance writer, tech/proposal writer, editor, screenwriter, and educator.
He works as an assistant editor for Mad Cave Studios and wrote the recently released comic Devil's Dominion for Blackbox Comics.
Currently promoting his upcoming comic Dragon Fly on Kickstarter, which deserves support!
Patrick Foreman – Writer (@PatrickDForeman)
Multitalented: He is a writer, the COO of Returning Citizens & Positude Magazine, and a musician.
Music Lover: He was the Christian Artist 2020 IMA Winner.
Hails from Virginia and is a retired Marine.
Marco Perugini – Illustrator (@marcoperugini78)
An artist, illustrator of comics and skilled in motion graphic + animation 2D/3D artistry.
Has been commissioned by companies like Fox and BlogTV for motion graphic/animation design.
Illustrated the comic trade, Transmissions Vol.1.
Francisco Zamora – Letterer (@FranZamoraGuion)
Multitalented: Works as both a comic book letterer and writer and is part of Nimbus Studio and Unparalleled Comics.
Dream Team: Lettered writer Brian Hawkins' Kickstarter comic, Dragon Fly.
Outlander: Hails from Mar del Plata, Argentina.
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Black Cotton characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED