Today is Martin Luther King Day. One of the most prominent leaders of the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, MLK famously gave his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, calling for equality of all people, regardless of race, colour or language. Every January 18th in the US is celebrated as a day to remember his message of peace and legacy to the global campaign for racial equality (which is still relevant today).
In celebration of MLK’s speech, I’ve curated this gallery of selected pieces of my own artwork featuring black, Asian, Hispanic or indigenous characters in a prominent role (as of December 2015/January 2016). It is worth noting that before 2009, all my characters (at least the human ones anyway) were white, possibly reflecting my living in a northern English town with a tiny ethnic population (me and my own family included, as they are of Colombian heritage). However, much later on I realized the world is not whitewashed – of course, there are people of other colours too – so I began to create some black characters, starting with American Boys. Afterwards, in American Boys‘ Canadian successor Canadian Boys, I significantly began to increase the number of characters from other ethnicities to create a more diverse character roster and reflect the make-up of the real world more accurately. Since geography is the driving force behind all my series now, whenever a character’s origins require that they be a certain race (such as an Inuit being tanned or a person of African/Caribbean origin being black), I will choose the ethnicity that will most suit them.
I have a dream that one day all my characters will represent the true colours of the real world, just as MLK himself dreamt of a world where children (and adults) of all colours could peacefully come together.