By Katherine Brooks –The Huffington Post Since 1973, cinephile John Duke Kisch has been documenting the evolution of African American film through a beloved, but sometimes overlooked medium — movie posters. From “Siren of the Tropics,” starring the inimitable Josephine Baker, to “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” an Ossie Davis favorite, Kisch meticulously found and saved the stunning visual advertisements for films that adorned city streets and theater halls. Eventually, he amassed over 38,000 posters from 30 different countries, amounting to a massive visual history of Hollywood’s relationship to race and representation. His collection, the world’s largest privately owned archive of black film memorabilia, has recently been compiled into a book, titled A Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art. A striking homage to the graphic design aesthetic of yesteryear, the series of pop artworks more importantly outlines the way the film industry has portrayed black actors and characters for over a century. Kisch’s collection began over four decades ago, when he received a “Caledonia” poster as a gift. That particular work featured Louis Jordan, or the King of the Jukebox as he’s known, with his arms outstretched, beckoning the viewer to take notice. At that point, Kisch knew little about black cinema, and even less about the independent companies behind them. But that one poster ended up launching a life-long obsession, one that would take Kisch to comic book stores across the country, and put him in contact with fellow cinephiles around the world. “Unlike the better-funded advertising for mainstream Hollywood movies, the posters from this independent Black Hollywood were printed for minuscule budgets,” Kisch explains on his website. “However, the passion and conviction of these films is startlingly evident from the posters that survive.” The nostalgia factor is strong. The remnants of early 20th century cinema harken back to the film careers of Jimmy Cliff, Sidney Poitier, and Pam Grier. They are a visual feast for any history buff or movie fanatic, filled with both celebration and stereotyping. Kisch originally worked with historian Edward Mapp to produce A Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art in 1990, which covered the years between 1916 and 1965. A little over 25 years later, that time frame has extended to include the next five decades. We have a preview of the book, published by Reel Art Press this month, here. Let us know your thoughts on the fascinating collection in the comments.
by Donovan X. Ramsey
Los Angeles graphic designer who worked on concept art for Spike Lee’s latest film is claiming that his designs were used for the film without him ever receiving a dime for the work.
In a lengthy open letter to Lee Wednesday, Emmy-nominated designer Juan Luis Garcia details a nightmare scenario involving an unnamed marketing company behind Lee’s upcoming Oldboy.
Garcia wrote that he was approached by the ad agency last January to produce posters for the film and calls his experience with the agency one of the “worst experiences of [his] life.” Garcia says he was initially offered “peanuts” to submit designs but promised fair compensation through a licensing buyout fee if Lee approved the designs.
Garcia then claims that he was informed that Lee approved the posters, that his images would become key art for the film’s marketing but the compensation ultimately offered was too low. In the end, Garcia says, he declined the offer. But that’s not quite the end of the story.
“Last night I was browsing the Internet and my jaw dropped when I stumbled upon your personal and your production company’s social media pages,” Garcia wrote in his letter to Lee. “I couldn’t believe that you had been using and claiming copyright on three of those very same posters I designed. I just couldn’t believe it. I perceive you as an advocate of the arts and artists and have a sinking feeling that you are as much of a victim in this as I am.”
Garcia states explicitly in the letter that he never signed any agreements and “certainly never agreed to donating or selling any copyright of my work without a licensing fee.” Some of the images in question are still currently featured on Spike Lee’s social media pages and elsewhere.
Lee has not responded to requests for comments but tweeted Thursday, “I Never Heard Of This Guy Juan Luis Garcia,If He Has A Beef It’s Not With Me.I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.Cheap Trick Writing To Me.YO.”
In a statement to theGrio, Garcia says that after posting the letter to his personal site, his inbox was flooded with messages of support and interest. He has not, however, heard from Lee or his 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks production company.
“Mainly, everyone is asking why I don’t name the agency and the answer is simple,” Garcia says. “Spike knows exactly who I am referring to. The objective of the letter is to reach him with the truth so that he can help me and the design community instead of simply taking legal action.”
A young rapper has been missing for almost a week, and his family is frantic. They have no idea where he is, and say his music may have made him a target.
Near his home near the intersection of 52nd and Custer, the image of 22-year-old Evon Young rests on trees. Young disappeared on January 1st.
Young’s family has been covering the neighborhood where he went missing with posters for six days.
On January 2nd, Young was supposed to see his mother, but Annette Perry says her son never made the visit.
“My fear is that my baby won’t come home,” Perry said.
Perry says her first feeling that something was wrong came when Young didn’t show up for work January 2nd. She tells us Evon wasn’t the kind of person that would just disappear.
The family held a vigil for Young at 52nd and Custer on Tuesday night.
Perry says she called Young last Tuesday night around 10:30, and her last words spoken to him were “I love you.”
Young’s roommate reportedly heard a car pull up outside their home, and saw Young leave around 10:45 p.m. Young apparently left his jacket behind, suggesting he wouldn’t be gone long.
Young hasn’t shown up for work and no one has been able to reach him since.
“I started calling back and it went straight to voicemail,” Perry said.
Young has made a name for himself in Milwaukee’s rap scene. Just when the rapper’s career seemed to be taking off, he goes missing.
Online, Young is easy to find. On YouTube, the rapper goes by the name “Yung LT.”
Young’s mother says he’s never run away before and has no known enemies, though his music could draw scorn or jealousy from others.
Now, Young’s family is hoping someone is interested in talking about where Young is.
“Please call the police station. The numbers are on the flyers. Hit us on Facebook. We’ve got all the types of ways to contact us. We’re not hiding where we are,” Perry said.
Young is described as 5’0″ tall, weighing 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black Perkins work shirt, black pants and possibly a gray hoodie. He has a sleeve of tattoos on each arm saying “Lord’s Advocate.”
A vigil is scheduled in Young’s honor Tuesday, January 8th in the area of 52nd and Custer.
Milwaukee police are engaged in the search for Young. Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Young should contact MPD Sensitive Crimes at 414-935-7405.–This story was compiled using information from local television news outlets Channels 58 adn Fox 6 contributed