How awesome would it have been as a child to wake up early in the morning before school to come across a cartoon series with characters that resemble your own community or to learn about your ancestors through a cosmic journey? The ability to create a narrative that positively reflects brown and black people’s inhibition to persevere while entertaining is one man’s gift to his children and to the children around the world. We’ve had the honor to speak with publisher Manuel Godoy of Black Sands Entertainment to learn more about his inspiration for building a new cultural wave for generations to come.
Where did the idea to become a comic book writer stem from?
I originally wanted to make video games and created the Black Sands Universe to make an RPG, role-playing game franchise. Once I realized the cost of production was higher than I anticipated, I quickly changed to comics and picked young heroes similar to what is found in Japanese mangas.
How important is it to show a positive representation of black and brown kids?
It’s important for children of color to see in cinema the greatness and dominance of their ancestors. Black Sands Entertainment is focusing on highlighting black excellence in our storytelling, both in character narrative and design. We execute this in all of our content including our children’s book Mori’s Family Adventure where we feature a black family complete with a father, mother and their children on the cover. This is not something we see often, a traditional family of color on the front of a book for young readers.
Explain the messaging found throughout the Kids 2 Kings series?
Black Sands, formerly known as Kids 2 Kings, is a story about the journey and evolution of young prince Ausar, as he tries to prove he has what it takes to become Pharaoh but a war breaks out between seven kingdoms, and now it’s up to him and his kin to save the world.
It has the feel of a Japanese Shonen, which is manga generally aimed at a teenage readership of boys age 12 to 18. With Black Sands, we incorporate characters for the enjoyment of both boys and girls and incorporate setting and narrative in a style familiar to black people.
What impact does society have in your storytelling?
I try to incorporate the modern black experience in our story passively and teach international politics through the relationships between the nations in the story. I also feature the strength and influence of women in the narrative.
Tell us what role your wife/family plays in your entrepreneurial journey.
My wife is my partner. She oversees distribution channels, outreach to the media and booking conventions. She also writes amazing children’s books, the first being Mori’s Family Adventure. I trained her in our marketing approach and now she executes seamlessly. Entrepreneur life can be lonely at times and it’s a great thing for me to have my wife as a partner in building the Black Sands brand. My children, keep me alert and on my toes. Their wild imagination often gives me ideas.
What lessons are you teaching your children directly to prepare them for life’s obstacles?
I teach my kids to identify with black history and black excellence. I feel it is important for my children to feel they are the heroes of their story. Studies have shown the psychological effects the media has on our children and it is my job to counter it.
What have you learned thus far on your journey?
The thing I’ve learned the most in starting Black Sands Entertainment is how to run and grow a business. Our success has been rapid and with each new milestone, I learn more skills. Fortunately, my wife helps with this process and she is efficient at skills I do not have, namely organization and inventory tracking.
I also learned that black consumers will support their own harder than anyone contrary to popular belief. We produce quality content that is visually and creatively competitive with what major publishers are producing and our consumers show their appreciation by purchasing for themselves and others. You have to be competitive and you cannot blame a consumer for not buying your product or service.
In the days of reality television, what tactics are you using to attract young readers?