LibraryCon Live! 2018: David F. Walker, Chuck Brown & Sanford Greene On Bitter Root

by Gary Catig

LibraryCon Live! held its second annual show and the virtual festival had many vendors and invited creators from the comics world. In their actual panels, speakers like Karen Berger, Mariko Tamaki and Jeremy Whitley participated in talks while exhibitors like Diamond Book Distributors brought in their own talent like Cullen Bunn and Vita Ayala for more intimate chats.
Another exhibitor, Image Comics, had the team behind the upcoming series, Bitter Root, to promote and provide more insight into their book. David F. Walker, Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene each had their own half hour session to discuss what they brought to the series and interact with the attendees.
Walker was the first to speak and gave a brief description of Bitter Root. It is set during the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance about a family of monster hunters, the Sangeryes, who try to cure the beasts rather than destroy them. In this world, monsters are a byproduct of all the prejudice, intolerance and sexism manifested into a disease. Brown considers these monsters literal creatures of hate while Greene feels they represent a greater and darker force that thrives off of evil. The story takes place in 1924, when the family is now split in their purpose between those who believe in curing and those fed up with losing loved ones, who now want to kill their foes.
Walker was intrigued with the setting since he was fascinated by the juxtaposition between the development of Black America, culturally and artistically, in Harlem to the repressive nature towards African Americans in the South and other places.  Since Bitter Root is a period piece, the creators want to incorporate prominent figures within the story but it will have to be done in context and with historical accuracy. For example, they wanted to have Jack Johnson appear in the story, but they couldn’t have him be the boxing world heavyweight champion since the time period was later.
Brown revealed other tidbits about the book, including that the Underground Railroad was used as a training area for the Sangyere Family and other hunters. Also, for their monsters, there are a mix of classic ones with a twist, and others that appear in African folklore and other cultures. Stylistically, Greene creates their aesthetics by using reference pictures and adding his own take, as well as creating independently based off of descriptions alone. He was highly influenced by Hellboy (Mike Mignola has a variant cover for the first issue).

Greene also showed many of the original artwork for the series or as he likes to call them, exclusive previews. A highlight was the interconnecting covers of the first five issues. In addition, he showed all the #1 variant covers including one with the aforementioned, Jack Johnson, done by Ron Wilson and Greene’s homage to Akira. This cover is limited edition and can be obtained through eBay.
Bitter Root comes out November 14th. If you like a book about empowerment and fighting hate and racism, Brown thinks this is the book for you. You can learn more about the series from Tito James’ interview with Walker and Green and can read an advanced review here.

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