Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Harlem Hellfighters  CSPAN  May 26, 2014 10:33am-11:25am EDT

10:33 am
"after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words "in the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> next on booktv, max brooks recounts the first african-american regiment to fight in world war i. the 369th infantry regiment dubbed the harlem hellfighters. he spoke at the free library of pennsylvania for a little urn an hour. a little under an hour. [applause] >> thank you. can you guys hear me if i just talk like this? can you guys hear me in the back? you can't? all right, how's this? or is this not even -- oh, this is on. wow. thank you for coming. i've got to say, this is new for me because i've never done a
10:34 am
reading of a comic book, and i'm not really sure how to do that. because, you know, usually what happens with a regular book is someone comes up, you know, to a podium hike this and they say, you know, hello, i'm amy tan, ask i'm going to read you my new book, what japan did to china again. [laughter] but i'm not really sure what to do this time because it's pictures. so do we all just go like, wow, look at that. here's another page. wow. so i think what i'm going to do instead is just talk about it for a little while, talk about this project, sort of how it came to be, why i'm doing it, and then i'll take questions from you guys. in 1917 the united states entered its first war of choice. and what i mean by war of choice is a war that we didn't have to fight and a war we weren't sure
10:35 am
we wanted to fight. because every war up until then had had a very concrete goal which was a war of independence from britain or a war to hold the union together and free slaves, or we really liked california, and we were going to take it away from mexico. but whatever the reasons were, it was concrete whereas the first world war was the first world of an ethereal ideal, this weird idea. and this idea was hatched by president wood wilson. woodrow wilson. this was a war to make us safe for democracy, to make the world safe for dem can accuracy. well, that sounds -- democracy. well, that sounds great. what a noble cause, we're marching off to make the world safe for democracy. but what does it mean for soldiers who didn't have democracy at home? and that's what this book is about. in 1917 the united states sent
10:36 am
over a group of its own soldiers and set them up to fail. they gave them inadequate training. initially, they didn't even give them uniforms. in fact, they didn't even give them rifles to train with because they were too busy giving away rifles to private rifle clubs so, you know, civilians could improve their marksmanship so then they could go fight a war. so this unit actually had to write to the government to get their own guns. this unit was then sent to train in the deep south this a tiny little town called spartanburg which was not what you'd call a haven of racial brotherhood. as a matter of fact, they were sent to train in spartanburg two weeks after one of the worst race riots in american history in houston where black soldiers actually rioted and shot up the
10:37 am
town and were then shot up themselves by the white police and the white military authorities, and the whole unit was disgraced. two weeks later, another black unit is sent to south carolina on accident? especially when the mayor of spartanburg actually wrote to "the new york times" and said do not send them here, there's going to be trouble. so this unit was sent to spartanburg, and they were given orders, don't fight back. you guys all hear jackie robinson, you know, he's all famous for not fighting back. well, this is a whole unit of them. and when we say not fighting back, i mean, i'm not dissing jackie robinson, but basically, there's a huge difference between people yelling at you from the stands and actually getting beaten up on the street which is what happened to these guys. and they were specifically ordered, do not fight back. because if you do, the unit's not going to be sent overseas, and we're going to be disgraced. and they held pack -- held back
10:38 am
with superhuman discipline. and finally they got a chance to get overseas. and then they were sent to dig ditches. and that was infuriating. and they finally, finally lobbied to be put into combat. but here's the row. during the first world war, the united states was kind of late to the game. and by this point the british and french really wanted reinforcements and they kept saying to the americans, oh, good, you're in the war, come on, give us reenforcements, and general pershing said, no, these units will fight as an american unit under an american flag. except for the black guy withs, you guys can go. so they gave them to the french. so this unit which had poor training, poor equipment, had to write for their own rifles, was sent to a town where they were beaten up on the street, kicked
10:39 am
out of its own army and loaned out to a foreign power, what happened to them? they fought so value i can'tly -- valiantly in combat, they came home as one of the most deck crated -- decorated unit this is the entire united states army. [applause] that's what i think. that was the story of the harlem hellfighters. one of the worst things that was done to them was they weren't allowed to march off in a parade. because that's what happens with soldiers. that's one of the good things about being a soldier is before you go off to war, because some of you may not come back, all of you get to feel special. all i don't of you get to mar dn street -- march down main street. well, in new york city all the national guard units were put together in the rainbow division, and they all got to march off to war together except these guys. and i'm not kidding, pause they were told -- because they were told black is not a color of the rainbow.
10:40 am
well, they got their parade when they came home. over a million people turned out to welcome them home. the first american of any skin color to win the french award was one of these guys, henry johnson. the entire unit won the award. they spent more time in combat than any other american unit. they never lost a foot of ground, they never lost a man to capture. at the end of the war when the germans were massing for one big push on paris, at one point there was nothing between paris and the germans in the sector except these guys. they stopped the kaiser's best. and one little side note, their regimental band introduced a previously unknown form of music to the europeans called jazz. [laughter] that is the story of the harlem hellfighters. and that's a story i've literally been trying to tell for 16 years. that's their story. here's mine.
10:41 am
i'm 11 years old, and don't worry about the math. i'm getting to that. i've been trying to do it for 16 years, but i've known it for 30 years. i'm 11 years old, there was a man working for my parents who grew up in zimm zimbabwe. he was studying at ucla, and he had learned about marcus daughter i have, he was doing a research project. so he told me about the harlem hellfighters. he said there was a unit of black americans that went off to fight, and they were given to the french, became one of the most deck crated units in the entire u.s. army although the american army didn't even want them. now, when you're a white kid growing up in the good part of l.a., that kind of injustice is not normal. so that was pretty shocking for me. you know, i'm 11 years old on the good side of l.a. did that really happen? [laughter] what? really in oh, my goodness. so i was constantly interested in this. and i kept studying about the
10:42 am
hellfighters as much as i could. when i was 20 years old, i did my semester abroad at college. some of you know what happens, you go to college, you have a great time, and then you do a semester abroad, and you have a great time and get drunk and throw up over there. just like you do over here. except people talk differently. ask that's pretty much your semester abroad. and you go, wow, these buildings are old. [laughter] i did not do that. i went somewhere else. i went to the university of the virgin islands in st. thomas. and before you think i was just lying on the beach, no, it was the reverse. see, i had already vacationed there my whole life, and i realized, wow, i'm 20 years old, and i know absolutely nothing about these people. i know the beach, i know the resort, i know the happy smiles, i know nothing about the caribbean as a lace. so i figured i'm going to use that time, the semester abroad, to go down there and study political science and learn about them. and i did. and i learned what it was like to be a racial minority for the
10:43 am
first time. and before we get all highing and mighty, let's take sure i was -- it was a semester, right? i got to go home afterwards. so it was like a little grain of rice in a giant buffet of racial relations. but it did make me feel for the first time what it feels like to wear a uniform that i can't take off and to be prejudged by that uniform no matter who i am, you know? some people back home, some people liked me, some people didn't. lots at points. but that was because of me and me opening my mouth, not because of this. when i was down there, i had a professor, an amazing man, his name was dr. wayne edge, and he was a throwback to the '60s. you guys remember the character nat x? chris rock's character on saturday night live? that was him. passionate, angry. he said the great crime white people in america committed against black people was to bury
10:44 am
their past accomplishments which blew me away. i thought, oh, my god, that's really true. when you're trying to raise a child and a child doesn't have confidence and says i can't do it, the first thing you say is you can do it because you've already done other things. i say this now because i'm a parent and i actually have to do this, when my 9-year-old says i can't do it, yes, you can because you've done this, this and this and my son goes, oh, you're right. if my son had no accomplish bements or if i had buried them, he'd have in confidence. and i was like, oh, my god, that works on a macro group as well. that's huge to bury that kind of history. so i realized, wow, that's an incredible crime. i mean, you know, like i said, white guy, sheltered life, i had a lot to learn. when i was in the virgin islands, i discovered some graves from 1917, 1918, and i asked my professor, i said is
10:45 am
this, were these the harlem hellfighters? and this professor who had said to me all about history said, who were they? he didn't know. that's how obscure it was. flash forward to the 1990s. i don't know if you guys remember this, tnt made buffalo soldiers, danny glover. and i thought it was tnt, but i think spike lee just corrected me, it was hbo that had made the original tuskegee airmen, not redtails. the original with laurence fishburne, cuba gooding jr. for me it was an eye opener because i thought, wow, there really is a moment, an opportunity for african-american military movies. so i decided to research and write a screenplay, the harlem hellfighters. and there wasn't a lot back then. you know, the first book i bought off a new web site called amazon.com was, like, this big. but then i found this amazing
10:46 am
book called from harlem to the rhine, and that wasó1&cbz7qr anl memoir of a guy who actually fought. so i read that. i got the, a cd recording of the original music from the regimental band from james reese europe, some of the most amazing jazz lyrics identify ever heard. war -- i've ever heard. war lyrics, poetry. and i also got a documentary from the 1970s called men in bronze, i think one of the last two hellfighters left alive. so that was sort of my core research material. and i went -- i wrote the script, i went to tnt. no. nobody wanted it. nobody wanted it. years and years. and when you're young and you're struggling, you initially blame yourself. you initially think, well, it's my fault, i'm a bad writer, okay. and i had one meeting that changed everything with louisiana very burton. a friend of ours said, hey, i'll get the script to him.
10:47 am
he called me and said if i could make this in a heartbeat, i would. i don't have the power to direct it, but i'm not going to give up, and you shouldn't either. then what he said to me was there's a few harlem hellfighter scripts making the rounds right now, but yours comes close to the truth. well, let me backtrack and say that when you're a dyslexic kid and you struggle in school and you have to be tutored for hours a day just to pull off a c and to suddenly have jordy la forge tell you you've done your homework? [laughter] give up. so that sort of kept my fire lit. but finally after so many rejections from hollywood, i realized i'm done with hollywood because hollywood is based on economics. and finally i realized war movies are big and they're expensive, okay. nobody wants to make this movie, fine. i was getting into comics at this point. i had written zombie survival guide and i had written g.i. joe
10:48 am
hearts and minds, so i was like, okay, random house said what do you want to do next and and i think they were hoping for world war z ii, and i said i want to do this. they were like, yeah, okay. let's give it to him. maybe he'll write word war z ii. they gave me this thing as, i don't know, just to keep me happy, kind of like how they gave martin scorsese -- [inaudible] hoping he'd make casino. all right, give him his black world war what soldier story. so by that point i'd done a lot more research, and i had learned not just about them, but also about the world in which they lived in, the greater war and the greater culture, the great migration. what was at stake. and i sat down with this amazing artist, kay man white -- canaan
10:49 am
white, and six years later we came out with this.
10:50 am
>> you have to do your homework just to make sure you don't screw up the background, the hair styles, the clothes, all that stuff just so you're breaking even, just so you're getting it right. i was like canaan's research assistant. i had to send him all this stuff. we had, i'm not kidding, four feet of research material, of books stacked up of which one solid foot was nothing but uniforms of world war i, weapons of world war i, pictures from harlem, all that kind of stuff just to make sure we got it right.
10:51 am
so it was, 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, as normal. i put one poor guy to sleep. [laughter] don't wake him. so i'm going to open -- no, not you, sir. no. someone over here. how you doing? hey. yea. [laughter] so i'm going to open the floor to questions. here's how we're going to work this, apparently -- oh, thank you. [applause] thank you. i think how we're supposed to do this is we're going to be like an old '70s 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. >> i hope you don't mind if i also ask you about world war z. >> you can ask me about it. >> you know, a successful movie, but a lot of people who were
10:52 am
really into the book were not happy with the movie, you know? >> they weren't? [laughter] but it was so true to the book. >> and that's what i was going to ask you, did you have anything to do with the adaptation? and are you at all concerned if this eventually does become a movie that the same thing will happen? >> excellent question. let me backtrack and say, okay, for those of you don't know, wrote a book called world war z, zombie war, and a movie came out with brad pitt making pancakes, and it was the same title. [laughter] that's a about it. was i involved in the movie? let me put it this way, i was more involved this getting president obama elected. [laughter] literally. because at least i phone banked for obama. i didn't phone bank for this movie. how do i feel about it? i don't feel much of anything because it was so different. you know, when you're a book writer, you live in terror of when they adapt your movie because you're going to watch your characters say things they wouldn't say, watch your story
10:53 am
get manipulated and just completely eviscerated. i didn't watch that at all. 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 absolutely nothing to do with my book, and it was fine. i don't care what they do with jerry lane. i didn't want invent jerry lane, he wants to be there making pancakes for his wife. oh, zombies, i have to go around the world. it was a wig summer block -- big summer blockbuster movie. i didn't say, hey, that character which i didn't make up would never say that. so it was so different, it allowed me to divorce myself. am i worried or the that their going to change -- they're going to change my story is harlem hellfighters? no, and you know why? it's not my story. it's their story. i'm just telling it. and that's a big difference, see? world war z came from me. this is a true story, so i've
10:54 am
just chosen to tell it. and because be it is a true story, limits to how much they can do. you know what i mean? like with world war z yeah, they changed my book, and they had to deal with a lot of 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 changed stuff. so there's limits. 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? here, screenplay, no, okay, fine, i'm going to write it as a book, enough with hollywood. [laughter] hi, it's hollywood. two weeks before this book came out i got a call from will smith's company. he wants me to produce it, and he wants me to write the script. [applause] so this is not to say the
10:55 am
movie's going to get made. this is not to say that the eventual movie if it does get made is not going to star brad pitt. [laughter] and maybe a chinese guy because the chinese market is very lucrative for hollywood, so they may just stick a chinese guy in there just in case. you know, brad pitt and yao -- anyway. i don't know what the end result's going to be. who knows. but what's nice is at least i get the first shot. and that's more than i could ever ask for. or so that's where we are right now. anyone else? yes, sir. >> i think you already explained it, but why the hell did you get so deeply involved in this whole experience? i mean, i don't even know any black folks who are into it like you are. [laughter] i mean, it's amazing to me. >> oh, thank you. >> and, you know, i'm really honoring you, i'm not putting
10:56 am
you down. [applause] >> thank you. so i think i got into it initially because my dad was in world war ii. you know, i'm 41 years old, i'm a gen-xer, and most parents of people my age were baby boomers so they did, oh, the drugs we did and the unprotected sex we had, wow, and by the way with, i spent -- you know, that generation. i grew up with world war ii parents, so i group up with my -- grew up with my dad telling stories about combat in europe and about my mother having to ration. and i remember how mortified she was having to graduate in a short skirt because clothing was rationed and the tin cans they had to press out. so that kind of america was interesting to me. and i think history in general was very interesting to me because it's -- i'm always trying to figure out the world. i'm always -- because i never feel like i fit in, so i'm always like how did we get here? it helps me to figure out, oh,
10:57 am
here's where we came from. and that helps me understand things. sometimes it's actually more upsetting. like i don't know if you guys know it, but ted nugent just called the president a subhuman mongrel. if you don't know history, you'd think ted nugent is an idiot. [laughter] yes, he is, but that goes a lot deeper because to call someone a mongrel is to touch on something a lot worse than hatred of black people, it's hatred of race mixing. oh, my god, the worst sin you could 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 he's not just being a stupid rock star, he's calling upon a very age-old tradition of hatred. so for me, history is -- it's always important sort of to know where you are and to know where you've come from. and something like ted nugent tells me, yeah, we've made tremendous progress in this country, but we sure have a ways
10:58 am
to go. yes, ma'am. >> this is a two-part question. >> a two-part -- did you say a two-part or a jew-part -- [laughter] i mean, half of me can answer that. okay, yeah. [laughter] >> why did you decide to write it as a comic book knowing that that would limit its appeal, and does it have anything to do with being dyslexic? i'm wondering about how -- >> three reasons. i'll tell you that for three reasons. first of all, first of all, i decided to do it as a comic book -- well, like we said before, i didn't want to do it anymore as a movie because you need a budget x. this is actually, somebody told me when i was in my 20s, i took a screen writing course at ucla after i had spent all my parents' money on graduate school. here, mom, more money. but i took it because it was
10:59 am
someone i really admired. he was african-american and created a war show called "tour of duty," and i used to love that show as a kid. he said to me, he was just saying to all of us as a general rule, he said, you know, look, the bulk of actors this hollywood are young, white males. so if you make your character anything except a young, white male, you are limiting your casting possibilityings. so i -- possibilities. so it didn't take much for me to say, oh, my whole cast is black. so that's tough. but if i do it as a comic book, i don't have to worry about that. now, a comic book specifically visually for two reasons, yeah, i am very dyslexic. i grew up in privilege, i'll admit it right now. but all the money in the world couldn't help me read better. so i had to develop tools to try to learn how to read, how to study. like my mom, she took all my school reading to the institute for the blind, the braille institute, had 'em read on audio
11:00 am
book so i could listen to my school work, other side i -- otherwise i probably wouldn't have made it. ..
11:01 am
not praise of them extensively especially in the presence of white men. do not shake hands with them or visit with them on anything and it literally said don't spoil them. so, i wanted people to never forget who are reading this these guys are every step of the way. it's in the comic. she gets two more questions. run, quick. pass the baton. >> did the purple heart exist and did their own country give them commensurate honor and what percentage died? >> what percentage died in combat? they had a heavy percentage, but i will say this about honoring them.
11:02 am
henry johnson, the first american to win the squad grittier he wanted one night out of no man's land key and a private or in a listing post, and what used to have been in the world war is they would try to rate each other's trenches, bring it back in the torture him for information. so johnson and roberts are in the middle of no man's land and a whole platoon of germans jumps on them. grenades are going off and they are fighting -- the old french rifles with the word given they were given these old worn-out french rifles and only carried three bullets. so he is hit and runs out of bullets and swings it like a club over his head, jumps on them, stripping them, he drives them off. these are germans. and they've gone into the night.
11:03 am
johnson become 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 they gave him the legion of merit. that's a big metal. but i guarantee had he been white he would have gotten a medal of honor and he would have gotten a medal of honor in 1980 team. gary cooper would have played him instead of the search and aunt had this unit been white james wouldn't have done the fighting and this is another thing that grabs me about the unit. it's the combat record. conquering racism was bad enough but then to succeed so spectacularly in the war that doesn't create a lot of heroes.
11:04 am
when i was a kid i saw the movie about the 54th massachusetts and a great story about what they had to accomplish that had the unit been white it wouldn't have been an interesting story. it would have been about soldiers dying to take the force that was never taken. these guys objectively regardless of the race were stunning soldiers with a stunning record so that's one of the things i was so exciting. they were not awarded by the government. the french government was so grateful for them. thank you for coming and risking your lives on our soil. if you go to the harlem hellfighters armory they are still there. they are an active member of the guard can't they've been in every war and even now they are doing humanitarian aid and not with their commanding officer. when you walk into their internet, the ribbon for the
11:05 am
quad is on the entrance to remind them of the awesome representation of the unit and the commanding officer now every day he types up a report to the kernel, the first kernel from 1917 because he knows i can't tarnish the representation of the unit. so that is a little bit more about the hellfighters. >> i have a short question. how many were there in the units because when i try to visualize them stopping -- >> it's a regiment of several hundred -- they didn't stop the whole army they stopped in their sector so every sector there were different units so they were there with the french and then that day they got out of the trenches and moved to
11:06 am
relieve the french unit and they advanced not just of any color or country to reach the river so the achievement goes on and on. one of the greatest painters in the early 20th century was in the hellfighters. there is a beautiful book i give them a shout out and back to james. imagine in a country so racist as america 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 because europe said i will go and i will have the band but when the shooting starts i head up a machine gun.
11:07 am
that's like kanye going to iraq. it's like usher going to afghanistan and i want to be on the front lines. justin bieber, listen i need to drive a tank. it's not going to have been. >> so, i read a novel written again from the renaissance period. anyway the book is called mr. blackman into talks about the involvement of black soldiers from the revolutionary war through i believe world war ii or even vietnam. in that section he talks about the use of the black regiments in no man's land to test for gas. the troupe was sent out in front of the white troops to test if the germans were using gas and i wondered if that was accurate of
11:08 am
what to did in fact happen and if you found any evidence of that in your research. a >> when i was researching that didn't involve. later as the war progressed and they came around so much so that they organized the division that fought in the 93rd division but then there was the 92nd and they were completely set up to fail so i wouldn't be surprised. one of the things about world war i that made it different is the first time you had large amounts of black officers into that was scary for the white status quo because they had already accepted that a black man could be brave and fight. but to lead in combat nothing takes more intelligence than that when the bullets are flying
11:09 am
it shows an extraordinary amount of not just intelligence but intelligence and courage because i'm a pretty smart guy but if you start shooting at me, i don't know. to be calm you go here and you go here that's terrifying because if they can lead men in combat what kind of leadership are they capable of when they get home. i didn't want to just show how much fear there was but i wanted to show the pressure. it's hard not to be an officer of any color to keep them alive but to be the vanguard of the leaders into the college-educated to show what you can do. i have a scene you are the
11:10 am
torchbearers of the future. who will carry the hero. that's what it kept coming back to is the officer class. >> they are all from the north. i'm going to tell you a story that my mother told me that blew my mind.
11:11 am
it was her job to present it to the next winner. now it is tradition and it was tradition back then for the woman giving the oscar here's the funny part. it was like how could you do that, don't you know they are not like us but it was death threats. it was violent and angry. there's a tremendous amount of racism and this is what i try to talk about a little bit is this is the time of the great migration by there was a
11:12 am
horrific backlash against these guys because it was all well and done to be in our ocea abolitiot and when they are working in the stockyards in chicago from a suddenly they get in touch with their inner and it was very wa want. so the north was a horrible, horrible place. there were riots everywhere. that's what happens. when i was a kid in tenth grade i learned of this reactionary where an action happened, something social, political, but then there was a reaction. people react. the reaction. so that was the reaction to these amazing accomplishments of world war i was over this fear of don't forget your place.
11:13 am
the officer class this as a national guard unit not a regular army unit. at the end listed men are just 18-year-old kids. but the officer class like in any national guard unit are citizen soldiers. professional soldiers that's all they do but these guys were lawyers. they were all businessmen. there is a picture of jim in the trenches together. and in his music from world war i, he sings and it's amazing to hear him. so they went back to their jobs. i'm sorry. you had your hand up.
11:14 am
you have to run. quick. >> you mentioned how you were shopping the script in hollywood and now sort of hollywood knocks on your door. i guess it is a will smith production company. my question is how come is hollywood ready for that sort of carnage warfare movie from the perspective? and the reason i'm asking that question is because you get this sort of bloody warfare you have 300 it's a hyper masculine sort of powerful white male in the battle of the war and i want to know how true are you going to be to the content in this war and then you see these black men
11:15 am
sort of smiling and laughing but we can't forget that it's a war so give me your take on that. >> you can see from here that this is what happens to the human body. it's the energy of the explosion is absorbed by the water in the human body and the flush is literally blown off the bones. will that have been in the movie clicks i have no idea. and this is why i did it. this is the lesson i learned from this because the truth is in hollywood, i don't know i don't know if hollywood is ready but ready or not here it comes. and the thing is with this i can tell my story. i can show the life come a comme gas skeletons that are rotting out in no man's land for years. i can show horrible racist language that even made me
11:16 am
cringe as i was writing it. it max brooks, remember me? i feel bad but can you write this for me? but i can show it all and that's what's important and i'm glad you brought that up because i started to get criticism about this and people said i think that he's going for the shock effect. know every piece of violence and i'm glad you brought this up it is based on actual research. nothing is gratuitous. i didn't speak up and he acts in this comic book everything is the sum everything i read. that came from a passage in the book. i have a scene where a young man in his first day on the trenches they get shot in the head. that really happened at the imperial war museum. so everything is 100% based on research. and it is graphic because this is a horrible, horrible war.
11:17 am
i know it's going to be disturbing for some people, and i know there's 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, and actually having one of my characters remember i talked about by some characters are fictional because they can say things -- i wouldn't want to offend their families but he is so burned up with hatred and he said why am i here? i couldn't do that with a real guy but it's in there so there's a lot of stuff that may be controversial. i got in trouble because henry johnson, when he had done this, there was a racist southern bigot. he had a total change of heart and he wrote this amazing article about henry thompson.
11:18 am
let's read what they actually wrote about henry johnson. let's find out. here we go. page 124. if proof was needed which it is not that the color of a man's skin has nothing to do with the color of his soul committed is offered in abundance. they were soldiers that were there uniforms with a smart pride who expressed a sincere heartfelt inclination to get a whack at so. what they are going to do in this war that has been under billions of times sometimes in duration, sometimes in hate, but
11:19 am
which i'm sure never fell on black ears bublack ears but it a sting for the heart is going to have new meaning for all of us. and here after nigger will merely be another word of spelling the word american. of the word american. welcome obviously that's controversial now. in this politically correct culture. and hey, you know, whatever my feelings are about political correctness i'm going to be damned if i censor the past. that's how people talked and that's what it is, so it is out there, it's addictive. david. portable imagery in the words. that's world war i. will that ended in hollywood? i don't know. like i said, if need be an animated feature for all i know
11:20 am
it will be harold and kumar go to the trenches. a >> can you talk about how you'd walked out of the words pictures? >> yes i will say when you write a comic book -- i actually didn't nee need canon until six months ago. i worked with him for six years and never meant him. we worked through e-mail. now, william is like the go-between because he runs his own comic book company. i called him the last shoemaker in shoe factories. he learned writers and artists are crazy and the best thing to do is to get in between us so we don't think each other crazy. so i will write my script, e-mail it to william and he will e-mail it to canon and then he e will e-mail william back some features and i will put some notes and that's how we would do
11:21 am
it and that's pretty much been how we communicated for the longest time. like i said i didn't even meet him until six months ago near comicon. what i found out is that he is just like me being dyslexic. i was always in the back of the class writing short stories and he was in the back drawing pictures. he was lucky because he had the teacher said to him listen if you can just focus and pay attention for 20 minutes, you can spend the rest of the class drawing. and he was like alright, fair deal and that incentivized him so lucky him. that's how we worked together. and then there was also, you know, the research material. like i bought a bunch of books into the great thing about amazon is i can plug in his address and ship it writes to him. or i can find things online and e-mail and pictures. here's henry johnson. what he did first i was smart of
11:22 am
him is to draw the real people just some sketches of how they looked initially, some sort of testing out the pictures. because i can think of anything harder than drawing a real person. i can't draw a stick figure so that was my process of working with him. anyone else? [inaudible] >> she has a suggestion. you are somebody's mother aren't you? [inaudible] this is my daughter. >> you mean the one with her head hiding? [laughter] >> if you have a say in who is going to be an actor can i strongly suggest the lead for luther? [inaudible] he's wonderful. >> when i heard he was up for the role of james bond -- >> if you could get him, i don't
11:23 am
go to violent movies but i would go to see him. >> the other thing is did any of them emigrated to france after words? >> yes a couple of them did afterwards. he wasn't in the hell fighters come he was a pilot. i had him in there for a little bit about when i met with him he told me more about him so i put him in its more. he was in france in the first world war. then he learns to fly into wins all these medals and then he fights cannot see his come gets decorated again and then comes back to america when france gets occupied and he ended the war as an elevator operator in rockefeller center.
11:24 am
so that is the black swallow up death. the great thing about well i should just save this country because they do english, but we have a galaxy of black stars and what i love about war movies if they are unstoppable. movies like the longest day where you're like i know that guy and i know that guy. i don't want to get ahead of myself because like i said we don't know if this will get made, but how cool would that be tbe tosee every famous black stn america do a little role exit doesn't even have to be big, just a walk on the line i could swear that. that would be awesome. i try to manage here. i have to write the first script. we can take one more. you've asked 15 questions. just want to make sure someone doesn't have anything else because if they don t

259 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on