Omari Malik starts his own publishing house inspired by his desire to see characters who not only look like him but also share similar experiences with him.
Malik says his dream of owning his own publishing house is rooted in his childhood. His father was not what one would expect of a typical comic book fan. He was a sailor who later became a police officer. However, Malik fondly remembers his father’s deep love for comics and later inherited a large collection of comics when his father tragically died by suicide in 2003, when Malik was only seven years.
Ever since the love for comics passed on to him has brought Malik to numerous comic book conventions across the country and fueled his appetite for consuming superhero content and talk.
It was during his time in college that Malik realized that while he enjoyed reading comics even as an adult, he felt like he didn’t connect to the material in any meaningful way.
“I realized that no one was doing what I wanted. I’m done with pantyhose; I’ve overstepped the bounds. I oversee the cliched archetypes and their cliched subversions,” Malik explained.
“I wanted something new, something cool that spoke to me and really spoke to people who looked like me, people who shared similar experiences with me. Something that was for us without being forced, that we could enjoy without being embarrassed or worrying about how it would be perceived,” he added. Subsequently, Malik launched his business by publishing an anthology comprising three unique stories on Kickstarter. Each book features a black main character and three distinct styles, including a Japanese manga style. The first one-shot is a teen drama titled “Adastra.” It follows the story of a 15-year-old girl named Adaysia Mitchell.
“Adaysia has the power to change shape. She can literally be anything she wants, but she struggles to be herself, while trying to find time to save the world,” Malik said. He noted that he wrote the character based on his younger sister’s behavior and personality as well as his college girlfriend’s experiences. “Basing it on real people was important to me. Real women and girls who don’t have their unique experiences told in a predominantly white industry,” he shared. The second one-shot is a manga called “Dogpile”. The story is about a man named DaQuan Raké, who lost his entire family in an “accident” when he was a child. Rather than go to foster care, he ran away to find a new family. He found his new family in an unexpected place among seven dogs. Now an adult, DaQuan returns home with his dogs to fight crime and prevent more “accidents” from happening.
“Initially, before conceptualizing the anthology, I researched folklore, especially African folklore, which I thought would do well once translated into comics. One of the stories I came across was about a man and some animals. I veered away from the original tale a lot, but it really took on a form of its own, which I’m proud of,” Malik explained. The third and final one-shot is about a young man who “weaves” between the paths of good and evil. The story follows a 17-year-old named Oh, who was convinced to get a tattoo by his friends after being released from juvenile detention. To his surprise, these tattoos gave him superpowers. “Oh, has to decide if he’s going to double down on his troubles like his friends or if he’s going to decide to use his new powers for good,” Malik explained. Malik says he plans to use Kickstarter as a pre-order system. “My comics are completely finished and I’ve already sold out copies at several conventions, so anyone committing to the campaign is just pre-ordering the book,” he said.
He added that if the Kickstarter is fully funded, the money will go to order fulfillment first, and anything extra will go to actual series production for the three one-shots. Malik hopes fathers, sons and families will check out his Kickstarter page, which can be found at: www.BlackToothPublishing.com/kickstarter “When I started coming up with the concept of BlackTooth, I really wanted to write stories that I thought my dad would have wanted to read and stories that we could have enjoyed together,” Malik said.