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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Time to get black, y'all.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Good day.

  • Good vibes.

  • Good life.

  • I'm Craig Robinson, and we're back

  • for what I promise to be one of the craziest episodes yet.

  • We're going to deep dive into three different minds that

  • not only see the world through alien colored lenses,

  • they know how to take us into their imaginations

  • and come along for the ride.

  • Oh, well now that I've successfully given myself

  • chills, let's sit back, relax, and enjoy some

  • interstellar creative drip.

  • Caw-caw, caw, caw, caw, caw.

  • Caw, caw.

  • Caw.

  • Oh, what's up, Craig?

  • Hey, how are you doing, Bird?

  • Hey, you know me.

  • Just flying around, doing my thing, trying to stay out

  • of trouble.

  • Same.

  • Showing the world Black excellence.

  • Quick question, caw.

  • You get my fax earlier?

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • You sent that fax?

  • Oh yeah, that was me.

  • It's always me.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • But if you read the fax, then you

  • would know that it's time to set up the next segment.

  • Well, you heard the bird.

  • Time to hit y'all with these bars, dog.

  • These bars.

  • The distinguished Virginia wordsmith

  • Pusha T once said, legend in two games

  • like I'm Pee Wee Kirkland.

  • Well, there's another brother that

  • can claim being legendary in two games, as well.

  • From crafting legendary Nike spots, to crafting an

  • under the radar comic book with Darkhorse 20 years ago that

  • is now even more pointed and relevant than ever,

  • this brother takes OG status to another level.

  • You want to take this one, Bird?

  • This is unexpected.

  • Cool.

  • Here we go.

  • Caw-caw, caw, caw, caw.

  • Your attention, please.

  • Meet Jimmy Smith, creator of Black comic book

  • hero, The Truth.

  • Nice job.

  • Caw.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • I've always loved comic books, so I've

  • always tried to bring that to the work I was working on.

  • This is in 1996, and there is a skier named Picabo

  • Street, Olympic Gold medalist.

  • She's just dope.

  • I was working in advertising as a writer,

  • we had this whole idea to make her a superhero.

  • We spent months on it, bringing it to life, we're ready to go.

  • It's a week before it's going to air.

  • Oh, we don't want to do it.

  • The client pulled the plug on it.

  • So anyway, obviously, we're pissed.

  • We're in Dan Whiten's office.

  • Dan was like, screw that, Jimmy.

  • Just make your own comic book.

  • We'll pay for it.

  • Now, you know, it's like you can hear the record scratch.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • I set the story in the future, 2020.

  • Just enough that it was possible for things to get real bad,

  • but not flying cars.

  • I wanted to show a divided society that's too blind to see

  • the ways in which they're being manipulated into hate

  • and have no idea why.

  • So here, we've got these Asian folks, tired

  • of the "good stereotype", quote unquote,

  • the Native Americans looking to reclaim their land,

  • white folks being racist.

  • I know you all hate the R word.

  • I know.

  • And then we got a Black leader yelling, original man,

  • stirring up trouble.

  • The Truth is named Freeman S. Jackson, III.

  • He's just a regular black dude.

  • He's living his life.

  • He's in his bag.

  • He's got his girl, Smoke, who is actually my wife.

  • Then these ancient deities, spirits from back in the day,

  • sense there's a disturbance.

  • Those before form this spear that

  • ends up going into Freeman's chest,

  • that gives him his superpowers.

  • I remember I was trying to find a power that was unique.

  • I started by not having him fly.

  • Then I said, no, screw that.

  • We don't ever get to fly.

  • Black folks don't get to fly, so I made him fly.

  • He's called The Truth for a reason,

  • and that's his main superpower.

  • He forces you to see the truth, to actually see what is real,

  • not what's fake, not what's a bunch of BS,

  • but what's really going down.

  • Fortunately, unfortunately, the reason

  • I'm even here talking to you all about this

  • is because the nation is divided,

  • and that's the whole story about The Truth.

  • So The Truth, this was inspired by my life story.

  • All that soup that came together,

  • that formed me, how I look at the world today,

  • I poured it all into here.

  • I was born in Muskegon, Michigan,

  • and I grew up in an all Black neighborhood

  • up until about the age of four or five.

  • Then my parents moved me into all white neighborhood.

  • Boom.

  • I might as well have traveled from Jupiter to Mars.

  • When I was 15, I was in ninth grade, and I had this party.

  • I had my white friends over and, obviously, I

  • had my black friends.

  • You put on Parliament Funkadelic,

  • you put on The O'Jays.

  • Everything was cool with the Black folks,

  • but the white folks were bugging out like,

  • Jimmy, put on Led Zeppelin.

  • Where's Aerosmith?

  • So then, I'd have to go and switch it up.

  • Black friends, man, what's going on, dog?

  • Couldn't win.

  • So hey, I didn't have that many friends in the early going.

  • I had to entertain myself, take towels

  • and tie them around my neck and act like I was a superhero.

  • It was, kind of, dope.

  • And it spawned a lot of creativity.

  • Growing up, I didn't really have any Black superheroes,

  • except for my dad, and my mom, and my cousin.

  • He was cool.

  • He had a big Afro.

  • He was dope.

  • So they were superheroes to me.

  • Back then I just wanted to see myself in a comic.

  • And I figured if I wanted to see myself,

  • there had to be other kids that wanted to see themselves too.

  • All of those experiences led to what I

  • ended up putting into the book.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Now, you need a bad guy, right?

  • Bad guys got to be formidable, and the bad guy's got to be

  • just as dope as the good guy.

  • So we've got these rich, old dudes who

  • are pulling all the strings and profiting, kind of like what

  • you got going on today, and these hate

  • crusader figure guys, you know.

  • The dudes that control the world.

  • They figure out they're being played,

  • and then they turn into the big bad guy, Toxic.

  • This thing with four heads and acid vomit.

  • It just jacks people up, and that's what lies are,

  • it's poison.

  • It goes back since the beginning of time,

  • people who just spread misinformation, spread

  • hate, knowing it's not true.

  • And our hero Freeman, he was flawed and misguided too.

  • He fell for it.

  • And when he became The Truth, he could see clearer,

  • so he made sure everybody else could see clearly too.

  • Once they saw the truth, they realize

  • they've been played for fools.

  • So they rallied together, and instead of fighting

  • against each other, they defeated the real enemy,

  • which was Toxic.

  • Freeman ends by saying, we've been living this lie thinking

  • we're all different, but if we come together and believe

  • in one human race, well, it just works better for everybody,

  • doesn't it.

  • I really don't want to be here.

  • I'm here because I'm talking about something that's tragic,

  • that's really sad, and it's shameful.

  • Something that was written over 20 years ago

  • is applicable to today, and a lot of this hatred that's

  • going on, our leaders who are using division to get more

  • votes, not bringing us together, not making us one nation

  • under God, but dividing us.

  • Why can't we help each other?

  • Why don't we want all of us to have the same types of rights?

  • Why don't we want everybody to vote?

  • So that's what The Truth is about,

  • understanding, coming together and realizing

  • that we're all one.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • I got my mom and my dad in the book.

  • There's dad.

  • There's mom.

  • I know my keys are under here somewhere.

  • I just have to keep digging until I them.

  • Patience.

  • Energy.

  • My ancestors shall guide me.

  • Japanese culture is fascinatingly beautiful,

  • and to be honest, seeing a big Black dude with a Japanese zen

  • garden isn't an image that grows on bonsai trees,

  • which is precisely why our next piece is so inspiring.

  • Imagine you are a black kid living in New Jersey,

  • and you tell your family you are moving to Tokyo

  • to pursue a career in anime.

  • After your mama and aunties fainted, most likely

  • you get slapped upside the head by your pops and/or uncle.

  • Sounds like an amazing adventure, right?

  • Well, trust me, it is the journey of this young brother,

  • and I'll stop talking about it and show you all better

  • than I can tell you all.

  • Your attention, please.

  • Meet Arthell Isom.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [SPEAKING JAPANESE]

  • In Japanese, study means the underpinning.

  • It's the foundation of the background of arts.

  • And determines the whole world.

  • [SPEAKING JAPANESE]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Now my earliest memory of drawing is when I was two.

  • At least, that's what my mom told me.

  • My brother and I would draw, just to build our own realities

  • and to escape the ones that we were in.

  • Believe it was in summer, there was a show that introduced

  • anime to Westerners, called "Anime Unleashed," that

  • was when I watched "Ghost in the Shell," and yeah,

  • it had a huge impact on my life.

  • "Ghost in the Shell" was the only video

  • that I had in college and, pretty much,

  • just watched it every day, while I was trying to decide

  • what my major was going to be.

  • Around the end of my fourth year of college I got kicked out.

  • To get me back in I had to attend

  • this special class that the administration

  • had crafted for me.

  • While in this class, my teacher asked

  • what did I want to focus on?

  • And I still didn't know, but she noticed in my journal

  • that I had just pictures from all

  • the backgrounds of "Ghost in the Shell" and my cityscapes.

  • And she was like, well I think you

  • want to be a background artist.

  • And