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Words of Wisdom

What inspired you to create your comic? 

What inspired me to create my graphic novel DayBlack was years of working as a tattoo artist. I found that the different types of people that I met , and all of the different subcultures and the different stories and experiences that they would share with me while in my chair proved to be very funny and sometimes even frightening. Stories that I felt like I never would’ve heard had I not had them in such a vulnerable position of being in pain. It’s also was inspired by my love of pop culture and film, and many of the underground comics of the 70s.

What is your writing process like?

My writing process is interchangeable with my drawing process. If I’m having writers block then I usually just Sketch and a story will come from that and spark the writing...if I’m not feeling visually creative , sometimes I will begin to write and I will get an idea that will immediately get the pencil going in my sketchbook.  But music is also a huge influence. Sometimes really abstract lyrics will give me ideas for Merce’s elaborate and bizarre dream sequences,  so if I’m trying to do something really far out, I will listen to the genre of music that will inspire that imagery. 

How many hours a day do you write?

How many hours in the day that I write and draw is really dependent on the mood that I’m in. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing or drawing and I know that whenever I try to force it the outcome is never what I want it to be so I definitely don’t force it,  but then inspiration will come out of nowhere and I’m a drawing all day and all night. But being that I have two small children at home, I usually have to try to fit in drawing and writing and around their schedule so lately it’s been a lot more sporadic. 

What does literary success look like to you?

For me success looks like being able to take care of my family for the long-term doing something that I love. Success also looks like leaving something behind after I’m gone that would have pushed the genre forward. Our time on earth is so limited that I just want to leave my mark with a spray can that says KEEF was here on the tree of life. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part of my artistic process has to be procrastination and distraction. Sometimes I'll surf the Internet looking for photo reference and click on something that’ll take me down a wormhole of distraction which leads to procrastination. So when I’m in the zone to create a new issue, I turn off my phone so I have no distractions. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn’t. LOL!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

My work energizes and exhausts me. But the exhaustion usually doesn’t come until after an issue is completed. But the whole while that I’m working on it, the energy level is always high because I am doing something that I truly love, and when I see it unfold before my eyes it is a very exciting feeling...and just knowing that there are people that are waiting to read it also gives me the ultimate boost of energy and excitement to show them what I have been working on.​

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

If I could tell my younger self anything it would be to pay attention in the comic book design class that you took in college. When I was in art school I had no interest in doing comics,  so I signed up for a comic book design class just to fill up my schedule and I didn’t pay attention in it at all... and I eventually ended up dropping it, but when I later decided to do my own comic, I found that I didn’t remember anything! So it led me to create my book on my own terms, which I think benefited me because a lot of people say that DayBlack doesn’t follow traditional comic book standards, and part of that was intentional but another part of it was just from me not recalling any of the lessons from that class. LOL! But who knows what DayBlack may have looked like had I been an A student in that may have been may have been worse, who knows but it worked out the way that it was supposed to.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a comic?

I really don’t spend much time researching at all unless I am tackling a specific something that I don’t know much about. But the things that stick out that I did research are some aspects of slavery in the south in some of the practices of African religion in folklore. Since Merce’s mother Larrieux was a Palero priestess I did a little research on African rituals and I even did a little research on identical twins and how they can be conceived,  but since it’s a fictional story I pretty much just take what I generally know about things and just have fun with it. I’m a firm believer of if it isn’t fun I really don’t want to do it. And researching isn’t fun for me.

What advice do you have for other Black comic creators?

Advice that I would give to other black comic book creators is don’t be afraid to create from a black point of view, no matter what that point of you may be, since there is no right or wrong way to be Black. I know a lot of Black, creators that draw mostly white characters because they feel like that will open more doors for them and that’s what they think the majority of people want to see. So for those that have that desire to tell their story the way that they want to but are afraid, I would say always create from the heart. That and draw draw draw never stop drawing...consistency is key.

You can follow Keef Cross on

Instagram: @keefcross


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