aphtoncorbin aphtoncorbin

CalArts Animation Student: “If I Don’t Draw Black Characters, Who Will?”

CalArts character animation student Aphton Corbin has been publishing an impressive series of daily comics in honor of Black History Month.

Yesterday’s piece by Corbin speaks directly to the idea of what it means for a young person of color to be creating artwork in an industry that famously cranks out homogeneous product that rarely deviates from established formulas.

Corbins’ comic is reminiscent of comments by El Tigre co-creator and Book of Life director Jorge Gutierrez, who has often spoken out about the lack of representation in the animation industry. “When is the Mexican princess going to show up?” Gutierrez used to wonder when he was a kid, before realizing that “to make something that resonates, it should always come from an honest place.”

For artists just coming into the business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making more of what the industry already produces, but as Corbin’s comic and Gutierrez’s experiences remind us, the power to transform the industry is within the grasp of each individual artist.

You can read Corbin’s comic below:

tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho2_1280 tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho6_1280 tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho4_1280 tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho5_1280 tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho3_1280 tumblr_o38hctmNtF1rk67pho1_1280

And here are Corbin’s second and third-year films produced at CalArts: Ajani the Brave and The Deep End.

(Thanks, Tres Swygert )

  • I’m excited you’re sharing Aphton Corbin’s work here on Cartoon Brew! It really is worth the share. Thank you for doing this Amid!

  • Please, please, please make some books!!!! Get that audience, get that voice out there and make a difference with unique content. Inspire others and find others who will help make this happen! Great work, it gives me hope.

    • I see her work easily getting a spot on many African Television channels. We don’t have much of original, well done African cartooning or comics. This could really be something!

  • A really great comic strip that really means and tells something important.

  • johnTnash

    Great work, Aphton!

  • jerrybrice

    Excellent work, keep on pushing You are good!

  • Isaia

    Aphton Corbin’s work spoke to so many art and animation students of color, particularly to black students and fans of animation. She’s so important and I’m so glad you guys made an article about her!

  • Marlena Nkene

    Thank you! As a black illustrator who draws black people, I can totally relate to this!

    • The_Purple_People_Eater

      This is kind of unintentionally hilarious. I kind of wonder how anime eyes and chibi proportions work with such serious subject matter and historical civil rights figures. I never imagined those designs to be expressive enough to evoke overcoming discrimination.

      • The title implies it is a book for children. Also, what designs do you think are expressive enough to “evoke overcoming discrimination”? Because that kind of wording is very close into falling back into the trap of not challenging conventions that push a very white character uniform approach to art.

        • Marlena Nkene

          Thank you Zeke! I am always surprised by those types of comments. I think sometimes many of us adults forget what its like to be young. As important as learning our history is. how it is presented to little ones can affect their interest in it for life. There’s that saying “people may not always remember what you do, but they will ALWAYS remember how it made them feel.

          I want black children to feel empowered, confident and NOT like they are having to sit through a learning session. I want them to open up my books like the would any other cute fun book or any fun show on their own accord. At the 2-7 age bracket, they won’t even know this is an educational book. They simply enjoy it because it features characters doing interesting, fun things that look like them.

          Some questions I have gotten from children are: “What is that thing he is pouring?”, “What are those things on the shelves?”, “What is she doing?” They are interested and engaged!

          The dialogue with these kids alone is phenomenal! I get to introduce microscopes, scientific terminology, who invented what and when, various squadrons for the Tuskegee Airmen and their different badges. Their vocabulary is being expanded and they don’t even have to be prompted to ask questions. I really love what I do. Thank you for speaking up!

      • Marlena Nkene

        Purple People Eater. Imagine, if you will, a room full of little 4 and 5 year old kids learning about, and coloring pages filled with black contributions to American history. That is my age demographic. This is what gets THEIR attention. You might not understand if you do not have or regularly communicate with small children. Which I do. :)

        But I want you to think about this. MANY black children are exposed to European history and characters, even in fictional capacity in cartoons and otherwise from the moment they begin learning to talk or even earlier. Often times, most black children are only introduced to their history very late and usually learn about the same characters over and over and over again. My series gives them a head start and a foundation of familiarity with each character so that it’s something they will identify with and take an interest in throughout their entire lives.

        Black history should not be an elective. It should be something that all black families introduce to their children as early as possible so that they can take pride in the achievements of their heritage. By failing to educate our children we are further fueling the narrative that black people’s contributions to humanity are a footnote in American history compared to white contributions.

        We are depriving our children of the opportunity of seeing themselves in roles of leadership and diverse careers until very late in the game. Imagine what that does to children when the rest of the world stereotypes and attempts to pigeonhole them or systematically promotes only “certain” careers as realistcally attainable for children of color.

        My book subject matter presents stories of triumph on overcoming discrimmination and even physical limitations in a positive kid-friendly way. We want our kids to develop positive associations with learning THEIR history. Not bored to death with long-winded elaborate explanations that make them lose interest very quickly. (If you teach little ones, as I do. That is one of the challenges I have faced)

        The series allows children to effortlessly learn facts about each character and encourages them to aim high! My own children immediately responded to it, as well as classes full of children I have read to. There are free coloring pages and an educational app I will be releasing very soon that goes along with it as well. Feel free to visit my facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/africanamericanlegends


    • Lauren Sparks

      Oh goodness, this is adorable!! I hope a lot of kids read it.

  • Dusty Ayres

    It should really be ‘If I don’t get my black ass into the animation industry to do this instead of over the shoulder creating using a blog and social media, who will?’

  • Joel

    This is really, really great. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m gonna look up more of Aphton Corbin’s stuff now!

  • truteal

    Japan is still a very homogenous nation

    The majority of Children in the United States (animation’s main demo) are still white, but that is going to change soon, Latin American children are going to become the majority (hence why the Mouse House made Sophia the First and is making Elena of Avalor)

    • ea

      That’s not really an excuse for Japan to depict black people the way the west did decades ago.

      • The_Purple_People_Eater

        I think it’s more of an explanation more than an excuse. Japan has a lot of problems it has to work through before it is comfortable enough to be a “progressive nation” with its social issues.

        It’s not like Japan is alone either. Most countries outside the US are very segregated and/or don’t have as many cultures and ethnic groups who share the same neighborhoods and school systems.

      • pinkranger7777

        It [in part] comes down to media exposure. Certain demographics are displayed certain ways in different countries. In Japan, African Americans are mostly displayed in the way they’re seen via music and videos [mainly music videos]; most of which are rappers and hip hop artists. With that genre comes the “thug life” aesthetic, which is the driving force for the category. African Americans are shown this way because a lot of people in our community display themselves this way.

        That being said, there are other members in our community who don’t show interest nor classification with said aesthetic; mainly those in the animation, media and- dare I say- “nerd” community, as well as “artist”; but this doesn’t matter as much because the numbers are so low in the comparison, ergo the lack of representation for this side of the African American people. Unfortunately, Japan’s presenting of other cultures can be a bit misrepresenting, misconstrued as well as uninformed; however, it’s important to consider the way said demographic/community represents themselves at large. Adding to this, the same thing could be said about the way Japanese are represented in America, i.e.,”Kawaii, desu”, “Harajuku girls”, “weird/random”, “anime”, etc. Each demographic has it’s own stereotypes- with that comes an image or stigma.

        Much like a coin, it’s a double-sided story and it’s important to consider both sides.

  • Guest

    I’m glad that shes growing out of anime its the most overused style among animators these days. People need to be themselves and talk about their own experiences and I commend her for doing that.

    • Johnny

      Spoken like someone with no real clue what “Anime” even means outside of what they presume is simply a homogeneous art style.

      • LeSean Thomas

        Nobody ever says ” I’m glad she’s growing out of European Art aesthetic, or Disney/Pixar’s largely homogenous aesthetic, or the insanely popular Pendelton-by-numbers style that seems to be coming out of CalArts for TV animation” I have no problem with either. Do what you love.

        I do have a problem with those who don’t look past mainstream standards of another culture, but accepts the aforementioned, native, mainstream standards l’ve listed above.

        It’s like low-brow ethnocentricity, except with animation. Let these kids cook. Nobody bats an eye when all we copy is European Art History. I can’t count how many Americans are obsessed with European artists in history but can’t speak French or Italian, or have never been to Italy or France but will praise Monet & Picasso, or Michaelangelo, or Divinci.

        Leave these kids alone and let them be influenced by whoever they want, it’s ALL foreign to us Americans anyway.

        • Guest

          Plenty of people complain on the forums about the Pendleton Style, the Pixar style, or the old european art aesthetic. No matter how obscure an artist or art style is you will always find a complainer. So don’t worry people have lamented. Anime Conformity on the other hand is a rarely addressed issue in animation despite the fact that it is a pervasive problem. No one on here is saying that they should not do what they love. More power to the artist if they do what they love. I’m just saying that is it really a bad thing to wish that kids these days were introduced to a broader range of styles to study outside of anime? That is the real question.

          • LeSean Thomas

            The same can be said for the styles you listed. My point is let them be whatever they’re into. why suggest policing a style choice at all? if it works for them, let them cook is my point. You can wish all that you like.

            People like what they like. Because there’s a real world out there, operating independently of our personal, value judgements.

          • Guest

            Well honestly I don’t want to police or control anyone. Even though my laments make it seem that way. I just think personally that there is a whole world of art out there going back thousands of years waiting to be explored. And that there should be more diversity than just young artists just settling on anime. Eddie Fitzgerald once bought it up on his blog about the millennial generation attaching itself to anime. I think that for an artists unique voice to be heard they need to look into as many influences and art styles as possible.

          • guest

            Okay all I said was that there should be more artistic diversity among millenials than them just studying just anime. Its not about whether I wish for something different, its not about my attitude towards those kids. I just think that great art is more likely to be accomplished when someone is not conforming to a particular style, but that problem has been growing in recent years. Anime is fine to use as an influence but when its the only thing that kids have their minds set on then it leaves out other opportunities for them to discover other artists in other countries and cultures.

          • guest

            It’s not about what I wish or what I want. I think that conforming to one style limits what an artist can accomplish. All I meant to say was that it would be better if younger artists expanded their horizons and went beyond anime.

          • Netko

            People like what they’ve been influenced into liking. It’s not like these people were born imitating anime, they’re doing it because it’s a popular style that a lot of others are into (especially young teens and adolescents) and that a lot of popular cartoons nowadays have. And popularity breeds lack of creativity.

            People complain about any other repetitive style, like the Calarts style or the Disney style or the cgi-cartoon style. Anime just happens to be so popular among amateur artists and unfortunately for the artist (but not us probably) it has no market here because the industry that popularized it is perfectly fine staying in Japan.

  • I’m a white dude who draws and writes African characters all the time, and I can relate to Corbin’s getting the question “why so many black characters?” If anything, I wonder if she might have it (a bit) easier since she’s African-American herself and is drawing characters from her own racial background. Let me tell you, there’s still this widespread perception that white characters are an acceptable default whereas anyone with a lot of black characters has to be deviant somehow. And I can vouch that white women in particular aren’t always crazy when a white guy draws mostly African women. Unfortunately too many white people are used to being at the center of the show even if they don’t recognize it.

  • different

    Yoruichi and Tier Harribel from bleach, Izumi, and Iris from pokemon, Viletta Nu from Code Geass, Afro Samurai, Planetess, every gundam series, all black people main characters.

    • I’m not sure you know what “main character” means. I don’t know about the others, but Yoruichi, Harribel, and Villetta are all supporting characters.

      • Bernie Bunuan

        So is Val in “Josie and Pussycats”, Dr. Hibbert and Car Calson in ‘The Simpsons”, Susie Carmichael in “Rugrats”. At least Yoruichi has directly fought the villains in Bleach.

  • Stefania Gallico

    YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! ROCK ON SISTER!!!!!!!!!

  • Haji Abdullah

    I was like that till I heard about Sakanouye No Tamuramaro Japan’s first African Shogun. In ancient Japan you have to have African Blood to be considered a warrior. Plus Asian martial arts actually came from Africa and take a closer look at those statues (Africans)

    “For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.”

    — Japanese Proverb

  • artanisone
  • Jub

    You must know “Kirikou” ? it’s made by a white person (Michel Ocelot, a famous french animator), a story that takes place in Africa (there are 2 movies). It is for young children, but people like me love to watch them too (really a very good animation). I know there was problems in the US because you could see nude breast somewhere (women are half nude, like in some place in Africa). If you never saw it, please do !

    • Bernie Bunuan

      It’s not just France that’s making animation with lead black characters. “Bilal” was made in Dubai. The animated promo for “Kariba” was made in South Africa. I read an article that a South African cartoon has been licensed for distribution around the continent.

      America just isn’t leading in animated ethnic diversity.

  • Johnny

    “Anime” isn’t an art style and anyone who says it is is wrong. An art style is very personal to an artist but they are heavily influenced by their peers and those who have come before them. It’s laughable to believe non-Japanese have a huge diversity of art styles when that’s clearly not the case. Everything is just minor tweaks on already established formulas and the idea that’s drilled into the heads of every young artist that they have to be truly unique snowflakes is complete rubbish. There are a rare few that form almost wholly original styles like Osamu Tezuka or Jack Kirby but why are the ones who follow in their footsteps any lesser or considered worthless copycats?

    That’s just talking about art styles since animation is a different matter all together. Your art style can be as unique as it wants but chances are it’ll end up moving generically across the screen. There’s an entire sub category of animation enthusiast that study the unique ways in which individual animators will add their own touches to the animation process. They don’t find anything really worth examining in modern American animation but older animation from the “Golden Age” and the entire swath of commercial animation from Japan is filled with these unique flourishes to study.

    American’s are almost seemingly obsessed with individuality expressed through art style that the appreciation of the actual animation is largely underdeveloped. This particular artist’s interest with Anime on a superficial level aligns right into my thoughts on why certain developing non Japanese artists latch on to it and try to obsessively mimic it. Once they’ve been told they’re not supposed to copy “Anime” by a teacher, which is then parroted by their fellow peers, they begin to lose all interest in it so as not to be seen as some sort of copycat. Their understanding of “Anime” never progresses beyond their somewhat silly obsession with its “art style” which they don’t particularly understand and Japanese animation continues to be marginalized and made as “Other”.

    As a non white minority I would never slight other minorities for wanting more diversity but the way this issue is being brought up in context to Japanese animation makes me ambivalent to this person’s particular issues.

  • As the only Black art director on staff at a retail ad agency many years ago, my answer to “why do you used so many Black models” was the same, word for word. If I don’t, who will? The void in animation is just as clear and I’m trying to help fill that too with WINONA, INC. But my lead isn’t a superhero. She’s an ex-superMODEL.

  • Joseph Madison

    That is true… But I’m a young animator and I’m making my own black comic book coming up
    but I don’t have any supporters or help…So I’m kinda scared people won’t read my future comics!?!?

  • Christopher P. Lehman

    Thank you, Mr. Amidi. This is the kind of discussion I was hoping that the animation community would start having after I wrote THE COLORED CARTOON.

  • Doomedpaladin
  • Lloyd Evans Green

    beautiful please don’t give up, and you’re not the only one out there who wants to make a difference representing our people in animation and comics. hang in there.

  • Alice Frederick

    The majority of anime characters are Japanese. The reason for them being peach color is due to color contrast. While I agree black people are underrepresented in anime I would like to point out that the ones that are in anime are very well written and very memorable not due to their complexion but due to their character. It’s not right to totally write it off as “No one wants blacks in anime”. Another reason for them not being so represented in anime is almost all anime takes place in Japan and involves school children which in Japan are vastly Japanese or other nationalities from Asia and rarely in real life do non collage age students attend Japanese schools enough to really be part of the represented majority that is common. While this is true, I still believe the ” All of humanity ” anime should include more groups than the white or the other Asian people. However the real reason anime includes so little representation of black people is just the manga that has black people in it just aren’t as popular for mostly writing being bad and bad manga doesn’t get made into anime. If you want more representation of black people read manga there is many indie titles to choose from and this is just an honest and realistic recommendation from someone who is an avid reader of manga and watcher of anime.

    • Rees

      I was about to say the same thing. Most people don’t seem to realize that anime/manga are Japanese. The majority of Japan is asian, it’s unlike for a person to come across a black or even white (Caucasian) person in Japan. The reason amine/manga characters look “white” it because Japanese people’s skin complexion it similar to Caucasian.

      I personally, have read plenty of manga that have nicely drawn (not ugly) black characters that aren’t on the side or bad in personality.

      And besides that, you can find a decent amount of cartoon and comics in America (as well as other countries) that have black characters as the main character or play an important role.

      This artist shouldn’t base make an assumption based on the anime they’ve seen. I know that some anime/manga genres don’t have black people in them.

      If you look, with little effort, you can find plenty of cartoons and comics with black characters as protagonists and are well drawn and pleasing to look at. Google can help aid anyone in their search.

  • Aitch is Trubble !!
  • aaa

    Why should anime care about AMERICAN diversity issues when they have their own oppressed minorities to deal with?

    Yes, it’s bad when a good chunk of America is black but US cartoons only show whites, but japan? They have Burakumin and Ainu and I’ve only ever seen Hiromu Arakawa talk about the latters’ oppression.

    • Brandon Shorter

      Eh… Japanese Art and storytelling doesn’t have a base in realism usually so I don’t see them addressing “representation ” the way the West does . You look at the multitude of stylzed art and colored hair and eyes and random skin tones . Miyazaki delt with it a bit in Princess Monokoe. Burakuumin aren’t really an ethnic group, but Japanese people who descend from a lower-class of workers who preformed jobs people consider bad or dirty . The Ryukyuan people People are an ethnicity and you see them ever now and then in Anime (The dark skin characters )usually .To be honest rare to see direct representation of anything . There are Hafu and people who are half black and half Japanese , in-fact the Miss Japan is Half black and Half Japanese . And there is tons of Racial discrimination against anyone who’s mixed but particular targeted at darker skin Japanese ethnic groups.

      • Honest_Miss

        I mean… Star Wars isn’t exactly based in reality either, and it didn’t stop them? Seems like an excuse more than a reason.

        • Nico Beans

          Star wars isn’t Japanese art or storytelling?

          • Honest_Miss

            Well, if the stories aren’t based in reality, then their Japanese origin shouldn’t matter.

  • Ein on Shrooms

    This resonates with me as a Hispanic male too!

  • Kae Kelley-Ottobre

    Love! We don’t live in a monochrome world, and it’s high time that this is reflected in anime. Keep drawing!

  • Johnetta Queen

    As a Black female illustrator, this was very encouraging and inspiring to read. Got the same question during my years at MICA. May my characters always have melanin and look what the beautiful people I grew up around! :)

  • LeSean Thomas

    I will agree with you there. The studios in power dictate styles so long as they control what gets on TV. That’s changing though. At an alarming rate (same goes for north american comic books).

  • Bernie Bunuan

    I found it very regrettable the artist has pointed at anime’s growing lack of ethnic diversity. In truth, decades ago it had more black representation, just as American cartoons did. Yet I’ve even seen more black characters overall in anime than in American cartoons.


    1) Michiko and Hatchin was set in Brazil with many Afro-Brazilians in the background.
    2) The Robotech saga had Claudia Grant and Bowie Grant.
    3) Afro-samurai was animated in 2007.
    4) Cowboy Bebop featured many black people, either in the background or guest characters
    5) Cyborg 009 has a continuously updated Cyborg 008/Punma to reflect the current racial perceptions
    6) Sol Biana has a black woman, Feb Fall, as one of the team’s leaders.
    7) Technically, it’s not clear what Kiddy Phenil’s ethnic background is in Silent Mobius. We only know she’s Australian.
    8) Jormungand has Wiley as their explosives expert
    9) Tenjo Tenge has Bob Makihara, who practices capoeira.
    10) The original Gundam series has people of colour in the background but it has the premise there’s been greater inter-racial and cross-cultural marriages in that time.

    But let’s broaden the scope more. Over the past ten years I’ve seen more non-American studios feature leading Black African characters than Hollywood producing African American led cartoons. It’s not even centered on the ‘Ancient Egyptians were Black’ issue.

  • Strong Enough

    “(14 years) and he had told me he thought animation was a white mans job.”

    lmao. really? ok

    • Perryn

      That’s not an uncommon question actually. It’s not unusual for Black Children, looking into careers and jobs where they don’t see themselves represented, and question if they’ll be welcome in those industries.

      • Strong Enough

        Of course. But I’ve never really heard of a child in this age say something like that. It’s weird. I never said anything like that when I was younger either. Not saying it didn’t or doesn’t happen. It’s just crazy to read.

        • Daniell

          I think he meant he’s been an animator for 14 years. He doesn’t say how old the young man was. As a black woman I can imaginep people younger and older that 14 having this view of particular jobs based on their experiences and media/social exposure etc.

  • roberto

    JAPAN Ethnic groups

    98.5% Japanese
    0.5% Korean
    0.4% Chinese
    0.2% Filipino
    0.2% Brazilian
    0.1% Vietnamese
    0.1% other

  • Paul

    If i went up to my Anime students and asked them why do you always draw Japanese characters in your Anime, they would call me a racist.

    WHATS WRONG WITH ASIANS? The whole point of Anime is to expose myself to other cultures i do not often or ever will visit.

    If I insisted that they put more American or western characters in their anime or heaven forbid make the girls look like real women then I would be an imperialist. Telling other non-white cultures how to conform to American values that we THINK are far superior to theirs I would in fact be a RACIST.

    The fact a African American girl has found a non-Black cultural art form that she admires is called PROGRESS. She could at any time make a comic with American blacks that reflect her own experiences.

  • Samuel Mann

    I am really surprised about this topic and all those reactions…I feel a lot of confusion…and don’t see real accurate questions about this topic.
    What do you think about japanese who are under-representated in the US rap and hip hop? Or arabs that practice kun-fu ?
    Why when we are talking about black people (if it’s a matter of color skin) we make the difference between african american and the african and just say white people ? Is an Italian catholic the same than a german jewish ?
    Do you care about art ? ideology ? or your ego ?
    Don’t you think think there is a paradox to ask to a foreign culture and it’s tradition to reply to your own cultural and your identity problems ?

  • Daetrix Master Art

    That has been my response to more than a few people about my anime as well.

  • Bernie Bunuan

    Wow, it mentions shows I haven’t been able to watch myself. But it demonstrates a problem I’ve noticed in the greater media. While anime has more black representation than we’ve claimed here, the distribution of those many titles are limited. Most of the titles I’ve posted are old. Current franchises are needed to keep up diversity, but most anime titles have a limited run. They don’t go on like the Simpsons or enjoy huge merchandising. We’ve seen how successful merchandising can also drive a franchise.

    The non-American animation I referred to earlier will not get as much promotion in the American market. Their biggest releases will likely be at film festivals, then the cable channels and online channels. I don’t know if anybody rents or buys DVDs anymore.

    Critics demanding greater representation just refer to the high profile roles. They think that’s where the power and privilege lies. Looking at this year’s Oscars has proven that even films directed by Asians has fallen under the radar of the protesters.

  • TB

    French animated films are less shy in having black protagonists. The hugely famous Kirikou and the recent Adama come to mind.

  • Lauren Sparks

    Wow, this comments section has devolved into anime opinions. As pointed out by several people, the diversity of animation from Japan is a rather separate topic from American animation, that seems to be mostly rooted in how homogenous the country is. Considering how much is exported, it would be nice if they considered their foreign viewers, but anyway…

    I read through the rest of Aphton’s comics on her Tumblr, and they are powerful because of how personal and truthful they are – bravo for such honesty that clueless pinkish US residents need to listen to and heed. Insensitivity due to ignorance is cured with learning. I know February is over, but I think it would be awesome if Aphton continued to make comics like this if she has time; I really hope that the ones she has already created will continue to spread! Diversity in American animation seems to be slowly improving; I hope that her work will introduce more of it so that kids now and in the near future will not grow up with the thought that they are the wrong color. That is the saddest thing I’ve read. :(

  • Great piece. It’s so easy for EVERY artist to fall into the habit of only drawing their own ethnicity. Thanks for the poke in the comfort zone!

  • Strong Enough

    Im not white tho. lol

    like i said i never said it as a kid or heard anyone around me say something like that but i can understand it completely.

  • Stephen Scanlon

    I like the swimming short. Original story ANYone can relate to. The art style was wonderful. The voices spot on.

  • Chris Webb

    I didn’t read all of the other posts here… So if I am repeating something others have written, forgive me. If you can make cartoons, them make them. Don’t worry about anime, make cartoons. And make them featuring the characters you want to showcase.

    You have the capability to reach an audience of millions. Millions of people who feel the same as you do – “When will I see animation that I can relate to? Animation about me and my life and the stuff I know about?” So serve that audience and you will do fine. And if you take it seriously and build a business from your cartoons, the financial opportunities are limitless. You don’t need to go through Hollywood… just concentrate on making great cartoons that touch people and your work will become popular.

    I have often wondered what people love about anime… I think the “Japanese-ness” of it is very important. (Please forgive that word, but what else can you call it?) If Anglo characters are moving the same way, it just looks like bad animation. A large part of anime’s appeal to westerners is its exotic (to western eyes) nature. So I am saying if you are not Japanese, don’t bother trying to make anime, because it won’t be the same. Make limited animation instead.

    Certainly there are many many westerners who would love to see cartoons made by an African American creator. By default, being an animator who is black makes you unique… Use it. Personalize it. It can make you strong.

    Much luck to you!

    PS: Check out a western animator that uses plenty of anime style limited-animation tricks in his own unique way: http://www.plymptoons.com/

  • Mr.Sixes

    Bear Walken
    Sherry Walken McDowell
    Bob Makihara
    Victor Freeman (blaster knuckle)
    Cyborg 008
    Claudia grant
    Love James
    Ball from 666 Satan
    Muhammad Avdol
    Canary(Hunter X Hunter)
    Raikage Ei, Darui, Killer Bee
    Enrico Pucci
    April (Darker than black)
    Mr. 5(One piece)
    Afro/Ninja Ninja (since NN is his Tyler Durden)
    Blue (wolf’s rain)
    Akio Ohtori
    Opacho (Shaman King)
    Mila Rose
    Miyuki (Basquash)
    Dan Davis (animatrix)
    Patrick Spencer
    Hououmaru (KLK)
    Jason Ozuma

  • gilatheripper

    Heh, when I started drawing black characters I didn’t care at all if they were popular or not. What mattered was that I enjoyed what I made and represented my people. Screw this popularity rat race.