Jiba Molei Anderson is an accomplished illustrator, graphic designer, writer, and educator. In 2002, Jiba formed Griot Enterprises and created its flagship property, The Horsemen. Currently, Jiba is working on Heroes Of Hip Hop for Top Cow and Getback for Markosia Publishing in addition to producing a new Horsemen book. He has also written the educational text Manifesto: The Tao of Jiba Molei Anderson and is currently writing the script for The Horsemen animated film. Jiba also has podcast radio show, Ghetto Of The Mind, which can be found on Itunes. In addition, he teaches courses in Animation and Video Game Design at the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg.
What made you want to become a writer?
I became a writer out of necessity. I have always considered myself an illustrator first, graphic designer second. I’ve been creating characters ever since I was a little kid. And every character I created had to have some sort of story to justify their appearance and how they related to other characters that I created.
As I continued creating characters and designing costumes, I also started acting in school plays, which exposed me to scriptwriting, drama, all of the necessary literary tools needed to affect a good theatrical production. Of course, being an avid comic book reader and book reader didn’t hurt either. I always wrote little short stories and poems in grade school and high school. I’ve always been attracted to language.
The Horsemen was my “portfolio” piece for the comic book industry. As such, I just wanted to show the powers that be what I could do (i.e. penciling, inking, coloring, design, and writing). It just so happened that people were most attracted to The Horsemen because of my storytelling.
Was the journey difficult? Any help? Any obstacles?
No. Aside from the regular problems writers face (coming up with ideas, finding the “right” word, etc.), I just did it to the best of my ability. Thank goodness that was enough for readers to appreciate my work.
Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?
Words have power. If you can articulate your ideas in a way that people not only understand, but also enjoy, you can influence people. I just try to be responsible with my words. I try to make sure that my voice is a positive one.
Where does that inner drive to write come from?
I love words. I have something to say and I want the whole world to hear my voice. I hope that doesn’t sound to egotistical.
How do you keep readers turning pages?
I always try to have each page be a complete “micro-thought,” which is part of the larger “macro-thought”. At the end of that page, I try to have that “micro-thought” spark a new “micro-thought” (the next page), which when all thoughts are read in sequence, reveals the big picture, so to speak.
I make sure that each “micro-thought” has an impact and delivers an emotional or visceral response to keep the reader not only entertained, but also intrigued and anxious to get that next piece of the puzzle.
How often will you revise and re-write your work?
I try to get it right the first time. So, while I’m writing, I’ll stop at a certain point and look over the work I produced. If it doesn’t “sound” right to me, I’ll “edit in the can.” By doing so, I probably revise maybe once or twice after the script is done. I rarely, if ever, do complete re-writes because I think they’re a waste of time. The only time I’ll actually re-write a piece is if I’ve lost it completely due to a computer glitch (as I am doing with the script for The Horsemen movie right now).
What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?
I listen to music, I’ll watch movies, I’ll daydream, I’ll do stream-of-consciousness, I’ll read, all of the usual tricks.
Sometimes, my best ideas come from joking around with my friends. Comedy is a great catalyst.
What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?
Don’t force it. Unplug. Decompress. Don’t think about it. It’s in those moments of calm that you will replenish yourself and those creative juices will start flowing again.
Do you have a favorite book?
I don’t like to play favorites. My favorite book is most likely the last book I’ve read. However, The Power of Myth, The Hero With An African Face, Wildseed, Black Gangster, Soul On Ice, and Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone pop up in terms of straight literature. When it comes to comics, it ranges from the first twelve issues of The Authority to 100 Bullets, V for Vendetta to Infinite Crisis, Sin City to JLA/Avengers.
Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?
Because of my very tight work schedule, I write when I can. There’s no “magic” hour. Although, I tend to favor working at night when I don’t have to deal with the 9 to 5 grind. Being creative helps me relax.
What is one saying or proverb you live by?
“Know thyself,” “Seize The Day,” and “That which does not kill you will only make you stronger.”
What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?
First, write. Second, write what you know. Third, read. Fourth, be aware of the world around you. Fifth, live life like every day is an adventure.
Where can parents and kids find out more about your work?
Go to: http://www.griotenterprises.com for more info or, just Google my name, Jiba Molei Anderson.
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