Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Harlem Hellfighters  CSPAN  April 26, 2014 7:45pm-8:40pm EDT

7:45 pm
thank you for coming. i've got to say this is new for me because i've never done a reading of a comic book and i'm not really sure how to do that because what happens is someone comes up to the podium and says i'm going to read me the book what japan did to china again but its pictures, so do we just all say wow look at that? and here's another page so i think what i'm going to do instead is just talk about it, how it came to be.
7:46 pm
in 1917, the united states entered its first war of choice. what i mean is a war that we didn't have to fight and that we were not sure we wanted to fight because there was a very concrete goal which was a war of independence from britain or a war to hold them together. we were going to take it away from mexico. but whatever the reasons were, it was concrete. the first world war was of the serial ideal. this weird idea that was hatched by president woodrow wilson. it was to make us safe for democracy, to make the world safe for democracy. well, that sounds great. i mean, what a noble cause we are marching off to make the world safe for democracy. but what does it mean for
7:47 pm
soldiers who didn't have democracy at home? that is what this book is about. in 1917, the united states sent over a group of its own soldiers and sets them up to fail. they gave them an adequate training. initially they didn't even give them uniforms. in fact they didn't even give their rifles to train with because they were too busy giving away to the private rifle clubs so they could improve their marksmanship made so then they could go fight a war. so this unit actually have to write to the american government pretending to be private rifle clubs to get their guns. this unit was then sent to train in the deep south in a tiny little town called spartanburg which wasn't what he would call the haven of racial brotherhood. as a matter of fact they were sent to train two weeks after
7:48 pm
the worst, one of the worst rights in american history in houston where the soldiers actually rioted and a shot of the town and were then shot up themselves by the police and military authorities into the hold unit was disgraced. they were sent on accident when they wrote to "the new york times" and said do not send them here. there is going to be trouble. so this unit was sent to spartanburg and they were given orders don't fight back. this is the whole unit of them and when we say fighting back basically there's a difference betweethere is a differencebetwu from the stands and actually getting beaten up on the street which is what happened to these guys and they were ordered to do not fight back because they will
7:49 pm
blame everything on you and it's not going to be sent and we will be disgraced and they held back with superhuman discipline. and then they were sent to dig ditches and that was infuriating and they finally lobbied to be put into combat. during the first world war, the united states was kind of leads to the game and by this point they wanted to reinforcement. and he said no we are not just going to feed piecemeal. we will fight as an american unit under the american flag except for you guys come you can go. so they gave them to the french. so this unit, which had poor training, poor equipment had the
7:50 pm
right for their own rifles and was sent to the account where they were initially made to dig ditches and they were low enough to a foreign power they fought so valiantly they ended up coming home is one of the most decorated unit unit in the entie united states army. that's what i think. [applause] that was one of the worst things that was done to them as they were not able to march in the parade. that is one of the good things being a soldier is before you go off to the war because you may not come back all of you get to feel special and barge down the main street. they come and people wave their flags and make you feel good. while in new york city all of the guard units were put together in what was called the rainbow division and they were sent to fight and they got to
7:51 pm
march off to the war together except for these guys and i'm not kidding because they were told black is not a color of the rainbow. while they got their parade when they came home. they marched up fifth avenue and over a million new yorkers of every skin color turned out to welcome them home. the first american of any skin color was henry johnson. the entire unit. they spent more time in combat than any other unit. they never lost a foot of ground to capture. at the end of the war when they were mastering one push on paris at one point there was nothing before that in the sector except these guys. they stopped them. and one little side note, the band introduced a previously unknown.
7:52 pm
that was the story of the harlem hell fighters and a story that i've been trying to sell for 16 years. that is their story. here is mine. i'm 11-years-old. don't worry about the math. i'm getting to that. >> i'm 11-years-old and this man was in zimbabwe and he had learned about the research project so you know there was a unit that although the american army didn't want him when you were growing up in the good part of la that kind of injustice is not normal so that was pretty shocking for me.
7:53 pm
did that really happen? when i was 20-years-old i get my semester abroad in europe and had a great time. just like you do over here. except people talk differently and that is your semester abroad. [laughter] spinnaker i didn't do that. i went somewhere else. i went to the university of the islands in saint thomas and before you think i was just lying on the beach i was the reverse. i already vacationed there my whole life and i thought i've been coming here since i was two and i know absolutely nothing about these people. i know of resource and the happy smiles but nothing about the caribbean as a place.
7:54 pm
so i figured i'm going to use that time in the semester abroad to study history and political science and learn about him and i did. and i learned what it was like to be a minority for the first time. i got to go home afterwards, so it was like a racial relations. but it did make me feel for the first time what it feels like to wear a uniform i can't take off. some people like me, some people didn't. when i was down there i had a professor and amazing man and he was a throwback to the 60s.
7:55 pm
it was a crime that people committed was to bury their past accomplishments which blew me away because i thought my god that is true because you can break that down as an individual when you are trying to raise a child and they say i can't do it, the first thing that you say is you can do it because you have already done other things. i am a parent and when my 9-year-old says i can't and i say yes you can and he says you're right. well if my son had no accomplishments or if i had buried them he had no confiden confidence. that works on the macro group as well. that is huge to bury that kind of history. so i realized that it's a credible crime.
7:56 pm
i discovered some graves from 1917 to 1918 and i said were these the harlem hell fighters and he said to me who were they? he didn't know. that is how obscure it was. i don't know if you remember this come about the native buffalo soldiers and i thought it was tnt but i think spike lee corrected me it was hbo that had made the original. they came in within a year of each other and it was an eye-opener because there really is a moment, an opportunity for african american military movies. so, i decided to write a screenplay and there wasn't a
7:57 pm
lot back then. the first one from amazon was this big, and that was an original memoir so i read that and i got a recording of the original music from the band from james is the founding fathers some of the most amazing i have ever heard. and i got a documentary one of the last two hell fighters that were left alive so that was my research material and i read the script. nobody wanted it. nobody wanted it. when you're young and struggling you initially think it's my fault i'm a bad writer.
7:58 pm
i had one meeting that changed everything. a friend of ours said i will get the script to him and he said if i could make this in a heartbeat, i would. but i'm not going to get up and you shouldn't either and then what he said to me was they are making the rounds right now but yours is closest to the truth. let me say when you are dyslexic and you struggle in school and have to be tutored for hours a day and suddenly have them tell you you've done your homework i will not give up. so that's sort of kep that sorte lit. but finally after so many i realized i'm done with hollywood because it is based on economics. and finally i realized they are big and expensive.
7:59 pm
i was getting into comics at this point. i had written the hearts and minds so i was like okay and random house said what you want to do next and i think that they were hoping for the search for more money. [laughter] i said i want to do this and i think that they were alike jack, okay. let's give that to him. maybe he pulled right part two. so i think they gave me this as a sort of i don't know, just to keep me happy like they gave martin scorsese hoping he would make casino. that's what they were kind of hoping with me giving the soldier story and then we would get part two, three and four. ..
8:00 pm
8:01 pm
you don't have to include anything that's not important. when you write a comic book it's visual. you have to see everything so when you're writing something historical you have to do your homework just to make sure you don't screw up the background the hairstyles the clothing and all that stuff just your breaking even for getting it right. i was like the research assistant. we had i'm not kidding for feet of research material up looks
8:02 pm
stacked up of which one solid foot was nothing but uniforms of world war i, weapons of world war i, all that kind of stuff just to make sure we got it right. so it was quite an endeavor and i'm very proud of it so that is "the harlem hellfighters". i'm tired of hearing myself talk one guy fell asleep. don't wake him. no, not you sir. it was someone over here. how are you doing? i'm going to open the floor to questions. thank you. thank you. [applause] i think how we are supposed to do this as we are going to be like an old 70's talk show where someone is going to raise their hand and these two sprightly young lasses will run to you with a microphone so questions anyone? yes, sir.
8:03 pm
>> i hope you don't mind if i ask about. >> you can ask me about it. >> it's a successful movie but a lot of people that were really into the book were not happy with the movie. >> but it was so true to the book. >> that is what i was going to ask you. how did you feel about it and are you concerned if it does become a movie that the same thing will happen? >> excellent question. let me backtrack and say about world for c. i wrote a book called world war z the oral history of the zombie war and a movie came out with brad pitt making pancakes and it was the same title. [laughter] that's about it. was i involved with the movie? let me put it this way. i was more involved in getting president obama elected. [laughter] at least i phone banked for obama. i didn't phone bank for this
8:04 pm
movie. how do i feel about a? i don't feel much of anything because it was so different. when you are book writer you live in tear tear because you'll watch your characters say things they wouldn't say and do things they wouldn't do a the story get in a belated and completely eviscerated. i watched the credits roll which by the way what a title and then i got to watch 28 days later on crack which had nothing to do with my book and it was fine. i didn't invent jerry layne. he's making pancakes for his wife. hi honey i'm giving my my wonderful job for you because i love you. there are zombies and i have to go around the world and i have to check them in with you everyday. i think i wife wrote that part. it was a big summer lackluster movie. good for them. i didn't say hey that there which i didn't make up would never say that so it was so different that it allowed me to divorce myself. i worried that they were going to change my story with "the harlem hellfighters"it's not th.
8:05 pm
it's my story and i'm telling it. "world war z" came from me. this was a true story so i have chosen to tellit and because it is a true story there's limits to how much they can do. like with "world war z" they change my book and they had to deal with a lot of really angry book fans but they didn't have to deal with the families of the real people from the book which they would if they had to change stuff so there are limits.ts. plus do you guys know about the movie deal? here's the irony of my career. all those years i told you about getting rejected, screenplay you don't want it okay fine. i will write it as a book and enough of hollywood. hi it's hollywood.
8:06 pm
two weeks before the book came out i got a call from will smith's company. he wants to produce and he wants me to write the script. [applause] this is not to say the movie is going to get made. this is not going to say that the eventual movie is not going to star brad pitt. [laughter] and maybe a chinese guy because the chinese market is lucrative for hollywood so they may just stick a chinese guy in there just in case. brad pitt and anyway i don't know what the end result is going to be. who knows but what is nice is an at least i get the first shot and that's more than i could ever ask for. that is where we are right now. anyone else? yes, sir. >> i think you are to explain it but why in the hell did she get
8:07 pm
so deeply involved in this whole experience? i mean i don't even know any black folks who are into it like you are. i mean it's amazing to me. you know i'm really honoring you. >> thank you, thank you. sir i think i got into it initially because my dad was in world war ii. i'm 41 years old. i'm a gen-xer as they say in most parents of people my age were baby boomers so they grow up with stories like oh manned the drugs we did in the tv we watched in the unprotected sex we had and wow and by the way i spend all of your inheritance. that's that generation. i grew up with the world war ii parents so i grew up with my dad telling stories about combat in europe and about my mother having to ration and i remember she told me out mortified she was having to graduate in a short skirt eco-'s clothing was rationed so that america was interesting to me. i think history in general was
8:08 pm
very interesting to me because i'm on is trying to figure out the world because i never feel like i fit in so i'm eyes like how did we get here? i think it helps me to figure out oh here is where we came from and that helps me understand things. sometimes it's actually more of setting. i don't know if you guys know this but ted nugent called the president a subhuman. if you don't know history then you say ted nugent is an idiot. yes he is but that goes a lot deeper because to call someone a mongrel is to touch on something worse than hatred of black people. it's hatred of race mixing and i didn't know that growing up until i read about it and i realize the worst thing you can commit in this country was to have a black man impregnate a white woman. that was it. that was the worst thing that could ever happen so in ted nugent is doing that he's not just being a stupid rock star. he's calling upon a very age-old tradition of hatred.
8:09 pm
for me history is always important to know where you are and to know where you have come from. something like ted nugent tells me we have made tremendous progress in this country but we sure have a ways to go. yes, maam? >> this is a two-part question. >> did you say a two-part question? half of me can answer that. >> why did you decide to write it as a comic look knowing that would limit its appeal and as it have anything to do with being dyslexic? i and wondering about that. >> i will tell you that for three reasons. first of all, i decided to do it as a comic look like i said i didn't want to do it as a movie because you need a budget. this is actually somebody told
8:10 pm
me when i was in my 20s i took a screenwriting course at ucla after i spent my parents money in graduate school. here mom, more money that i took it because it was someone i admire. he created a show in the 1980s i loved. he was african-american it was a war show called tour of duty. he said to me and he wasn't talking about harlem hellfighters. he said look the bulk of actors in hollywood are young white males so if you make your character anything except a young white male you are limiting your casting possibilities. so it didn't take much for me to say my cast is black. so that's tough. if i do it as a comic book i don't have to worry about that. a comic look specifically i am very dyslexic and i know how hard it is to read. reading was so hard. i grew up in privilege. i will admit right now but all the money in the world could not
8:11 pm
help me read better. so i had to develop tools to try to learn how to read and how to study like my mom. she took all my school reading to the institute for the blind the braille institute and had them read on audio books book so i could listen to my schoolwork. otherwise i probably wouldn't have made it. comic books were important for me. i got to learn. just getting into the discipline of reading because reading is a discipline like playing a sport. you have to do it every day. you have to get used to it otherwise he gets intimidating. for me, it looks were great about sitting down and reading. another reason, third reason i did it was i never wanted the reader to forget what color these guys are because they think when you write a book some times you can lose yourself in it. i wanted it to be on every page because these guys never forgot what color they were. for a moment they forgot than they first got to france. they were treated as equals. this is not just what happened
8:12 pm
the book but have been a real life. the hellfighters did so well in combat that the american army eventually had to write to the french government a special memorandum to say listen stop praising them. you don't want to fill them up with these ideas and have him come home and it literally says do not praise him extensively especially in the presence of white men. do not shake hands with them. do not visit with them on anything but pure military matters. it literally said don't spoil them. so i wanted people to never forget who are reading this, yeah these guys were black every step of the way so that is why it is a comic. she gets to more questions. oh my god, run, quick. >> the purple heart exist then and did their own country give them commensurate honors? >> that's an excellent question.
8:13 pm
>> what percentage die? >> they had a heavy percentage in combat but i will say this about honoring them. henry johnson the first american to win the french -- he won it because one night in no-man's land he and private roberts were in the listening post. what used to happen in the first world war was guys would try to rate each other's trenches. they tried to jump on the listening post grabbed the guy and bring them back for information so johnson roberts in the middle of no-man's land in this barb wire hole and a platoon of germans jumps on them. grenades are going often they are firing their rifles. by the way their ratty old french rivals that they were given because they're american stuff was taken away. they only carried three bullets. roberts is hit in these down. johnson runs out of bullets and swings his rifle like a club? it over the guys head pulls out
8:14 pm
his knife jumps on them. he's stabbing them. he drives them off. these are germans. these are the kaiser's best and they run shrieking into the night. johnson becomes the hero overnight. he becomes the first public american hero and 100 years later he gets a medal from the united states government. i think it was 2003 or something like that. the bush of administration gave him the legion of merit. that's a big metal but i guarantee you had he been white he would have got the medal of honor and had he been white he would have got the medal of honor in 1918 and had he been white gary cooper would have played him instead of sergeant york and had this unit been white james cagney would not have done the fight in six 69th. he would have done the fight in 369 raid it's not just that they were black and had to conquer
8:15 pm
racism, it's the combat record. conquering racism is bad enough but then to succeed so spectacularly in a war that let's face it didn't create a lot of heroes. when i was a kid i saw the movie glory a great story but what they have to accomplish that at this unit been white it would have been that interesting a story. it would have been about white soldiers dying in a charge to take a fort that was never taken. these guys objectively regardless of race were stunning soldiers with a stunning record. and so that's one of the things that was so exciting. they were not awarded via the american government. the french government was so grateful for them. thank you for coming here and risking your lives on our soil. that's why the whole unit one. if you go to the harlem hellfighters armory there an active member of the new york
8:16 pm
national guard. they have been in every war. even now they are in the humanitarian aid in west africa. i met with their commanding officer. when you walk into their unit the ribbon is emblazoned on the entrance to remind them of the awesome reputation of this unit and their commanding officer now every day he says he types report to colonel hayward the first colonel from 1917. he knows like k i can't tarnish the reputation of this unit. this is the famous unit so that's more about the hellfighters. yes maam? >> i have a short question. how many harlem hellfighters were there in the unit? i was trying to visualize. >> it's a regiment with several hundred. they didn't stop the whole army.
8:17 pm
they stopped in their sectors so basically every sector there were different units so they were there with the french. they stopped them and that day they got out of the trenches and marched to relieve a french unit and then they advanced. they were the first unit of not just any country to reach the rhine river. just the achievements of his unit just goes on and on and on. one of the greatest african-american painters of the earliest 20th century was horace pippin. he was in the hellfighters. there's a beautiful book called i told my heart so i gave him a shout-out in "the harlem hellfighters." it's like who wasn't in this unit? back to james rizzi arrow imagine a country so horrifically racist as america 1917 to be a black celebrity and to be the toast of new york and every restaurant you walk into people stand up and applaud. to give that up, to go to the
8:18 pm
trenches. europe said i will go and when the shooting starts put down the baton and hand a machine gun. to give that up is like kanye going to iraq. can you imagine that? can you imagine usher being liked listen i will go to afghanistan when the shooting starts. i want to be on the front lines. justin bieber? i need to drive a tank. it's not going to happen. anyone else? >> i read a novel written from a think the renaissance period but the book is called mr. blackman and it talks about the involvement of black soldiers from the revolutionary war through i believe world war ii or maybe even vietnam. in that section on world war i he talks about the use of black regiment in no-man's land to test for gas.
8:19 pm
the troop was sent out in front of the white troops to test if the germans were using gas. i was wondering if that was accurate reflection of what did in fact happen and if you found evidence of that in your research? >> let me put it this way. when i was researching that did not involve the hellfighters because the hellfighters were the first black unit in combat. later more black units came around so much so that they organize to pull black divisions then there was the 92nd division and they were completely set up to fail. so i wouldn't be surprised. i definitely would not be surprised. one of the things about world war i which made it different from other wars were black soldier served it was the first war you had a large amount of black officers and that was scary for the white status quo. they had art accepted that black men could be brave and fight,
8:20 pm
kind of like a horse or a dog but to lead men in combat nothing takes more intelligence than that. under pressure when bullets are flying to lead men shows an extraordinary amount of not just intelligence but intelligence and courage. you know i'm a pretty smart guy but if you start shooting at me, i don't know. oh my pants. that's terrifying for the status quo because if these guys can lead men in combat what kind of leadership are they capable of when they get home? so that's why i created the character of lieutenant adams. i didn't want to just show how much fear there was a black officers. i also want to show the pressure. imagine you are an officer. to lead your men come it's hard enough to be an officer of any company to keep these guys alive
8:21 pm
but to be the vanguard of a new breed of leaders, college-educated to show what you can do. i have a scene where they are on the boat going over and everybody's getting seasick. everyone thinks he is seasick but he's flashing back to a scene from w.e.b. from w.e.b. two blog. he's saying you are the torchbearers of the future. who will carry the epitaph of hero and he over the side because he so terrified. i think that is something because in my research that is what i get coming back to was the officer class and how that was the very new thing. anyone else? yes, sir. >> after the war was over, what happened to him? >> they came home to the worst racial violence with that in this country. it's called the red summer of 1919.
8:22 pm
this was in the north. i'm going to throw in a personal story that my mother told me which blew my mind. my mom was a very famous actress. her name was anne bancroft. she won the academy award and the next year was her job to present it to the next one or who was sidney poitier. it is tradition, it was tradition back then for the women giving the oscar to the men with a little peck on the cheek. that is what you do. spencer tracy. it was the first time a white woman had kissed a black guy at the oscars. here's the funny part. she got hate now but the hate mail from the south was just condescending. it was like how could you do that? don't you know they are not like us wax but the hate mail from the north was death threats. the hate mail from the north was violent and angry. these guys even though they weren't from the south, there
8:23 pm
was a tremendous amount of racism from the north and this is what i try to talk about in "the harlem hellfighters." this is why there was such a horrific backlash against these guys because it was all well and good to be an abolitionist in the north where there were no black people but suddenly when millions of them are coming in and moving into neighborhoods and work in the stockers in chicago on the factors of new york suddenly white people got in touch with their inner racist and it was feral and. the north was a horrible horrible place in 1919. there were race riots everywhere. that is what happens. when i was a kid in tenth grade i learned the term reactionary weren't action happens. something social and political something happens but then there is a reaction. people react. action, the slaves are freed and the reaction. some some guys put on some
8:24 pm
sheets inform the client so that was the reaction to these amazing accomplishments of world war i was all this fear of hey, hey don't forget your place. the officer class and this is something to remember about the officers. this is a national guard unit. not a regular guard unit. the enlisted men are 18-year-old kids some as young as 16 but the officer class like in any national guard units are citizen soldiers. that's all they do but these guys were lawyers. napoleon bonaparte was a lawyer. these guys were all businessmen. noble sissel was a hell am -- harlem hellfighter. there's the picture of them in the trenches together and i have noble sissel in there. and all the music from you world
8:25 pm
war i noble sissel things and it's amazing to hear him. they went back to their jobs. you have your hand up. yes, sir. run, quick. >> earlier you mentioned how you were -- the script in hollywood and hollywood knocked on your door. i guess it's will smith's production company. my question is a is hollywood ready for a true gritty sort of carnage warfare movie from the black male perspective and the reason i'm asking that question is because you get this sort of grimy bloody warfare. you have 300 and this hypermasculine powerful white male in the battle of the war. i want to know how true are you going to be to the content of these hellfighters anwr.
8:26 pm
many times it's almost sort of this disney effect, this war and then you see these lack men smiling and laughing but we can't forget that it's war. give me your take on that. >> you can't see from here but this is what happens in the human body when it's hit by high explosive shell at close range. not the shrapnel, the sheer energy of explosion is absorbed by the water in the human body and the flesh is literally blown off the bones. will that end up in the movie? i have no idea. this is why i did it as this. this is a lesson i learned from this. the truth is in hollywood i don't know if hollywood is ready. ready or not here it comes. the thing is with this i can tell my story that i can show the rats. i can show the lice. i can show the gas. i can show the skeletons that
8:27 pm
are rotting out at a no-man's land that had been rotting out there for years. i can show horrible racist language that even made me cringe as i was writing it. i wish i could call up a friend from s&l, tracy morgan is max brooks. remember me? i feel really bad but can you write this for me? but i can show it all and that's what's important. i'm glad you brought that up because i've started to get criticism about this. people start to say i think brooks is going for shock effect. every piece of violence in this and i'm glad you brought this up, is based on actual research. nothing is gratuitous. i did not make up any act of violence in this comic. the flesh being blown off came from a passage i read in the book. i have a scene where young man his first day in the trenches he is like where the germans? over there. really? he got shot in the head. that really happened.
8:28 pm
everything in it is 100% wasted in research and its graphic. this is a horrible horrible war. and i know it's going to be disturbindisturbin g for some people and i know there are probably some older people like probably older men from a couple of generations ago that are not going to like the battle of henry johnson because i actually have one of my characters. remember i talked about why some characters are additional -- fictional? i have a fictional guide he was so burned up with hatred and his friends are like why are you here then? he goes why am i here? white people are killing other white people? glory hallelujah. i couldn't do that with a real guy so there may be stuff in there that's can't do virtual. i got in trouble when henry johnson to this amazing feat there was this racist bigot. back then we would call him a
8:29 pm
white american but horrible racist guy. he had a total change of heart and wrote this amazing article about henry johnson's feats of heroism where he said from this day date -- i can read something. let's read what ervin j. cobb, ervin s cobb wrote about henry johnson. let's find out. here we go. page 124. this came out in a newspaper in 1918. if ever proof was needed which is not that the color of a man's skin has nothing to do with the color of his soul this offered it in abundance. they were soldiers who wore their uniforms with smart pride who expressed a sincere heartfelt inclination to get a whack at their foe.
8:30 pm
as a result of what her black soldiers are going to do with this war a word that has been uttered billions of times sometimes in derision, sometimes in hate but which i am sure never fell on black years but it left behind a sting for the heart. it's going to have new meaning for all of us and hereafter it will merely be another way of spelling the word american. obviously that is controversial now in this politically correct culture. and hey whatever my feelings are about clinical correctness i'm going to be if i censor the past. that's how people talked and that is what it is. so it is out there vivid. horrible imagery, horrible words and horrible deeds. that's world war i.
8:31 pm
will that end up in hollywood? i don't know. like i said it may be an animated feature. for all i know it will be harold and kumar go to the trenches. anyone else? >> can you talk a bit about how u.n. kenyan white blocked out the words in and the pictures? >> yeah. when you write a comic book, i actually didn't meet kaine until six months ago. i worked with him for six years and i had never met him. when christian sin at avatar comics put us together. william is the go-between because he runs his own comic that company. i call them the last shoemaker in a world of shoe factories. the best thing you can do is to get in between us so we don't make each other crazy. i will write my script. i will send it to william.
8:32 pm
he will e-mail it to canaan. canaan will e-mail william and he will e-mail it to me. i will put notes in and that's how we do it. that's pretty much been how we communicate for the longest time. i didn't even meet him until six months ago at comic-con. we came to each other at the same time. what i found out was he's just like me. being dyslexic i had a problem in school and i was at the back of the class. canaan was in the back of the class trying. canaan at a teacher who said listen if you can just focus and pay attention for 20 minutes you can spend the rest of the class drawing. canaan was like all right, fair deal and that incentivized him. so lucky him. that is how we work together. than there was also the research material. i'm constantly -- the great thing about amazon is i plug in
8:33 pm
williams address and ship it right to him. or i can find things on line and e-mail him pictures. here is henry johnson and what canaan did first which i think was smart of him was to draw up the real people some sketches of how they looked initially so te. i can't think of anything harder than drawing a real person. that was my process of working with canaan white. anyone else? [inaudible] >> you or somebody's mother, aren't you? you mean the woman with her head high? >> if you have a say in who would be an actor in this movie can i strongly suggest the lead in luther -- he's wonderful.
8:34 pm
>> when i heard he was up for the role of james bond i was like come on. >> i don't go to violent movies but i can see him. >> so would my wife. >> did any of them emigrate to france? >> a few did afterwards. actually he wasn't in the hellfighters. he was a pilot. before there was the tuskegee airmen there was this guy and i had him in there for a little bit but when i met with him i told him more about it. he actually was in france for the first will war. he's an amazing story. the guy immigrates to france and then the war starts and he joins the french foreign leader and fights in the trenches and then he learns to fly. he wins all these metals in the war ends. he's a nightclub owner in paris. he then fights the nazis gets
8:35 pm
decorated again and gets back to america when francis occupies and the end of the war as an elevator operator in rockefeller center. that's the story of what they called the black swallow of death. as far as casting goes to great thing about this country as we have it galaxy of black stars and what i love about war movies is they are ensembles. i have always loved movies like the longest day. i know that guy and i know that guy. i don't want to get ahead of myself because this thing may not get made but how cool would that be to see every famous black star in america do a little rolled? it doesn't have to be a big role. just a walk-on or align. that would be awesome. trying to manage my expectations here. i have to write the first
8:36 pm
script. we can take one more. you have asked 15 questions. i just want to make sure someone else doesn't have anything else because if they don't you were on deck. anyone else? yes. she has one question left in 37 parts. [laughter] >> to questions. no. [laughter] did you play with g.i. joe as a kid and where can we find the music? >> to questions. guess i played with g.i. joe and there's ironically racial story in my g.i. joe comics. i did a rewrite of some g.i. joe's. it's like the day in the life of some of the bad guys and when i was a kid and being my friends used to play with g.i. joe the one kid in my group who had an action figure whose name was richard cade happened to be african-american. as a shout-out when i did a
8:37 pm
story firefly and i made him a black guy because i made them richer. in my mind he is richard. the internet went crazy. how could he do this? why doesn't he stayed true to the original character? first of all the original character they didn't know what race he was. he was white one issue and asia and the other issues. he was a vampire in one issue where he didn't show up on a monitor. they made him a sniper. second he wears a mask. literally i made this much of him black but that was enough. so yes that was g.i. joe. as far as the music i ordered it on amazon. it's a collect this is. you can give it on cd. i think it's noble sussel and that's how it's done and it's amazing stuff. rate and encouraged everyone to go on amazon and get james reese
8:38 pm
europe's music. i can talk about this all night but it's 16 years in the making. thank you everybody for coming out. i really appreciated. i know it's a beautiful night outside. i appreciate you being here in a bunker to listen to me talk. thank you. [applause]
8:39 pm
>> as they move into the middle class they adopt middle-class values and he is really upset by


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on