The Horsemen: Riders on the Storm

The Horsemen manifest at Wizard World—Chicago

By , Columnist

When the doors open on this year’s edition of the annual Wizard World—Chicago show, thousands of fans will flood the show floor, looking for their chance to see and speak with the best and brightest creators in the industry. And, if they look very carefully amongst the various booths and throughout Artists’ Alley, they can meet the rising stars of comics just before they ascend the heights.

And that’s where you’ll find Jiba Molei Anderson this weekend. He’ll be appearing at The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg booth, representing them as one of their instructors. But he’ll also be hawking The Horsemen, his self-published comic that presents a decidedly different take on the superhero team.

horsemen.jpgThe Horsemen are seven people who have been possessed by the gods of Ancient Africa to save humanity from itself…. We are too often distracted by things like organized religion, politics, commerce, technology, war, lust, life and death. These are 'diversions' that keep us from seeing the bigger picture. The Horsemen are here to shake us out of our stupor and help guide us to a higher sense of being.”

According to Anderson, “The Horsemen started as my thesis for graduate school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. I wanted to write, design and illustrate a book on the history of African American superheroes and their connection to African American folklore and African mythology-specifically, the Yoruba religion of Nigeria. Each chapter was going to be titled after one of the Orishas (manifestations of Olodumare, or God)..." 

Everything proceeded well until he unexpectedly faced one of those moments of artistic truth. “As I was designing the Orishas, I came to a crossroads: Do I illustrate these gods in traditional African dress or do I make them superheroes? I decided to follow the path of Jack Kirby and re-contextualize this mythology in the same way he did with Norse mythology for Thor. Once that happened, I said to myself, 'These characters are way too cool to be limited to just a thesis project.'”

He decided to set up his own publishing company, and when casting about for the first project to bear the Griot Enterprises imprint, The Horsemen proved to be the perfect vehicle. “I realized that… we had seen many great African American superheroes in comics, but we never saw an iconic African American superhero team. We didn’t have our Justice League, our Avengers.”

Still, Anderson refused to create some pale imitation of those other teams. “My goal was to make The Horsemen that iconic team based on a very global, but distinctly African/African American viewpoint. Furthermore, I wanted to create a book featuring seven African and African American characters and not have race be the totality of the book’s relevance, but rather something that simply enhances the story and was inclusive to all cultures.”

As for what’s coming up for The Horsemen, “The first mini-series, Divine Intervention has been collected into a trade paperback and the first two issues of the second mini-series, The Book of Olorun are available now at WowioLulu and Drive Thru Comics as well as in select comic book shops."

Regarding his future plans, Anderson said, “After the third issue [of The Horsemen] is done, I’m going to start working on the prequel Pantheon and my sci-fi kung fu project Outworld.

“Now, imagine working on that while working on an animated music video for The Ex-Senators, being the lead creative director for the upcoming Facebook game Taletown and teaching full time. They say there is no rest for the righteous or the wicked…

“That’s why you have so many superhero/super villain fights.”

Jiba Molei Anderson will be appearing at The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg booth during the Wizard World—Chicago convention, August 11 - 14, 2011.

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