Interview with ‘P.B.Soldier’ Comic Creator Naseed Gifted
Born in Newark, NJ, Naseed has always held a love for comics. He loved collecting comics and thought maybe one day he would grow up to create them. Growing up, his favorite comic characters were the X-Men and early Spider-Man. Those comics really connected with him on a mental and spiritual level. This family-oriented gentleman let his children inspire his characters and his writing and now we have P.B.Soldier. He was able to take time out of his busy schedule to interview with us on his inspiration, and what keeps him motivated.
When did you decide writing is your passion?
Writing has become a passion of mine. I was advised early on that I was good at math and that I should pursue a career utilizing my math and science skills. So I pursued a career pathway in engineering, electrical engineering group be specific. But as I navigated through the engineering design process, I found that communication was key to conveying ideas. That is when I started to write more. My writing was a weakness that I developed over years. It first started with presentations, poetry (for self-expression), short stories and then comics. Something that was clearly one of my weaknesses became a strength but it was only through hard work dedication and consistency was I able to conquer the fears of my weakness. I was a reluctant writer who had a lot to say but did not want to share it with the world. This is the reason I kept notebooks of poems and short stories until one day I had the courage to share this with the world. Writing is always a work in progress.
What do you love most about being a writer? The least?
The thing I love the most about writing is the ability you have to create new worlds. The first time you open someone to a concept that you create and that idea resonates with them is a great feeling. Also, I feel it’s necessary to write and expose others to different things because that provides perspective. The least thing that I love is the rewrite. No one’s first draft is a masterpiece it’s the process of writing and then rewriting, that part I do not like but learned to appreciate. I look at writing as a journey and you are clear on your goal. I am very critical of my writings so rewrites generally take longer than the first draft.
What was the inspiration for P.B Soldier?
My work with children inspired me to develop the concept for P.B.Soldier. In particular, I owe it to my son who let me know there was an under-representation of characters that look like him.
What was the inspiration for the characters?
The inspiration for the characters in P.B.Soldier comes from a few sources: college friends, past students, and readings. During my college years, my friends and I started a clothing line called P.B.Soldier. Our mission was the pursuit of consciousness “clothing with a message” that laid the framework for the P.B.Soldier characters. All of the members of the clothing line which was about eight (8) of us at one point had all types of personalities.
This was the model for most of my characters. From college, I begin my career as an engineer then transitioned to education where I became a mathematics, pre-engineering teacher, and robotics coach. I am only mentioning this because the students who I cross paths with throughout those years were the other inspirations for my character base. I also write with them in mind and how would they react to the various situations. The last inspiration for my characters come from reading about our history, science and technology. The heritage of black people is very rich and detailed with achievements that most people do not know so that rich history gets sprinkled throughout the comic.
How did you and the artist decide on the particulars of the artwork for P.B.Solider? How did it help shape your vision?
Everything starts with the script, after developing the script the sketches come next. We refer back to the script to look for two things: can the pictures tell the story without the words? Is there a cohesive flow?. This is how we ensure the concept fit the vision of the story. I owe my artist Abel Garcia the most credit for understanding me. When you and your artist have a connection shaping the vision becomes easy.
Why do you think it’s important to see more diversity in comics?
I believe diversity is very important for people to see in comics to state it in its simplest form. Imagine you’re at a concert watching your favorite artist, then a photographer comes and takes a picture of the audience. He or she asks you, “do you want to see the picture?”. As excited as you are, you say “Hell Yeah” he/she shows you the picture. What is the first that you’re looking for? You are looking for yourself in the picture.
Heroes/Sheroes that look like us have similar experiences, backgrounds and are culturally sensitive to the issues we face (in some sense). Only now are we seeing a diverse comic universe. The world has always been diverse and our only saviors can not be from one race. But the comic industry still needs to improve on more diverse writers and artists to tell these stories from a different perspective.
What were some of the difficulties, or, challenges you experienced while creating your comic?
One of the difficulties we experience while producing our comic P.B.Soldier was first believing that it was possible. After believing that it was possible and the means to make this project, we had to understand why it was necessary. That became the motivating factor to continue when there is nothing to fall back on. Comics is not a lucrative industry so staying focused on your purpose keeps you going and pushing forward. After that, financial obstacles and exposure are the last hurdles that you need to get past. I found where there is a will there is a way. That’s how we’re able to navigate the various obstacles of developing a comic.
Where do you hope to see the success of P.B Soldier a year from now?
In the short term, we do plan on releasing shorter length animated products. PBS Media (Phocused Black Star Media) our production studio will produce P.B.Soldier Episode 3.0 and 3.5 comic; and P.B.Soldier live action short film due for release in 2016.
Can you provide any advice for those looking to write for independent comic book companies?
My advice to any writer looking to work for or with an independent comic book company to develop your reason why you decided to write in the first place. Hopefully, it’s not about money because if it is then you need another reason for writing. We all know your craft is not something to take for granted but, in the beginning, there is little to no money. You need another reason to remain focused and push forward. Your reason why hopefully has to deal with conveying a message within your story that only you can tell and that the world the be in a better place because of it.