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Get Shooked Part Two: John Jennings

 February 9, 2023 at 11:54 PM PST

EPISODE 227: Get Shooked Part 2 with John Jennings

TRT 29:35

 

John Jennings just made Black History Month better.

 

JOHN JENNINGS I've created a brand new black superhero for marvel. That's what it is.

 

Get ready to talk about cosmic superheroes, crowdfunding a horror anthology, and celebrating comics.

 

Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (drums)

 

BETH ACCOMANDO Welcome back to listener supported KPBS Cinema Junkie, I'm Beth Accomando.

 

Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (Horns)

 

BETH ACCOMANDO John Jennings has been a guest on Cinema Junkie multiple times. We’ve discussed ethnogothic horror, dissected Jordan Peele’s Us and unpacked the contents of Candyman. I love talking about horror with him and am excited about his upcoming horror anthology called Shook. Jennings is a Hugo Winner, Eisner winner, NYTimes Bestselling Author, Curator, Graphic Novelist, Editor, Professor, Scholar and Design Theorist. I get exhausted just looking at all he’s doing on his Instagram feed. He will be appearing on a panel about horror at Black Comix Day in San Diego on February 12 so I’m using that as an excuse to chat with him once again.

 

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John Jennings is professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is also the director of Abrams ComicArts imprint Megascope, which publishes graphic novels focused on the experiences of people of color. For his recent five-part mini series Silver Surfer Ghost Light, he drew on an old Marvel comics character.

JOHN JENNINGS His original name is Dr. Al B. Harper. He was created by Stan Lee and Sal Buscema and appeared in 1969 in a Silver Surfer story. Basically what happens is, you know, Al B. Harper saves the world. He he gives his life to save the planet. And Silver Surfer is enamored by this and so humbled by this, he actually buries him, and he puts this cosmic flame on his grave to burn eternally, to mark him as a hero. And throughout the Silver Surfers, like, ten years as a superhero in Marvel Comics, he often flashes back to this as a turning point in how he feels about the human race, right? And I was going through this and X Marvel, I was like, well, this is a cosmic flame on his grave if you know anything about comics. And the Fantastic Four got their powers from cosmic radiation, right? I was like, this seems like an origin story to me. Why can't we bring this guy back? And so they said, yes. And so I concocted this wild story about Dr. Al B. Harper, and I brought him back as a black superhero, as a superhero called Ghost Light. And of course, the term ghost Light comes from the theater. So a lot of theaters during the COVID during the pandemic were shut down. People weren't going to school, and so they would leave the ghost lights on. The Ghost Light is left to show that the show is going to come back, that the show will go on. I thought it'd be a great name for a new superhero.

BETH ACCOMANDO I remember having the hardest time explaining things about Silver Surfer to my young son. It's, like, really sad and existential.

 

JOHN JENNINGS He's a very Shakespearean Hamlet because he gives up his whole planet and he becomes a herald for this giant being that eats planets and called Galactus, and then he decides that no more. So he basically helps Earth not be eaten by this giant godlike creature, and in doing so is imprisoned on the planet for many years. He's basically can't leave Galactic. Oh, you like these people. Just stay with him. So he's kind of goes from being enslaved, being a prisoner, and I think because of that, a lot of black folk really kind of projected onto that character because you talk to a lot of black men, they really like the Silver Surfer. I think characters like the Hulk or Beast or like Nightcrawler also get that as far as, like, the projection of a type of blackness onto their bodies because they are other than a particular one very visually, or they're outcast or society, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah.

BETH ACCOMANDO Well, that also seems to be part of the attraction with horror, because so much of horror deals with this sense of the other, either being afraid of the other or identifying with the other.

JOHN JENNINGS That's right. And there's a consumption of the other body that very much the technology of Monstrosity is very connected to that idea, the consumption of these other bodies. There's a desire and a repulsion simultaneously.

Ghost Light is available now with issue two arriving next month. I need to take one quick break and then I will be back with the rest of my interview with John Jennings.

 

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BETH ACCOMANDO Welcome back to Cinema Junkie. As with Rodney Barnes, Jennings is a multi-hyphenate creator. Jennings, Barnes and Kevin Grevioux will all be appearing on a panel called "Get Shooked! The New Masters of Horror" at this year’s Black Comix Day. The panel takes its name from the upcoming crowdfunded horror anthology called Shook in which all three will have stories. I asked Jennings about the origins for Shook.

 

JOHN JENNINGS Shook is an anthology of horror very much influenced by old school, like EC Comics, just a little bit of background at EC Comics sense of educational comics. It was the company that was created by William Gaines or one by William Gaines Comics. I guess he was well, I mean, he's kind of a comics pioneer, but his father was as well. He's one of the founding fathers of DC Comics. Actually, what they used to do is they would do these morality tales but put them in the form of horror comics. So a lot of times they'd have like these very short, really kind of over the top, gory morality tales with a high ending at the end. So if you've ever seen like Tales in the Crypt or ever heard of Baltimorer or these types of things, then you're looking at what some of the inspirations for and of course some of the other inspirations, of course are Warren Magazines comics that they did back in the so creepy and eerie magazine. Essentially it's like the set up is like stories about morality that usually have interlocutor like a narrator or something, right? So all of us grew up reading this type of stuff and being interested in this kind of stuff.

JOHN JENNINGS

I was approached by Bradley Golden and Marcus Flowers to participate in this. They wanted to do a black horror anthology. And I had always wanted to do something called Shook because that was a great title for something. And I had done a show actually in Atlanta called Shook. It's just like it's something I want to do for I want to do it as a horror magazine, but who has the time to do that? And so I don't actually. So teaming up with someone else seemed like the best thing to do. And so we decided to call it shook Black Horror Anthology. And before you know it, we had a bunch of pretty high power African men who were interested in the same thing. Of course, as soon as I came on the project, there were other people already interested, like Kevin Grievous, David Walker, I think it already signed up. And the first thing I noticed was there were no women involved with the project. What is going on, dude? So the follow up project will be all women. Actually, just so you know. We were cognizant of that anyway. But it's a collection of scary stories by people of color, by black men in this particular case.

BETH ACCOMANDO

What is the appeal of horror for you? What do you feel that that genre allows you to do that maybe you can't do elsewhere or that connects with audiences in different ways?

JOHN JENNINGS

Well, I think some of the first stories that we ever hear are scary stories. Even if you think about stuff like mythology and folk tales that were told around a campfire, a lot of them are morality tales like, oh, the headless goat will get you if you do these things. You need to brush your teeth or the spiny periwinkle. It's all like parents would do this kind of stuff to kids, get the hell out of them like Boogie Mans and the Elka Kui and all these different things. They use them to actually think about what's right and what's wrong. People are scared straight by these stories to a certain degree. But also they give us a sense of distance from social issues like things that actually really do bother us. It's almost like being afraid in a safe space. Which one would you rather deal with? Like the certainty of danger, walking on the street as an African American man these days or watching Scream and Scream too, that kind of stuff. So it's the same reason we get on roller coasters, right? We like the Titillation. We like to feel safe, but we also want to do it.

JOHN JENNINGS

It's kind of an escape, and everybody's not into it. That's the other thing. I think the prediction is I've been into horror since I was a kid. My mother is a massive horror fan. We still talk hora and adventure stories all the time. She's still a big horror fan. Like, she'll watch anything multiple times, too, by the way. She's a repeat offender. She's like, if she likes a movie, she'll watch like 10,000 times. And so a lot, actually. And so that's only appeal to it, I think, as a creator now because of some of the popularity of horror and social issues that have been spurred on by movies like Get Out, for instance, or shows like Lovecraft. Country. They allow you to actually talk about these particular types of oppressive, monstrous things that have actually happened to people of color in our country with a certain amount of metaphor and distance. And that's very appealing, just as a writer for me.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Well, and also, does that sense of metaphor and distance also make it more effective in maybe getting people who are not familiar with these issues or not aware of things like the Tulsa Race riots or things that happened for real using horrors? That a good means of kind of like opening people's eyes to real things, but kind of sneaking around and getting them to become aware of it.

JOHN JENNINGS

I definitely think so. You mentioned the Tulsa Race Mascara, for instance. I was shocked at how many people had never heard of it until fairly recently. But The Watchman television show, that was on HBO, which is kind of like a sequel to the comic book The Watchman by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. So, yeah, a lot of people responded to that because they thought it was made up. And so once they realized, like, oh, my God, this actually happened in our country, it totally shed a new light on things. So, yes, it is a really interesting way to teach the history, especially since now that there's so much pushback against things that don't necessarily show our country in the most positive light. The truth of the matter is that most countries come out of, like, good and bad intentions. Our particular country, a lot of the capital that was used to create it was based on the enslavement of Africans. That's the truth. That's how we started. That's not where we are now. But not telling students that as far as, like, the background, I think is a disservice to the kind of underlying ideas. Everybody wants to be the hero. A lot of times our country hasn't been, and that's the truth. So anyway, that's sometimes that's horrific as well.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And you've been involved with comics where the comics draw a lot on real world horror or images from real world horror, like Box of Bones. I assume that this is going to do some similar things to that, drawing on kind of with these morality tales, drawing on some real world horror.

JOHN JENNINGS

Yeah, I think it definitely seems to be so. I know for a fact, even though that David Walker is Blackenstein, whatever he's going to call it, it's obviously dealing with issues around violence against black men. I know Rodney Barnes piece definitely is very anti racist and how it's put together. My two stories I have one story in the call is called The Breaks, and it's really about the unfortunate demise of pure hip hop culture. And also it's kind of a vilification of the Reagan era to a certain degree, too, about the AIDS epidemic and things of that nature, but it's not necessarily stated that way. But you know that a lot of that came out of just turning a blind eye to the AIDS crisis, for instance, during his presidency. The other thing was the other story I did is anti domestic violence narrative. So that's the other story. So both of them are morality tales to a certain degree. The first one is actually more about more of an elegy, I would say, about the depth of a particular or the shifting of a particular culture and basically how it changed the way we looked at the world, but also some of the things that actually kind of led to its demise in some ways. Or like it's demise the pop culture still around, but it's just not what it was. Right. And the other one is, of course, a very personal narrative about just the violence against women in domestic spaces.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And I saw you give a talk a while ago on ethnogothic and explain a little bit about what that is and why it kind of needs to be separated out as a subgenre.

JOHN JENNINGS

Well, I mean, I think that and I'm kind of wrestling with this a lot, too. When Stanford Carpenter and I were thinking about the Ethnogothic, it was a reaction to the fact that when a few years ago, when Afro futurism was coming to bear and actually was becoming a mainstream term, it started to seem like everything that was magical in black or like Sci-Fi and black was being pushed under Afro futurism. It became like this big umbrella term and we're like, well, it was starting to issue genre, you know what I'm saying? For instance, something like kindred I guess you could think of it as Afro futurist. I tend to think of it as more gothic because of the tropes that are embedded in the story. The idea of the doppelgangers. There there's mystical aspects. There's body horror. There's this weird, like, twisted love quadrant triangle, I don't even know what you want to call it that actually feels more like a gothic narrative. And also, too, like, at the end of it, it's not necessarily pessimistic, but it leans more towards a Nealistic end point. At the end of it, it's not like, oh, we defeated slavery. No, slavery still pervades, and it's destroyed this woman's life. The end. We're thinking about, like, well, how can we unpack the demons and the monsters that actually hunt black folk and then move to an Afro future? So I sort of think about Afro future as a destination and not just a genre or, like, what do you call it, a cultural production method, right? So I always use Erica badu's song Bag Lady as an example. If you heard the song, it's about this song. Erica Badu is watching this woman who's homeless, who has all these bags that she's dragging behind her, and she's trying to get to this bus, right? And so she said, you need to let those bags go. So it's a metaphor for, like, letting go of pain and struggle and things of that nature in those bags, though, they're like, oh, here's, Jim Crow is in that bag, and the Tuskegee experiments are in that bag, and all these different horrible things are in that bag. And you have to let those go. You have to name those things and then move to the future. So that we were thinking about the ethnogod as a as a cathartic means to, like, deal with those things readily. Now, recently, I've been thinking about what I've been calling Racecraftian Horror, which I've been very interested in because you're familiar with Lovecraft and probably like, Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror. I bumped into a friend of mine who said, you know what? If you think about Cosmic Horror, you can actually use the black experience of racism as, like, the cosmic awe aspect of, like, black horror, that kind of thing. It becomes this monstrous thing. This thing is inescapable and life crushing, that kind of idea. I tend to not agree with that. I think it's super pessimistic. But there is this book by Karen and what is another sister's name? The field sisters. They're sisters, actually. Alice member Karen's name, dang it. Anyway, there's two sisters named Fields, and they and they did this book named Racecraft, and it's about thinking about, you know, racism as a kind of spell. You know, they're like it's kind of like belief based, like witchcraft. So they called it racecraft. You know, in order for you to actually make it work, you have to believe in it, even because it's a fictional structure, right? And so I was thinking, like, man, that's a really interesting concept. So actually, I took the fact that Lovecraft's name is Lovecraft, and I created this thing called Racecraft and Horror, which is kind of like if you take what they call the Afro surreal, which is about the strangeness of blackness in everyday life and mix it with a Cosmic Horror aesthetic to a certain degree. And that's kind of what I've been thinking about. Examples like Box of Bones, for instance, or Lovecraft Country, the comic book Bit of Root, I think also does that. And then also things like Victor Laval's really great novella, The Ballad of Black Tom, which actually remixes the horror Red Hook and turns into this really interesting idea around remixing Race through a Lovecraftian lens. So I know that was a big answer, but yeah, but I think it's a very utilitarian thing. I've been thinking about genre and thinking about theory around it for a while now because it just keeps popping up and it's effective. Why are people dealing with these ideas like this?

BETH ACCOMANDO

Well, it's also interesting you bring up Lovecraft because he's such an interesting figure for creating horror. There's so much about what he created that strikes a real nerve with everyone. But then he also comes from this place where he was Xenophobic and racist.

JOHN JENNINGS

He was all the things he's like xenophobe, classist, racist, sexist, all of the things. Right. Yeah.

BETH ACCOMANDO

But what's interesting, what I find interesting about him is that he sort of turned all the things that were sort of negative about him into something in art that helped us to kind of see what could fuel those kind of points of view. It's fascinating work, but it is something that when you bring up Lovecraft, sometimes people push back or don't know how to kind of deal with him.

 

JOHN JENNINGS

Yeah, it was funny. I remember being at a dinner party once at an art show opening, and I was talking his art critic, and we came across we talked about horror. We mentioned Lovecraft, and I mentioned this racism. And she just basically oh, it was just like, no, understand you racist. Understand that his work is racist. And it actually permeates the work. Right. Of course, as he neared the end of his life, his views started to change, which I thought was really cool. I often think, like, if he hadn't died so young, that his work would have shifted according to the times a little bit more, but who's to say? But he does give us these tools to actually examine monstrosity and symbolism, right? So some things are actually overt, like his poetry about black folk. He was not a very big fan back in the day, but the way that he uses metaphor about what the monsters symbolize, the technology of monsters and the technology of the cosmic and that kind of thing is actually extremely smart. The other thing he gave us, of course, is the idea of an open source catalog of work. Like he actively encouraged people to write within his cathal mythos. A lot of the Cthulhu mythos were actually perpetuated later by colleagues and friends of his and other writers. So it's an open source creation space, which I thought was really interesting. A lot of people think the necromantic car is a real thing because of that. Right? It's not a real thing. Made it up anyway.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And because you're going to be coming to Black Comics day, talk a little bit about kind of what appeals to you as an artist and a writer working in comics? What do you feel that it offers you that you're not finding elsewhere or that's exciting to work with?

JOHN JENNINGS

Well, I feel like once you start making comics, it's in your bones anyway. You know what I'm saying? It's a very immediate medium. And what I mean by that is, if you can make an image, you don't necessarily have to draw a comic. I mean, draw a cartoon or whatever. You actually take pictures and put words to them and stuff. If you can tell a story and sequence and you can make a comic, you just take it down to get to your copy shop or whatever and print up 20 copies of your little comic book, and you become a comic book publisher. It's that simple, actually. Of course, you might be editing and tweaking. You have different levels, you know, but that's how that's, like, zine culture, right? You just make something and you copy it and make it, you know, that's really cool. The other thing is that it's there's no medium that speaks so, so much to the surreal as comics do. I feel like it's a dream. It's a dream. Like, you know, space. I mean, film can have that quality to it, but for some reason, the way that comics do with symbols seems, like, so inherently smart and, like, recognizable to people, you know? It's something about the medium that actually relates to folk on a very visceral level. And the other thing is that everything on the page can tell a story from, like, the line quality to the color to the typeface you use. Everything has symbolic meaning, and I think that's really interesting, too. So it's a little bit like poetry to me. I feel like comics is like poetry and a little bit of theater, actually, too. It has a theatrical quality to it. I think there's something to be said about the fact that back during the Broadville era, you would actually have chalk talks where people would actually draw on the stage, like, really fast and have these chalk talks. It's really interesting anyway. So, yeah, that's one thing that appeals to me. I've been a fan of comics since I was a kid, and little did I know that it would turn into something that was part of my career, my main career. Of course, I'm a teacher, professor, but I do a lot of comics. Like, I basically teach comics. I write them, I edit them, I theorize about them, I publish them. It's just pretty crazy.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And in revisiting kind of that EC format, did you find anything different? What was that process of going back to EC comics and saying, like, let's do an anthology series kind of like them? And did you feel that you wanted to tap into exactly what it was, or did you find new things that you wanted to explore kind of within that format.

JOHN JENNINGS

It's funny because I think so. The Black anthology is definitely inspired by EC, but we kind of went about our own ways and made and put together the creative teams. I sort of wish that we did have an interlocutor to introduce the different things, but I could see us not agreeing who that would be. Me and my friend Stacey Robinson had this idea to do like Black Southern Horror Story. We wanted to call it crazy watermelon tails. And our interlocutor narrator was going to call the scarecrowpper. He's going to be like this little tar baby. Scary tar baby, scarecrow creature. But that was going to be fun. As far as like, things we learned from the form, I think we've been so busy trying to trying to create it. The other thing too is they kickstarted this kickstarted the project too. We raised like $52,000 to make the thing. I think that was a lot of the focus. But yeah, I'm always thinking about the anthology format. I mean, I think it's a really smart format. It's definitely like part of the backbone of genre fiction. I believe you find a lot of new talent there and stuff like that. And also it relates directly to the Pope aspects of it. But I think that the inspiration is not as direct as some would see. But I will say something like the Shook logo is definitely inspired by the Shock Suspense Stories logo. This calendar is derived from it. So that's pretty cool.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And in addition to writing and being an artist and being a teacher, you do a lot of curation of comics works. What are the challenges of that particular.

JOHN JENNINGS

Aspect as far as the imprint I run or that thing? There's so many there because I found the biggest problem is that there's never been a space like the one we've created at Megascope. And because of that, there's an overflow of so many ideas, so many people. We can't publish everything. It's a slow process to making comics is arduous. It's very difficult. It's hard work actually sitting down and drawing comics. And so a lot of times we're backed up and we have all these projects coming through and you have to read scripts and you have to look at your deadlines. It's hard. I think we've been really fortunate. We've gotten out like eight books so far since we've been over the last couple of years. There are some books that are hella late actually too, because people schedule shift and once you get in advance, you don't get the rest of your advances, the book is done. And if you're doing a 250 page book, that could be a while before you get the rest of your money. There's these kinds of concerns. A lot of financial try to keep morale up and keep pushing through. COVID was a huge don't start an imprint in the middle of a global pandemic. Maybe that would help. But on the flip side of that, we've actually had two Eyes nominations, a Locust Award nomination. Now Image an NA SDP Image Award nomination. So we've been making good books. We're just trying to get people to see. The other thing is, like, getting people to cut through the noise and see what we're doing. But yeah, I think that's going to happen, too. But yeah, those are the main challenges.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And how does it feel in terms of the artists that are like, the artists that you're considering and the talent that you're seeing come by? What kind of things are you seeing that either you're finding inspiring or that you're interested in pursuing more?

JOHN JENNINGS

Let me see. Well, I'm always excited to see different styles and different types of story ideas that are coming out of the BIPOC creative space. I just think, like, the sheer diversity is just wonderful to see. And don't get me wrong, I love superheroes. I think they're awesome. But we've seen what that looks like from a particular standpoint. I want to see what that looks like from another standpoint. I want to see different drawing styles. I want to see strange books. I think comic books should be strange. Personally, I want to make the weirdest things. You can do anything, so why would you just do something that's really simple and mainstream? Do something odd, odd and unforgettable? That's what I'm trying to go for. But yeah, I think there's some really experimental work that's being done. I'm hoping that we can get it out of the biggest this is another challenge, too, is like, the balance between art and commerce is always a big issue, right? I mean, you can't make make a weird ass book and then someone won't buy it. This is really strange. I don't know if I like, oh, this looks like this looks like Batman. I like it. It's that kind of thing. It's like, okay, if I could get you to sit still and really look at what we're doing. This book is kind of beautiful. So those are things that are happening. And also another problem, too, that I've come across and something I'm really kind of struggling with is the fact that I'm a 52 year old black man, and I have particular tastes, and you work with who you know, and so we need to diversify diversity. I want to have more focal color from various backgrounds on the line, but because when I think about, like, oh, I want to do a graphic novelization in the Middle Passage, that's a very black book. It's about slavery, and it's like magical, realistic slavery book. Right. I want to get more things on the line. So that's why I'm inspired. I want to see a diversity of creators that we can put through. Mind you, the only thing, too, is we can only do four books a year. So that's also a challenge. Right? So yeah, anyway, and there you have it. It's difficult, but it's wonderful. It's a lot of work. We're doing some great books, but it's a lot of work.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And tell me a little bit about the panel that's coming up at black comics day and your co panelists.

JOHN JENNINGS

Honestly, it's about me, Rodney Barnes, and Kevin Grevioux. Well, they call it the New Masters of Horror. We're overheads of horror. Kevin Grevioux co-created the Underworld movie franchise, actually the one about vampires and werewolves fighting with Kate Beckinsale. That one. So he's like co creator. Than Rodney Barnes is an award winning television producer. He worked on the boondocks. He's producing winning time for HBO. He worked on the Wu Tang Clan TV show. But he's a house of massive horror fan, and he writes great horror. Like, if you ever read his book, Killadelphia, for instance, is fantastic. And he just put out Blacula, a graphic novel. He got the rights from MGM to do this. I'm like, what's? Crazy. So, yeah. So I guess it's just us talking about our love for horror and some of the same things we're talking about here. I was surprised that they know they're going to do the panel, so I was like, oh, that's cool. I mean, the three of us who are doing this horror related work, so it makes sense to do a panel like that.

BETH ACCOMANDO

All right, I want to thank you very much for talking about black comics day and about your own work.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Well, I am looking forward to your panel on Black Comic sorry. I'm looking forward to your panel at Black Comics Day on Shook.

JOHN JENNINGS

Thank you.

 

BETH ACCOMANDO

That was John Jennings. Issue one of his Silver Surfer Ghost Light comic recently came out.

 

He will appear at Black Comix Day Sunday Feb 12 for Get Shooked The New Masters of Horror. I’ll be back tomorrow with my interview with Kevin Grevioux.

 

That wraps up another edition of KPBS listener supported Cinema Junkie. Remember to check out Cinema Junkie’s archives including a collection of podcasts highlighting Black films and filmmakers over the past century. You can find videos and more podcasts at kpbs-dot-org-slash-cinema-junkie.

 

If you enjoy the podcasts then please share it with a friend because your recommendation is the best way to build an addicted audience. You can also help by leaving a review.

 

Till our next film fix, I’m Beth Accomando your resident Cinema Junkie.

 

 

 

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Marvel
Cover art for John Jennings new Black superhero comic for Marvel, "Silver Surfer: Ghost Light."

John Jennings has been a guest on Cinema Junkie multiple times. He will be appearing on a panel about horror at Black Comix Day in San Diego on February 12 so I’m using that as an excuse to chat with him once again.

Jennings and I have discussed ethnogothic horror, dissected Jordan Peele’s "Us," and unpacked the contents of "Candyman." I love talking about horror with him and am excited about his upcoming horror anthology called "Shook."

Jennings is professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is a Hugo Winner, Eisner winner, New York Times bestselling author, curator, graphic novelist, editor, scholar and design theorist. In addition, he is the director of Abrams ComicArts imprint Megascope, which publishes graphic novels focused on the experiences of people of color. I get exhausted just looking at all he’s doing on his Instagram feed.

For his recent five-part mini series "Silver Surfer: Ghost Light," he drew on an old Marvel comics character.

Shook.jpeg
Second Sight Publishing
Teaser cover for "Shook: A Black Horror Anthology."

"His original name is Dr. Al B. Harper," Jennings explained. "He was created by Stan Lee and Sal Buscema and appeared in 1969 in a 'Silver Surfer' story. Harper gives his life to save the planet and Silver Surfer is enamored by this and so humbled by this, he actually buries him, and he puts this cosmic flame on his grave to burn eternally. And I was going through this and I asked Marvel, 'Why can't we bring this guy back?' And so they said, yes. And so I concocted this wild story about Dr. Al B. Harper, and I brought him back as a Black superhero called Ghost Light. The term ghost light comes from the theater. So a lot of theaters during the pandemic were shut down and so they would leave the ghost lights on to show that the show is going to come back, that the show will go on. I thought it'd be a great name for a new superhero."

His exciting upcoming project is the crowd-funded horror anthology called "Shook! The Black Horror Anthology" that draws inspiration from the old EC Comics.

"A lot of times they'd have these very short, kind of over the top, gory morality tales with a snap ending," Jennings said. "So if you've ever seen like 'Tales in the Crypt' then you're looking at what some of the inspirations are. So all of us grew up reading this type of stuff and being interested in this kind of stuff."

On Feb. 12, Jennings will be appearing on the Black Comix Day panel "Get Shooked! The New Masters of Horror" that will focus on the anthology. He will be joined on the panel by Rodney Barnes and Kevin Grevioux, all three will have stories in "Shook."

And if you have not listened to the other episodes in this series, check out Part One with Rodney Barnes and Part Three with Kevin Grevioux.