Tag Archives: psycho therapy

The Hero Plot Trial and BlackGuard: Volume 1

17 May 13
Jerrod Smith
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We haven’t kept up with this blog much in the past. From now on, Will and I are going to try to post on here at least weekly. Overall, we’re trying to be more communicative with our audience. That includes Facebook and Twitter also.

So we wrapped up “BlackGuard vs. The Goonz” about two months ago. Since then, we’ve posted a few promotional images for the next chapter of BlackGuard, currently titled “The Hero Plot Trial”. The ORIGINAL plan was to start that chapter this month. Unfortunately, my laptop died about two weeks ago. I did buy a new one, but I didn’t recover the files from my old hard drive until about two days ago, so we’re now a few weeks behind schedule. I’ll try to get the script finished as soon as possible, but you probably shouldn’t expect The Hero Plot Trial to begin until June. Sorry.

We have been keeping busy in the meantime, though. Will, of course has been doing character designs and promo art. When not working on the script, I’ve spent some time getting us registered as a business. Along with that, I’ve been trying to write up a simple business plan. That process is moving along at a snail’s pace. Trying to switch my mind over from comic script writing to business plan writing isn’t easy.

One of the primary reasons for needing the business plan is because we’re planning on releasing BlackGuard: Volume 1 sometime this year. Volume 1 will include the first three story arcs of BlackGuard, “Monkey See… Monkey Free?!”, “Psycho Therapy”, and “BlackGuard vs. The Goonz”. Basically, everything we’ve done so far. We want to print at least 500 copies of this, preferably hardbound. I’ve been looking into different ways to fund this. Obviously, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are my first two choices, but I think we should also have a backup plan. That’s where the business plan comes in. We could apply for a small business plan or bank loan, but in order to be considered for those, you need to have a written plan for your business.

I’ll try to post another blog on Wednesday with more information on things to come.

Go with God.

– Jerrod

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 14: Afia Melanin and O.D.A.N.

19 Sep 12
Jerrod Smith
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2 comments

This next pairing begets the most animosity, next to the Jonnie/Odan rivalry. The two most confrontational members of The BlackGuard: Odan and Afia.

I know I said in a previous entry that Jonnie was the most prone towards acts of violence alongside Afia, and I still stand by that, but Odan is still the only team member that matches Afia in confrontational nature. Odan needs not be physical in order to achieve this. As he has shown numerous times, he is verbally aggressive. He and Afia share the traits of tenacity and impudence. In other words, they have no problem telling others (specifically, each other) what’s on their minds.

Afia’s aversion to Odan stems from the fact that he embodies an entire culture which she abhors. Odan’s personality is a product of the influence of gangster rap music. Though most rappers tend to take a great deal of pride in being black MEN, little respect is paid in this culture to the black WOMEN. Odan reflects this attitude as he sees nothing wrong with using the b-word in reference to females. I think that alone has the potential to bring Afia and Odan to fisticuffs. Unfortunately, there are more problems between them.

As I mentioned, Odan is heavily influenced by a community that thinks little of the opposite gender. This misogynistic attitude makes it difficult for him to accept that a female is far stronger than him, which Afia clearly is. To counter the feeling of insecurity he has around Afia, Odan resorts to openly questioning her gender. I don’t think he actually believes his own accusations, but that doesn’t stop him from making them.

Also, I notice that when it comes to Jonnie, Odan does not hesitate to issue or accept a challenge. The two have threatened to fight each other twice already today. This is not the case with Afia. I’m not saying Odan is scared of Afia, but I do think he fears the damage a loss to her would do to his pride. In the case of battling Jonnie, Odan is confidant he would be victorious, but I suspect there may be a part of Odan that wonders whether he could defeat Afia. Of course, he’ll never admit that doubt exists.

Odan comes from a dog-eat-dog world, where only the strong survive and compassion is considered a weakness. Naturally, Odan has grown up learning to look out for only himself. In contrast, Afia, though clearly not a team player, considers herself to be a champion of her people. She fights not only for herself, but for an entire race (at least in her eyes). Afia sees Odan as expendable to the black race and an embarrassment to the the term AFRICAN American. Odan sees Afia as self-righteous and delusional.

Excuse me if this is overkill, but I just wanted to throw in one more difference I noticed when it comes to these two: their views on battle. Afia is very straight-forward when it comes to fighting. She prefers to face her opponent directly, look them in the eyes, and fight until there is a victor. Sneak attacks and retreating are not even options for her. Odan, though, is a gangster and a ninja. Those two tactics are his bread and butter. Naturally, Afia and Odan do not agree on battlefield tactics.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Staples and Doome

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 13: Eli Mercer and Sequoia

06 Sep 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

I guess every “family” must have a mother figure and a father figure. This leads me to Eli Mercer and Sequoia.

Naturally, I see these two as the parents of the team because they are the two most responsible and level-headed. It has nothing to do with their relationship with one another. After all, Eli is old enough to be Sequoia’s father (or grandfather).

I imagine Sequoia, like many people her age, learned about Eli (as The BlackFist) through history books, television, and the stories of her parents. As the case tends to be with iconic figures, these tales probably presented Eli as a symbol instead of an actual person. It’s always difficult to accept one’s idol for the person he or she really is. I’m not saying that Sequoia thinks any less of Eli since working with him, just that she has had to learn to accept the real Mercer, flaws and all. It appears she is not only accepting of his shortcomings, but comfortable enough to address them sarcastically to his face. I’m not usually one to make pop culture references, but she has become the Geoffrey to Eli’s Uncle Phil, if you must.

Eli heavily depends on Sequoia to help keep The BlackGuard running, perhaps more than he realizes. You see, Eli is a “big picture” type. He has vision. He knows where his people are, and where they need to go, but he is not a fine details person like Sequoia. If I can use a nautical analogy, Eli is the ship and its captain. Not only is he capable of carrying those dependent on him through turbulent waters, but he also commands the crew and leads them from one destination to another. Sticking with the same analogy, Sequoia is both his map and compass. One cannot navigate without some sense of direction and a knowledge of possible obstacles in the path to one’s destination. Of course, this dependency works in both directions, as a compass and map without a destination or means of transportation are of little use.

Sequoia is a very intelligent, responsible individual with a keen eye for detail, making her an invaluable tool in Eli’s plans for the BlackGuard. However, she depends on him, just as he depends on her. Where Sequoia sees a path littered with puzzles requiring solutions, Eli sees a destination that must be reached no matter what, and that is someone Sequoia needs to follow.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and O.D.A.N.

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 12: O.D.A.N. and Sequoia

27 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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2 comments

Now here is a relationship that requires very little insight: Odan and Sequoia.

One does not have to be a genius to see that Odan and Sequoia come from opposite upbringings. Sequoia grew up surrounded by educated, well-mannered individuals. Odan grew up around hoodlums. Sequoia graduated from college with honors. Odan has not stepped foot in a school (unless you count a dojo) since early puberty. Sequoia speaks clearly and articulately. Sometimes, I feel I need an interpreter when conversing with Odan. Needless to say, Odan and Sequoia tend not to communicate with each other very well.

I guess I should at least attempt to add a little depth to this observation. Both Odan and Sequoia tend to have a steady stream of information coming into their heads. Both actively make an effort to keep up to date with whatever they consider to be their source of “the truth”. Sequoia’s truth comes from literature. She’s not foolish enough to believe that any one book is entirely honest or accurate, but she does believe the more she reads, the closer she comes to the truth. Odan’s truth comes from the streets, by way of music, television, and word of mouth. Odan will tell you himself that, if anything, the hood is honest, and sometimes brutally so.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying Odan and Sequoia do not like each other. I just don’t think they can currently relate to each other. I do think that both, since joining The BlackGuard, have discovered a world entirely different than the ones they come from and may yet find some common ground.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 11: Afia Melanin And Jonnie Staples

20 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

Today, I want to cover the many differences and similarities of Afia Melanin and Jonnie Staples.

In this discussion, I guess I should start with the biggest difference in Jonnie and Afia, and that is humor. Jonnie tends to find humor under just about any condition. If he notices even the slightest joke in a situation, he makes sure to point it out to the rest of the team, whether they appreciate it or not. Afia, on the other hand, finds very little to be funny about any situation (She obviously has not gotten any of MY witty remarks). If Afia does have a sense of humor, it probably revolves around the downfall of the “white man”.

That leads me to another difference between these two: their views on race. In Afia’s mind everything has some sort of racial connotation. Just about any action she witnesses is racially motivated in her eyes. I honestly believe that she is so driven to see her own race prosper that she projects her viewpoints onto everyone else. Since all of her actions are racially motivated, everyone’s actions must be racially motivated. In contrast, Jonnie could care less about the racial issues of the world. Even in the presence of blatant racism, Jonnie simply ignores it. I don’t know whether he is in denial of the presence of racism or just so self-absorbed that he does not concern himself with it. Either way, I think his refusal to acknowledge it bothers Afia intensely.

There are two traits that these two do share though. Both are impulsive, and both are violent. I guess you could say that all the members of The BlackGuard are violent, but Afia and Jonnie tend to get more satisfaction out of their violent actions than their other two teammates. Impulsiveness combined with a violent nature means these two are always the first to jump into battle. It’s funny how these two are so quick to jump into a fight, and neither is fighting for the same cause.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 10: Eli Mercer And Darius Doome

04 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

Now, I move to one of the most counter-productive relationships of The BlackGuard: Eli Mercer and Darius Doome.

I call this relationship counter-productive because it seems to go against Eli’s intentions for the team. Eli started The BlackGuard as a means of rehabilitation. Each member of the team is there because they have ‘issues’ that make them liabilities if left unchecked. Since arriving at the base, I’ve witnessed Eli’s attempts to restrict the negative attributes of each member and endorse their positive attributes. But therein lies the problem with Darius.

For every other member of the BlackGuard, the negatives and the positives can be separated. Darius, not so much. His insanity and his genius appear to be one and the same. I honestly believe (and obviously, so does Eli) that if one were to somehow remove Darius’s insanity, he would then become just another average scientist. The same mind that may invent a radioactive toaster one day may very likely hold the key to defeating a dangerous adversary the next.

Of all the members of The BlackGuard, Darius has had the most ‘successful’ career as a super-villain. His methods, though strange at times, are unquestionably effective. Eli is more than aware of this. In a team that is three fourths direct offense, he realizes just how valuable a strategic mind is on the field. Without Darius, the BlackGuard initiative would most definitely fail, and then no one would benefit. This puts Eli in a very conflicted position. In order to ensure that his team is victorious, he must allow, and sometimes even encourage, Doome to be Doome.

What really makes this situation troubling is not only how it affects Darius, but also what it does to Eli. Of course, Darius will continue to be an unstable individual, but I can only imagine the turmoil Eli’s conscience is undergoing. Having to set aside one’s principles in order to achieve necessary results. In this case, I’m actually more concerned with the mental status of Eli.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Staples

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 9: Odan And Darius Doome

09 Jul 12
Jerrod Smith
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4 comments

Slowly, but surely, I’m trudging through this series of entries. Let’s continue with Odan and Darius.

I would have expected there to be more animosity between these two than I’ve currently seen. Despite his small frame, Odan has the personality of the typical bully, and from my personal experience, bullies tend to pick on the “brainy” types. however, I’ve yet to see Odan make fun of Darius. This could, of course, be due to the fact that he has me here to ridicule instead, but, somehow, I feel it’s more than that

Though Darius may be a scientist, he is to a great extent a bully himself. Before joining The BlackGuard, he earned a reputation as a notorious super-villain. In this strange world of super-powered beings, this earns Darius some “hood credibility” with Odan. Of course, in typical bully fashion, Darius is always quick to endorse Odan’s derision of others (once again, most commonly me). Darius even goes as far as attempting to instigate a response from Odan’s victims. I’m uncertain as to whether he does this in order to accomplish something or just for his own personal enjoyment.

Of course there is one trait common to both Odan and Darius: boastfulness. Both men seem to be compelled to announce their own greatness to anyone within shouting distance, and both tend to be very long-winded about it. When it comes to these two, bragging about oneself is an art-form. It’s actually quite theatrical at times.

I still wouldn’t go as far as to say Odan and Darius are friends. In fact, I don’t even feel comfortable saying they get along. All I’m willing to say right now is that at the moment, Odan and Darius are not (excuse the following colorful expression) “on each others’ s#!t-lists”. Considering these two enormous ego’s, however, it’s only a matter of time before they bump heads.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Doome

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 8: Afia Melanin And Sequoia

26 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
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5 comments

Today, I continue my analysis of the social interaction amongst The BlackGuard by looking at Afia Melanin and Sequoia.

Afia and Sequoia have a relationship unlike any other in the team due to the fact that they are the only two females. I feel that a kinship has formed between these two ladies as both try to maintain their sanity while surrounded by outlandish males.

That’s not to say they always agree with one another. Sequoia is a thinker, and Afia is a “do-er”, as one might call it. Where Sequoia prefers to analyze a situation and gather all information before acting, Afia often jumps to conclusions (and then to action). Sequoia has no qualms about pointing out flaws in Afia’s logic, something most people, especially those without superhuman abilities, would be reluctant to do.

Afia, however, does not take her usual confrontational tone with Sequoia as she does with others. It appears Sequoia may actually be capable of talking sense into Afia from time to time. Though Afia tends to value brawn over brains, I believe she may actually respect Sequoia for her intelligence. This could be due to the fact that Sequoia has a vast knowledge of African history and culture.

One thing I find intriguing is the occasional admiration Sequoia has for Afia. She may not follow her logic at times, but Sequoia is still fascinated by Afia’s dominance on not only the battlefield, but in just about every argument she ever has. I believe there’s a repressed side of Sequoia that looks up to Afia. She’s the defintion of an empowered woman.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Doome

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 7: Mercer And Staples

09 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
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6 comments

I’ve allowed myself to get distracted and have been remiss in my entries on the individual relationships of The BlackGuard. Today, I resume the process with an observation of Eli Mercer and Jonnie Staples.

I noticed quickly that any interaction between Eli and Jonnie can become an explosive situation, like introducing fire to gasoline. This has mainly to do with the fact that they have entirely different comfort zones. Whenever they are in the same room, there’s a clash for dominance, as both are trying to transform their surroundings into something which they are accustomed to. Allow me to elaborate.

Eli requires order in everything he does. In fact, amongst The BlackGuard, he is order. He mandates that every member of the team wear black (with the exception of Geronimo, whom it seems Eli does not have as much authority over) to create not only unity, but order. To keep a team as dangerous as The BlackGuard under control, he must maintain a certain amount of decorum, or else he risks turning something initially positive into a disaster, which he has already narrowly avoided a few times in the short time this team has been together.

Jonnie, on the other hand, finds comfort in chaos. In fact, he relishes in it. Not to say that Jonnie is only happy when he has either a gun or sword (or grenade) in his hand, but he does seem bored whenever there’s a lack of unpredictability in a situation. When he finds himself in these predicaments, he feels compelled to create chaos, often to the dismay of Eli.

As long as these two are unable to compromise in their battle of order vs. chaos, there will always be turmoil within the team. On a side note, despite their differences, I get the feeling Jonnie doesn’t see Eli as such a bad guy. And despite the fact Eli seems to care about the well-being of his team, sometimes I feel he just doesn’t like Jonnie.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 6: Staples And Sequoia

30 Apr 12
Jerrod Smith
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7 comments

Today, I want to discuss the peculiar “friendship?” of Sequoia and Jonnie.

Originally, I saw Sequoia as having the same relationship with Jonnie as she does with Darius. Like Darius, Jonnie often has an obscured view of reality, which greatly contrasts with Sequoia’s sensible nature. However, where Sequoia chooses to simply ignore Darius, she often competes with Jonnie in a game of wits. Both of these two seem to appreciate the art of a perfectly timed quip (often at the expense of Mercer), so any “conversation” they have is normally a sparring match of one-liners and jabbing insults, with each mocking blow causing the smirks on their faces to grow.

As a former student of mine, I am well aware that Sequoia enjoys laughing at others more so than just laughing with them. I find it quite intriguing that, of all the members of The BlackGuard, Jonnie seems to be the one that can make her laugh simply by berating another teammate. I would say that she’s simply amused at the target of the insult, but I notice that the jeers directed by Jonnie are often the ones that cause her to quietly giggle to herself.

It is their common love of sarcastic gibes that causes me to believe there is a mutual respect between Jonnie and Sequoia…… and possibly something more.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Staples

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