Dawud Anyabwile is an Emmy Award-winning contemporary graphic artist whose style is rooted in a combination of urban and traditional American comic form. Dawud is the creator of the critically acclaimed book Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline. He is renowned for his work on MTV, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and NBA TV. Dawud’s work is currently catalogued at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in Atlanta, Georgia. Dawud is featured prominently in the 2010 publication Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture. He is also a featured subject in the upcoming documentary Black Masculinity in Comic Books, produced by Dr. Jonathan Gayles, professor of African American studies at Georgia State University. Additionally, Dawud was a panelist discussing the topic of Reading in the Digital Age, a forum sponsored by the Harlem Book Fair which aired on C-Span. His book, Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline, is widely recognized as the catalyst for the Black comic explosion of the 1990s.
As people are looking for an alternative to the slew of cookie- cutter heroes, Brotherman offers, within the realm of action and adventure, uplifting and hope- filled stories that resonate with the cultural sensibilities of today’s generation. Brotherman creates this broad appeal through stories and characterizations that honestly reflect the depth of the Black community. From their earliest inception, mainstream comics rarely featured people of color. When they did, virtually all of them were stereotypical archetypes. However, genuine representation in film, music, and print was more prevalent in the independent realm, particularly during the early 1990s. One group at the forefront of this surge included the creators of Big City Comics, who filled the void of intelligent characters of color in the comic book industry. One of the goals Dawud hopes to accomplish is providing his audience with a better portrayal of the Black male in popular media. “There’s an imbalance of the Black male image in this country,” Dawud acknowledges. “A lot of times we’re the slick-talking womanizer and we’re not really seen as the family man. That’s not the core of who we are as Black men. Growing up as a Black boy into a man, even if you try not to be that type of person, you sometimes find that people are looking at you as if you are. That comes from watching all these TV shows growing up, showing Black men as jive, or pimps.
Brotherman is a personification of the brother who will accept the challenge. He’s strong, but he also has vulnerabilities and he’s not a part of all the things that they say are stereotypically what Black men are into. He’s the character that says change comes when you decide within yourself that you want to see the change.” Dawud’s visit to the Virginia Tech campus will bring a unique opportunity for a broad range of viewers — those with an appreciation for commercial art, urban hip-hop, comic book enthusiasts, writers, entrepreneurs, and others interested in the African diaspora. His work challenges the contemporary image of the urban environment as well as broadens the definition of the world of comics in the United States. During his five day visit to Virginia Tech, Dawud is open to providing several lectures and workshops focusing on the varied aspects of his work, the status of the African American image in the media, and his experience as an independent artist. Specific topics can be refined as planning for his visit to Virginia Tech takes shape. These events will be open to VT students, staff, faculty, and the wider community. We anticipate and audience of 500 for the largest event. Dawud will also be present for the opening reception of the exhibit Drawing from the Soul: The Official Brotherman Comics Art Experience, in the Perspective Gallery, Squires Student Center, to interact with patrons on a more informal basis.
Below are links to interviews featuring Dawud Anyabwile and his work: