My eyes just about fell out of my head when this oh-so-cool comics project popped up on the site. The series takes a hardcore leading lady called Ms. Pussyfooter and puts her in post-Katrina New Orleans in the style of a classic Western and to the tune of Afrobeat, with some Kurosawa-style samurai action mixed in and eye-popping artwork inspired by Fela Kuti's iconic Afrobeat album covers. The illustrations, done by James Velasquez, stem from live-action film and photography, and then Lennie Hsiao, the other half of Revofooter, adds in her script. I wanted to talk to somebody — anybody! — with a hand in this mixed-media, mixed-ethnicity super creation. Thankfully, Lennie was willing to take to the stand!
How on earth did you come up with this mashup of Afrobeat + Western + New Orleans + samurai? How does each element communicate what's on your mind?
I have always been a major fan of classic movies, and my favorite director of all time is Akira Kurosawa. After Katrina, I underwent a lot of chaos and drama in my life, most of them having to do with the external world — New Orleans — and the internal — my disenchantment with the social world. I saw Seven Samurai and felt so connected with the film and in particular the main character. After watching samurai films, I found a logical connection in Western films, particularly Sergio Leone's, who remade these films or borrowed cinematic techniques, themes, and character archetypes from Kurosawa. Examples of this are Leone's remakes of Yojimbo as Fistful of Dollars or Seven Samurai as Magnificent Seven.
So, after being disillusioned from my time post-Katrina, I wanted to find a source of inspiration that was positive. Music in New Orleans has always been part of my life; so has Afrobeat. New Orleans music has maintained a connection to African music through its earliest roots in Congo Square to the Black Indians tradition, which carries on to the present day. Throughout its evolution, New Orleans music has always responded to its sociopolitical climate, providing a sense of community, voice, and identity for those marginalized in a chaotic place. Afrobeat was a movement coined by Fela Kuti, in which artists spoke out against violent tyranny and similar political climates to those found in New Orleans. Afrobeat music could be used, as Fela once described, as "the weapon of the future." The sounds and vibrations of Afrobeat and New Orleans jazz and funk have the same effect, uplifting me into a believable dimension, one in which I can believe that though racial, political, and social injustice issues are a hard-hitting reality in this city, it can still be overcome.
To sum that up, I wanted to use a Western genre format to describe my sense of being a strolling stranger in a corrupt town and also come in riding on a wave of funk.Read more