BHM Spotlight: An Interview With Writer Sheldon Allen
Feb 09, 2018
by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
In celebration of Black History Month, PREVIEWSworld asked multiple creators within the comics industry to talk about their personal history with Black History Month and their personal history with comics. In our next installment in this series, we talk with Sheldon Allen. Sheldon previously worked on Marvel's Spider-Man Unlimited and is working on a new series titled CRUCIFIED!
Give us the rundown on a project you're currently working on and excited about.
My creator-owned book CRUCIFIED is nearing completion and getting ready to launch. It’s about the nation’s reaction to a mysterious Messianic figure who may or may not be Jesus Christ reincarnated. Trust me, if you think you know where the book is going based off of that description, give me two issues to prove you wrong. Guaranteed you won’t see what’s coming next.
I’m also starting production on another creator-owned book called SLAYED, but it’s a little too early to talk about the concept behind that one. I can tell you I feel pretty confident in saying without a hint of hyperbole or embellishment that there’s nothing like it on the stands (or anyone else for that matter).
When did you become interested in comics?
When I was but a wee lad, they had these Marvel Comic trading cards that the kids in my school used to traffic in the lunchroom and YMCA aftercare. Of course, the rich kids took the fun out of it all since they’d just purchase entire boxes and have the whole collection in a weekend, but I digress.
Most of the kids were into the cards mainly for the art, but my older brother and I being the geeks that we were actually read the descriptions on the back of the cards and the interest sparked from there. Eventually, we managed to convince our mom to drop us off at the local comic book shop. Up until that point, the only place we read or purchased comics were from spinner racks at gas stations or Waldenbooks (really dating myself with that one), so as you can imagine, walking into that comic shop for the first time was revelatory. I swear I heard angels hymning soon as I set foot inside.
How was Black History Month introduced to you growing up?
From Kindergarten to Second Grade, I was one of the handful of black students at my elementary school in Miami-Springs, but the few black teachers at the school would put on an annual program every year honoring Black History Month. Other classes would take part by decorating their doors and rooms with famous black figures. Looking back at it now it’s kind of refreshing to think that even though this was a predominantly white school, Black History Month was feverishly celebrated.
Does that line up with your take on Black History Month in 2018?
I wish I could say it did. Working in the school system I can tell you that standardized testing – especially in the state of Florida – has caused everything to be tremendously scaled back. It's not that Black History Month isn’t recognized any longer, it’s just been relegated to a few cursory minutes on the morning announcements in most schools. There’s no depth or deeper exploration to the important figures that helped shape not just Black History, but American History. It’s also, unfortunately, become too celebrity-centric for my tastes, but hey, something is better than nothing I guess.
If you could work on any comic next, what would it be?
Besides my own? Spidey and Superman spring to mind at first, but truthfully, I’m a little weird in my tastes these days and I’d love to take a crack at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Don’t ask me why. Just know that I’d kill it (in a good way).
What comics are you reading right now?
I’m slowly working my way back into the game, so I’m afraid my answers are going to be somewhat predictable and unexciting, but Saga is my go-to book. Matter of fact, I hate Brian K. Vaughn. Every time I reach the end of one of his comics, I inevitably throw it down in frustration and tell myself I’ll never be this good.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the Consumer Marketing Digital editor for PREVIEWSworld.com and the DCD family of sites. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, and the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics.