Comicmaniac Spotlight: Black Tribbles
In May of last year, I was introduced to the Black Tribbles for the first time when I read an article in the Philadelphia Weekly which you need to read here. After reading the article, I listened to their show and a few weeks later I called in and officially became a member of Tribble Nation (my Tribble name is Hela Tribble).
Whether they’re talking about comics, reviewing films, talking about their favorite sci-fi films, or speaking to folks like Carl Lumbly (ALIAS and the voice of the Martian Manhunter among other things), they’ve got you covered in all things geek with a huge spoonful of humor. They are too cool to be geeks to cute to be nerds. They are the
Can you each introduce yourselves to the readers?
Kennedy: Kennedy Allen, 28 Philadelphia, PA.
Jay: I am the amazing, spectacular, Jay Rich aka Spider Tribble.
Erik: I am Erik Mack, independent filmmaker & entertainer from Philly.
Len: Certainly. My name is Len aka Cruze aka the BatTribble, producer and host of the Black Tribbles.
Randy: Randy Green AKA SuperTribble AKA R-SON the Voice of Reason. MC, Comic book store manager, head of security, and father of two of the most amazing kids in the world.
What gave you all the idea to start Black Tribbles and how did all of you meet?
K: I met Len through an improv troupe we were involved with. When he along with Erik were developing the idea, he brought me aboard!
J: Well, I was friends with Kennedy aka Storm Tribble. She told me about the radio show that she was a part of and wanted to know if I would be interested since I’m known as wacky and nerdy in one neat package.
E: It was quite the chain of events. I actually worked with Len before. It was at ‘Nightmares on Broad St.’, a haunted house attraction, utilizing local talent. Sometime thereafter he directed a short independent film in which Kennedy was an actress sporting a rainbow afro wig, no less. She brought in Jay to replace a previous mistake and we’ve been magic ever since.
L: The REC spoke to my appreciation of music, poetry and grass-roots activism and the Pleazure Principle let me talk about sex openly and frankly but at my heart, I’m a geek. I love comic books, cartoons, movies, sci-fi; all that and I wanted to finally do a show dedicated solely to that! When a fellow geek and friend (at the time) asked me about doing a music show on G-Town Radio, I proposed he help me on this geek show idea and I’ll help develop his idea. The geek idea stuck.
We knew we didn’t want to be called ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’ because we didn’t think that described who we really were. We settled on ‘tribbles’ from Star Trek lore and the rest is history. Erik was a buddy of ours so we brought him in. Randy was my guest on The REC in 2010 to talk about his music and we spent the show talking Superman instead so we asked him to chime in whenever he was able. Kennedy was an old improv comedy buddy of mine who had to remind me how much of a geek she was (a fact she never lets me forget) so she was natural to round out the troupe.
We did 2 shows (plus one secret late night taping) to see how we’d do together and the mix was off, to say the least. Two hosts in general couldn’t put personal issues between them to the side and one chose to leave rather than work things out. Kennedy stepped up and nominated her drinking buddy Jason to take his place. In all honesty, Jay did one show where he got his bearings, learned our names, felt things out and after that, we were gold. The chemistry was perfect and the show began to take shape.
R: I met Len when I came on to his old radio show The Rec. He was a fan of a track that I had sent in and we spent most of the show talking about comics. About a week or so later, we were talking about doing a geek-centric show…
Is the person who left the show “He who shall not be named”? I’ve heard you all mention this person a couple of times and I think there was a Tribbles After Dark about it.
L: The guy left after our 3rd show primarily due to personal beef with Erik and me. He asked to be disassociated with the show but over a year later in August 2012, he started something called Black Tribbles TV on FB and YouTube. We’re taking legal action against him now.
How did you all get into comics and other cool geeky things?
K: After watching comic-based animated shows, I got into the original storylines through comics. My mom’s a big ol’ nerd, too, so I was raised on Star Trek other sci-fi, action flicks, and other geeky stuff.
J: I was always surrounded by comics, and computers. Even at the young age of 12 I was developing games on the Apple IIe. I eventually turned towards drawing and writing comics.
E: I’ve never really been that much into comic books personally. But like every red blooded American, I love superheroes and also movies. Plus I have a wide knowledge base of pop culture. Moreover, discussing alternate realities/possibilities of said culture is a favorite pastime of mine.
L: I don’t remember what my first comic book was but it was likely a 100-page spectacular issue of Batman. I loved the Batman TV show and cartoons. I remember coming home from elementary school to watch Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Superboy and Lone Ranger cartoons. Then it was Marine Boy, The Space Giants, Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot on the Wee Willy Weber Show (yeah, I’m LEGITIMATELY the Gray Tribble). I collected Richie Rich comics; ALL of them! Probably because those and the Archie comics digest were at the checkout counters of the supermarket and closest I could get my Mom to buy comics for me.
My neighborhood friend Fred aka Boo-Boo collected Marvel Comics only. I had never heard of Marvel Comics. He lent me a treasury size Marvel special that had Iron Man versus Sub-Mariner, Daredevil vs. Sub-Mariner as well (drawn by the incomparable Wally Wood) and the epic Hulk vs the Thing with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers to boot! Stan Lee! Jack Kirby! My comic book collection quickly exploded to gargantuan proportions.
Watching Mork & Mindy gave me the license to just be as insane, wild and unfiltered as Robin Williams was every Thursday night @ 8. I fell in love with the freedom. Never again would I repress my ‘geekier’ leanings. It wasn’t always easy but it wasn’t all that hard either.
R: I’ve been a comics fan since I was around 5. Some of the first things I read were comics. Sci-fi and other such things just came naturally. My cousin got me playing D&D when I was around 7 so it all just came together.
Being a geek who happens to be black, I know for me has it challenges. I was made fun of growing up and the majority of my family doesn’t understand me, my sister, or our few cousins who are geeks. What has been your experience?
K: Growing up Black and articulate in this country has its downsides and its upsides like anything else in life. Being a Black, articulate, nerdy woman, if nothing else, has taught me tolerance, patience, and a nerdy righteous indignation. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
J: It has been a terrible, terrible struggle. I lost my color. As I continued to explore what is now geek culture, I was removed from what was perceived as black culture. I was told that I am trying too hard not be white. That seriously bothered me because I refuse to think that acting white meant having ambition and improving your mind. Does that mean failure and ignorance is the representation of being a person of color? The worst part of it was having people of your “shade” consider you a race traitor for wanting to better yourself.
E: To be honest, while growing up. I never considered myself to be a geek. Probably b/c my grades didn’t reflect the title. But I still got picked on nonetheless, b/c of my height. But I never took a step back and analyzed myself back then. My interests were what I was into and I pursued them regardless of anything or anyone.
L: I really don’t remember being picked on much. Because I was a good artist, my classmates were after me to draw Godzilla or superhero pictures for them. My family never balked at anything I did; my parents always supported any individuality that my sisters, my brother or I showed. I think what helped was that, while I reading comics and stuff, I was outside playing basketball and football with all the boys as well. I never played organized sports but I was always at the playground with a ball, getting my Doctor J on. I liked girls and had reasonable success at my age.
I think, also, the hip-hop of my day showed more nuance and diversity of style, technique and lyricism, born of the differing backgrounds of the artists. That individuality was applauded and mirrored in African-American neighborhoods. That would soon change but by then I was in college and very comfortable in my skin.
R: I come from a geek family and most of the dudes on my block and in my school had at least a little bit of geek in them. I watched ST: TNG with two or three other guys (Brian, Darren and Mike) every week. Star Trek, Star Wars, D&D, comics, we did it all. We also did conventions and movies and comic book stores all the time too.
In your opinion, have things changed for the better in the geek universe for lady geeks and what things in your mind need fixing? What is your take on the fake geek girl controversy?
K: Technology has enabled geeky women to find each other and build a sense of community. Fake nerd girls, I guess are welcome to the party – I just hope you know we can smell a fraud a mile away.
J: Things have changed, but new problems have arrived. The acceptance of lady geeks exists, but their treatment of them is horrific. The belittling of women is deplorable. I don’t understand why guys aren’t happy that their are women openly and honestly loving geek culture. Ungrateful jerks. I love that my wife is a geek and a hot one! Beauty and brains is the best ever! How about gorgeous and geeky? Yeah I like that one.
L: I don’t know what the ‘fake geek girl controversy’ is but it SOUNDS like its about girls wearing the trappings of a geek but not being a geek at heart. That’s true of male geeks too, I think, but maybe not to the same extent. But I could be totally wrong so better to say nothing.
As far as lady geeks, the sky is the limit at this point. The internet has leveled the playing field for all science fiction minorities (women, African-Americans, hispanics etc) and there are more and more women behind the scene in comics, movies, television and literature; roles of significance and power. Their contribution is being appreciated. There were just as many men as women who e-shouted about the Gail Simone/DC Comics incident. Fiona Staples is doing amazing artwork on Saga. The women are doing work.
Its the men that have to get it together; who have to stop drawing spandex porn stars in compromising positions. Who have to stop supporting work of that sort. Who have to begin writing realistic level-headed independent women who aren’t bitches or sex-hungry vixens. WE are the ones that are fucked up. We are the ones that need fixing. The ladies are fine.
R: It’s kind of funny. It seems easier to get into it all because the guys want you around but then some of the same guys feel like you have to prove your “geek” twice as much as they would ever have to. I think a lot of the guys need to just relax a bit about the girls in the culture and just deal with them as they would any other dude. Obviously, there’s going to be some tension as there is in any male/female relationships but it’s up the guys who make up the great majority of the cultures to make it more welcoming.
How can those of us in the geek community encourage LBGT’s, people of color, and women who are interested and want to join and be included?
K: Just apply the golden rule: Do unto others as you’d want done to yourself. Treat all nerds as equal, cuz we all had to worry about getting stuffed in that locker.
J: Support projects that are made by the smaller groups and companies because THEY are the ones trying to make a difference. For those who want to be a part of the culture create a group of like minded folk so that you can be each other’s support.
E: I think the easiest way to get everyone involved is to simply invite them via Facebook to come and be a part of the conversation. At least one of our upcoming show topics will be sure to provoke their interest.
L: Not to pat ourselves on the back, but I’ve heard a lot of podcasts start filtering in some feminine color into their lineup as Black Tribbles has grown in popularity. We recognized right from door the need to have a woman’s voice as part of our chorus and that realization is growing. We have an open door policy to our show, allowing any of our fans to sit in on a show and get in on the fun.
And like I said earlier, the internet has leveled the playing field. There is no longer a reason for any community to go unrepresented. We do our shows in studios but we do just as many via a mobile recorder or even an iPhone. YOUR VOICE can be heard. If you need help, holla at me. I’d be glad to help.
R: Like I said, make it more welcoming. Way too many geeks (who, let’s face it, are straight white males) feel like everything in their culture of choice has to reflect them or it’s not as cool. From a creative standpoint, more “minority” (I hate that word) creators should be allowed to tell their stories and not just of “minority” characters. I remember Dwayne McDuffie (R.I.P.) got a lot of flack for writing a JLA book that had 4 black characters (Vixen, Firestorm, Black Lightning and John Stewart). Ignoring the fact that there were TEN other members! More characters, more creators, more input and we’ll have a greater diversity in the audience.
What are your future goals for Black Tribbles, and what can Tribble Nation look forward to?
K: We’re taking over. You can’t deny us. Kirk tried. He failed.
J: Expansion of the Tribble Nation! Welcome your brothers and sisters. Plus the show there will get more of my sexy.
E: Well Tribble Nation has Butt loads to look forward to. We recently started a show on 900am WURD. So expect some great achievements on that front and even on a TV screen near you. One day.
L: Content-wise, coming up we have Robert Greenberger, author of The Unauthorized History of Star Trek; the witty and controversial Husbands web-series and comic book; the art of Young Justice; SYFY Channel’s Movies of the Week; Bill Nye, the Science Guy, an amazing March Madness Tournament special and tons more. We’re also planning to do a tour of Philadelphia comic book stores. And we’re preparing to do our first convention in September 2013, a joint venture with Jason’s J1 Studios called INDEPENDICON. I don’t want to give too many details just yet but its mission is to spotlight the independent creator of comics, music, films and literature. It promises to be big, fun and unique.
Its not really a secret that we’d like to expand the world of Black Tribbles Productions LLC beyond G-town Radio and 900am WURD in Philadelphia. We’re looking into developing a TV component and possibly shopping the show to other national radio stations. We’ve been blessed by the press coverage we’ve had with Philadelphia Weekly and Wizard World and want desperately to build on that momentum. So that means we need representation. Holla at us – email@example.com.
R: We’re trying to expand in any and every direction possible. There’s a world of POC geeks and many of them don’t know that they’re not alone. We’re coming to save them all!
Besides working on Black Tribbles, each of you have other areas of expertise that you work hard and are extremely talented at. Would you care to let Tribble Nation and Comicmaniacs be aware of them?
K: I’m a trained actor and vocalist with seven years of professional experience in improvised comedy and improvised musical theatre in the Philadelphia area. I’m in the process of writing several projects, including film scripts and a sci-fi trilogy that has already mutated several times over. I intend to bring my talents to Hollywood, where I will promptly kick down the door and begin revolutionizing the movie industry.
J: I started a company called J1 Studios. J1 Studios is an entertainment hub that provides, news, reviews, (our own) comics, music, events and more everyday. (www.j1studios.com)
E: As I stated earlier I am an Independent filmmaker. So look for anything produced by AMD Entertainment and love it to death. If you wouldn’t mind.
L: I still do freelance graphic design and art commissions as much as I can. And I enjoy working at G-town Radio a great deal but Black Tribbles has become a 24-7 concern and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I flex my graphic muscles creating the promo flyers and the website, my producing muscles scheduling the shows and booking guests (with Kennedy) and my geek heart talking with the guys and Tribble Nation. Thats all you need to know. You see me, say HEY and lets talk Batman. Marvel. DS9. Whatever…..except Doctor Who.
R: I’m an MC. Been rhyming since kindergarten but really started to take it seriously when I went to PSU and met a cat named Lou (who went on to become known as louislogic) who really got me into it again. Since then I’ve released a solo ep, an album with my partner Ad-Liberal (collectively we’re known as the Flight Brothers) and most recently started rocking the whole world as the touring MC for the bluegrass hip-hop band Gangstagrass. We just put out an album in June and we’re headed back on the road next month. Check us out at gangstagrass.com for show dates. Plus, I’m the father of the two coolest Triblets in the world, ShmooperTribble (my daughter Amaryllis) and AremixTribble (my son Aaron). They make everything I do worthwhile and a bit more awesome.
You can listen to the Black Tribbles live:
LIVE Thursdays @ 9-11p on G-Town Radio and www.gtownradio.com; (215) 609-4301, AOL/Yahoo IM: gtownradio
LIVE Sunday @ 10-11p on 900AM-WURDnd and 900amWURD.com; Join the Conversation – 866-361-0900 or 215-634-8065
If you missed the live show you can listen to their podcast via iTunes, Podomatic, Stitcher, & Zune .
Follow them on Twitter: @BlackTribbles
Like them on Facebook
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