Hip Hop execs, when asked how they know when an unsigned artists is hot, they say “typically when the music finds you. No digging. No searching. It just finds you. Again and again. That’s when I know.”
This is how I came to hear of Michael Archie, the writer, artist, and executive producer behind the Workforce comic book. I just kept seeing the name pop up. I first heard about him through NappyQueen.com. I avoided it and the name came back again. I believe in signs, so I had to take note.
Michael Archie has built a growing fan base, grabbed the attention of an audience solely through WordPress, and got his followers to do what most Magazine publishers cannot do — get readers to pay for the content. Not to mention he self publishes.
Now if that’s not some Kujichagulia for you then I don’t know what is.
Below is my interview with Michael Archie. The man I consider to be the next big thing.
First, why is your comic called Workforce? Even though the comic isn’t about superheros, I always wanted a superhero team name. Since the book is about people working low wage jobs they hate, I felt WorkForce was perfect. It’s like the team everybody’s on but then at the same time it’s the team nobody wants to be on. My second choice was Sh*tty Job Squad.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about the comic book industry? That being on the independent level of the industry…Nothing is more valuable than word of mouth. The good thing about that is it forces you to do the best you can because you want people to talk about it and spread the word.
So Workforce is your super friends. But if they’re super friends what’s their super powers?
I would say coming to work everyday and staying sane is the superpower. I don’t think Bruce Wayne could work somewhere like “CJ Nickels” without flipping out.
What are or were your greatest challenges to creating Workforce? Not giving up? The first two times I started writing and drawing WorkForce, it wasn’t really that good. It was waaaay less humorous….I would say borderline depressing lol. I think the reason was because I was actually working at Sears in the shoe dept at the time making minimum wage. So I let the pain show up in the material. The format was different too, It was one continuous story versus the strip format. The third time around I quit the job at Sears so it was easier to look back and laugh at my experience working at Sears and i also went to a comic strip format which helped my ideas flow better.
Interesting. What made you quit Sears? And how long have you been doing the department store hustle? What made me quit was this….they took me off the schedule for an entire week then the next the only day I had was the entire day of Mother’s Day. So I had a f*** it I quit moment over the phone. It only lasted about a year. I worked at Wal-Mart for a year too (that was the worst lol).
Writers know when they’ve hit the nail right on the head and readers actually get it. Is their Workforce episode that you look back on and think “I nailed it”? Dang…just one? let me think. I did one about the News Networks pumping fear into the public. Fear of a black man, Fear of a Foreign invader, and the once in a while fear of a crazy white serial killer lol.
I feel like I’m talking to the hot new unsigned rapper. Do you want to continue to be independent or do you want a major imprint to fund, market, and promote your work?
That’s funny because I’m a major hip hop head so I actually look at my life like a underground rapper. So you could say that my first comic book feels like my first album in a sense. As far as going to a major? Hell No!!!! Creative Control and Ownership isn’t something that’s available at some place like Marvel Comics (owned by Disney). Now being under a large independent comic book company could be a possibility for me. That way I get more exposure but keep control and ownership.
One thing I love about workforce is that its completely new territory. There’s no super hero. There’s no damsel in distress. The villain is hard to name. It’s just a bunch of friends with crappy jobs that love smoking and exchanging sometimes provocative and sometimes funny ideas. How did you come up with the idea of WorkForce? I’ll say it just came from my experiences working low wage jobs. The main one being the shoe department at Sears. And even though WorkForce is a comic I would say I was inspired the most by movies like Clerks, Friday, Office Space…movies that I felt I could make that dealt with real everyday conversations amongst friends that were entertaining. I think what separated me is that I’m coming from the point of view of a black man in America with a fight the system overtone to it. I made it a point not to have a damsel in distress. I said that if I put a hero in the book, that the hero would be a black woman. It’s rare in media that you see a black woman kicking a$$ and I always got excited when on rare occasions that I got a chance to see it. So that character for me in WorkForce is “Terrorist Asia Divine”. WorkForce doesn’t really have any villains. The villain is the system but even though I don’t have any villains….I do have plenty a$$holes in it.
For those who don’t know Asia Divine is a female revolutionary in Workforce that peeks out from the shadows acting as a Robin Hood for the hood but the news treats her like a terrorists. You’re breaking ground with a strong female character. Can we expect to see more of her? Yessir. In Volume 2 and 3 there’s going to be some major surprises.
Now Workforce vol 1 definitely caught the attention of many people. What can we expect from Workforce II? I’ll just say that if you liked the first one….part 2 is like a bigger, better, faster version with some new characters and some surprises nobody will see coming. I feel that I found my stride with part 2.
Now let’s talk pop culture. 2014 is coming to a close. What was the most important story of 2014 to you? I wouldn’t even name one event. 2014 if you’re into Astrology, is the age of Aquarius which mart a shift is human concsiousness. My girlfriend at the time told me this and she was right! From Trayvon Martin to Ferguson. I feel that the system is being exposed from the education system, to the legal system, to the political system, etc. It’s a feel that worldwide the system has lost a lot of it’s grip that it had on the minds of so many.
Part II tomorrow