The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: Issue #1, Cover Art by: Mark Hernandez (Pencils & Inks) and Sharifa Patrick and June Park (Colors)

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker Writer / Creators, Shawnelle Gibbs (L) and Shawnee´Gibbs (R) Photography by Sean Kennedy

Art from The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: Issue #1

Writers, Shawnelle Gibbs (L) and Shawnee´Gibbs (R) Photography by Sean Kennedy

COMIC BOOK WRITERS THE GIBBS SISTERS LAUNCH THE INVENTION OF E.J. WHITAKER ISSUE #1

 

 

Comic book writers, Shawneé and Shawnelle Gibbs are set to debut the first issue of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, a story which combines elements of historical fiction and steampunk to tell the story of a young female college student’s quest to become an inventor at the dawn of the 20th Century.

 

 

The Story: When Ada Turner, a Tuskegee University Student, invents the world's first flying machine under a male pseudonym, she’s quickly introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We love action and adventure stories. As kids, we gobbled everything up from Steven Spielberg and spent way too many hours watching cartoons (laughs). But as young black girls, even though we adored pop culture entertainment, we were always aware of being outsiders looking in. It’s been our goal to tell stories that feature women of color of all ages in stories where female characters of color aren’t often found. So placing  Ada, our main character, in the old boys club of invention in the 1900s beckoned us. In the story, Ada is a complete rebel by Victorian standards and we definitely love every minute of writing for her.”

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sisters work by day as producers in television and write and produce projects for comics, film and animation in their spare time. In 2016, The Invention of E.J. Whitaker was one of those projects the Gibbs Sisters were developing when they began considering crowdfunding as an option. After months of wringing their hands, the sisters decided to create a Kickstarter campaign to bring The Invention of E.J. Whitaker to life in February of 2016.

 



“We were terrified,” says Shawnelle. “We’d done lots of comic and animation projects before but we’d self-funded them on our own or through film grants. We’d waited a year before launching the Kickstarter. Fear set in before we hit the launch button. We worried “Will anyone be interested in a black steampunk story set in the 1900’s? A lot of our concept art was in Sepia—I know that Sepia, like black and white films, could be off-putting for some people.”



 

To their surprise the sisters overfunded the project by $10,000, which was enough to fund two comic book issues. “It was one of our greatest lessons in facing down your fears and taking the leap anyway.”

 

 

 

The response to the story has been overwhelming for the sisters. “Though this story is set over a hundred years ago, it’s interesting how so many things are still very relevant today,” says Shawnee´. “It was our goal to tell a STEM story which empowers young women, and though the story is set in Alabama in 1901 and the politics and technology have changed a bit, women are still facing challenges for equal pay and recognition across all industries and black and latino communities are still incredibly underrepresented in science and technology fields in 2018. We're hoping that young women (and men) are able to see themselves in Ada and be empowered to create new ideas that can change their communites--and ultimately change the world.

 

 

 

Shawnelle adds, “The Invention of E.J. Whitaker has given us the really fun opportunity to re-imagine history. The 1900s were a really exciting time for innovation in the Western World. So using history as our guide, we were able to re-imagine a time just before the Wright Brothers took their first flight in 1903, when a young dreamer from Tuskegee, Alabama dares to go against the beliefs and social norms of the day and dare to fly.

 

 

 

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, Issue #1 will be available for purchase March 5th, 2018 at htttp://www.ejwhitaker.com

 

 

 

 

The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: Issue #1

Written By: Shawnee´Gibbs, Shawnelle Gibbs

Pencils by: Mark Hernandez

Colors by: Hasani McIntosh

Inks by: Shanna Lim

Short Story Art by: Earl Womack

Letters by: Emi Roze

Cover Art by: Mark Hernandez, June Park, Sharifa Patrick

Copy Editor: Lauren Burke

Published by: BopSee Books

Release Date: Friday, March 30th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

Still from the Gibbs Sisters' Tribeca Film Institute-sponsored animated short film, Sule and The Case of The Tiny Sparks

Art from The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: Issue #1

(click to enlarge)