I am a long term fan of Rodney Barnes’ work on The Boondocks, which I declare as one of the best modern social satires to have ever hit television, ahead of my second most beloved social satires, Futurama. The Boondocks took the struggles of race, class, and caste and tore them apart, made them into caricatures of epic proportions and made some of the most enduring characters in media history.
Yet I admit to realizing I did not know him as a writer. When I was preparing to moderate his appearance on the Storytellers panel on Virtuous Con, I made a foray into his written work and was enthralled with the story in his most recent thrilling series, Killadelphia. Produced by Image Comics, and created by award winning writer/producer Rodney Barnes (Marvel’s Runaways, Starz’s American Gods) and artist Jason Shawn Alexander (Spawn) Killadelphia is one of the darkest modern stories of the supernatural I’ve read in years.
Since I refuse to reveal anything about the story because, well, you need to be there, you will have to let me Vaguebook you into finding, buying and supporting this great piece of genre fiction disguised as a comic series. But I will tell you this, it isbecoming a television series and I can’t wait to see who will be bringing this magnificent beast to life.
The flow of the story is modern noir, with angst-filled angry detectives, in a modern Philadelphia, corrupt, violent and hopeless. If it never strayed beyond this outline, it would be enough as the heavily shadowed artwork, the grainy lines and pursed lips revealed a world filled with endless man-made sorrows – a world richly designed by Jason Alexander, whose artwork reminds me of the old-school black and white horror movies of my youth.
Bouncing between time periods and a wide array of characters, Killadelphia tells a story of dark patriotism, cruelty, supremacy and supernatural threats, while centering the story about a Black father and son with unresolved grief between them.
A fine cast of characters permeate the story, each with their own deeply realized ambitions, often at odds with each other, and yet those motivations are rich and complex showcasing a nuanced story. I absolutely recommend the Image Comics series and can’t wait to see it realized on any screen, large or small. I promise, once this series takes a bite out of you, you’re hooked.
Spotlight on Rodney Barnes
From Adult Swim’s The Boondocks to Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga, award-winning screenwriter and producer Rodney Barnes has displayed versatility across a variety of genres in the industry’s most influential programs, securing him an overall deal with HBO in September 2020.
Barnes is currently executive producer for HBO’s Showtime series, which chronicles the lives of the 1980s Showtime Lakers during the team’s wild and fast-paced golden years, and showrunner/writer/creator of Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, a TV show based on Michael Bennett’s book of the same name in development with John Wells at HBO Max.
The second arc of Barnes’s critically acclaimed graphic novel Killadelphia was released in August 2020 with a television show in development at Levantine TV. He has also been tapped to pen a creative feature for New Regency with Jordan Vogt-Roberts attached to direct, and is writing a miniseries based on the life of golf great Tiger Woods.
Alongside Killadelphia and three new Image Comics titles coming in the Spring of 2021, Barnes has penned Marvel Comics’ The Falcon, Marvel/Lucasfilm’s Lando: Double or Nothing based on the character Lando Calrissian from the Star Wars franchise and Quincredible for the Lion Forge imprint.
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