Comic writer Keith Underwood unveils Black history of California

Generations of stories passed down

Keith Underwood is telling the untold and underrepresented stories of the West Coast.

The former publicist turned comic book creator sees no end in sight for his creative leanings, and he wants to share it with the world.

Recently, Underwood stopped by rolling out to discuss his comic book series, “Califa -And The Timeless Sentries.”

Why do you push Afrofuturism in your art?

After years of being a publicist and making other people millions of dollars, I said, “Keith, let’s create our own IP.” So I just went back to something I love, which has always been comic books. Definitely, that representation had to be there.

I’m from California. I’ve been hearing this story of Calafia, this dark-skinned Black Amazon queen who California was named after. A lot of people don’t know that. So I did some research, and I found yes, Calafia, California. The place she comes from is called the “Isle of California” in the original book from the 1400s.

So California was named after a Black woman?

Yes! From a fictional work that was written back in the 1400s, but she was an obscure character. A very small character and I didn’t like the way the story ended where all of her beliefs and her way of life became a more European way of life.

The genre that I play around with is called alternate history. It’s where you take things from fiction or history and you remix it. You change it up a little bit.

I didn’t wanna alter the original source material, but I said, “What if this happened after that? After the original story, this is what happened after that.”

Of course, [Calafia] had to have a crew to roll with. She had to have some people around her, some supporting cast members, and I said, I don’t want it to be just us because the truth of the matter is yes. We believe in us, and we support us, but no man is an island. We don’t live in this world alone. So I picked some other diverse characters from classic literature to surround her with and put them in another dimension, where they can all exist and have adventures together.

Anthony Mackie was recently in the news for inferring Black Panther hasn’t been the best thing for Black people in Marvel because everyone in the movie’s Black. Is this also the case with your comic characters?

Exactly, and without just being a supporting role when there is a crossover. Most of our characters are Black, like Calafia [spelled “Califa” in the comic], she is a sister. Sir Morien The Black Knight, that’s a brother. Dawn Henry’s also a sister. Sycorax might look like a White girl, but no, she’s just Becky with the good hair. So, most of our main characters are of African descent, but we can’t live in society alone. That’s not realistic.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:

Also read

Watch this video

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter

Get notified about new articles