Omari Malik is launching his own publishing company inspired by his desire to see characters that not only look like him but also share similar experiences with him.
Malik says that his dream of owning his own publishing company is rooted in his childhood. His father was not what one would expect from the typical comic book fan. He was a marine that later became a police officer. However, Malik fondly remembers his father’s profound love for comics and later inherited a sizable collection of comic books when his father tragically died by suicide in 2003, when Malik was just seven years old.
Ever since the love for comics that was passed on to him carried Malik to many comic conventions across the country and fed his appetite for consuming superhero content and discourse.
It was during his time at college that Malik realized that while he enjoyed reading comics even in his adult years, he felt as though he did not connect to the material in a meaningful way.
“I realized that no one was doing the things I wanted. I’m over tights; I’m over capes. I’m overseeing cliché archetypes and their cliché subversions,” Malik explained.
“I wanted something new, something cool that would speak to me and that would really speak to people who look like me—people who share similar experiences to me. Something that was for us without being forced, that we could enjoy without being embarrassed about it or without worrying about how it will be perceived,” He added. Subsequently, Malik is launching his company by releasing an anthology featuring three one-shot stories on Kickstarter. Each book features a black main character and three distinct styles, including a Japanese manga style. The first one-shot is a teen drama titled “Adastra.” It follows the story of a 15-year-old girl named Adaysia Mitchell.
“Adaysia has the power to shapeshift. She literally can be anything and everything she wants, but she’s struggling to be herself, all while trying to find time to save the world,” Malik said. He noted that he wrote the character based off of the behavior and personality of his younger sister as well as the experiences of his college girlfriend. “It was important for me to base her off of real people. Real women and girls who don’t get to see their unique experiences told in a predominantly white industry,” He shared. The second one-shot is a manga titled “Dogpile.” The story is about a man name DaQuan Raké, who lost his entire family in an “accident” when he was a child. Rather than going into foster care, he ran away to find a new family. He found his new family in an unexpected place amongst seven dogs. Now an adult, DaQuan is returning home with his dogs to fight crime and prevent other “accidents” from happening.
“Initially, before conceptualizing the anthology, I did research on folklore, particularly African folklore, that I believed would do well when translated into comics. One of the stories I came across was about a man and animals. I diverted a lot from the original tale, but it really took a shape of its own—which I’m proud of,” Malik shared. The third and final one-shot is about a young man that’s “slithering” between the paths of right and wrong. The story follows a 17-year-old named Oh, who was convinced to get tattoos by his friends after being released from juvenile detention. To his surprise, those tattoos gave him superpowers. “Oh, has to decide if he’ll double down on getting into trouble like his friends or if he’ll decide to use his new powers for good,” Malik explained. Malik says he plans to use Kickstarter as a pre-order system. “My comics are completely finished, and I have already sold copies at several conventions, so anyone that pledges to the campaign is really just pre-ordering the book,” He said.
He added that if the Kickstarter is fully funded, the money will go toward fulfilling orders first, and anything extra will go toward producing the actual series for the three one-shots. Malik hopes the fathers, sons, and families will check out his Kickstarter page, which can be found at: www.BlackToothPublishing.com/kickstarter “When I began coming up with the concept for BlackTooth, I really wanted to write stories that I thought my father would have wanted to read and stories that we could have enjoyed together,” Malik said.