By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Manuel Godoy is familiar with children’s books and the adventures they tell but wanted something different for a new series he was publishing.
Godoy, is creator of Black Sands Entertainment and Black Sands, formerly Kids 2 Kings comic book. He is now publisher of Black Sands: The Seven Kingdoms, a cartoon pilot.
Black Sands Entertainment focuses on stories that children of color might not otherwise read or see including “children’s books, adventures about black families traveling the world and having a good time,” he said.
“With Black Sands I thought it was important to talk about an African empire,” Godoy said. “We never talk about that period. We barely ever learn anything about African achievement in history before slavery, so I felt that it was important for children of color to see a story about legends that doesn’t involve European nations.”
Godoy’s wife, Geiszel, is also an author. Her children’s book “Mori’s Family Adventures” is published by Black Sands Entertainment. The story shows an African American family on vacation in South Africa.
“I want to inspire families of color to travel the world,” said Geiszel, who is from Birmingham. “Do something different, exciting . . . . explore the world.”
Geiszel, who was in the Army, said she traveled around the globe and experiencing different cultures was beneficial. The Godoy family now lives in Birmingham.
“You get to learn about other people’s histories, cultures and backgrounds,” she said. “You also want the world to see that African American families do these things (travel). Because what the media portrays of us isn’t always good.”
The Godoy family is only about $6,000 from their $50,000 Kickstarter campaign raising money to create the series which is set in ancient Egypt. The comic book is a story about four royal children traveling the world, battling ancient gods and legendary leaders.
Godoy, who is originally from New York, has been working on the comic for about three years and has always been a history buff.
“I’ve always loved historical fiction,” he said. “So I figured since I knew so much about ancient Egyptians and the Middle East I’d make my own story.”
He also paid attention to how Hollywood handles stories of Ancient Egypt and decided it was time someone put together a high production and accurate story, he said.
It began on social media where Black Sands now has over 130,000 followers.
Godoy said he wants to present a 15-minute animated pilot at next year’s Sundance Film Festival in New York in hopes of getting the pilot picked up as a syndicated show.
The goal is $50,000 for the pilot and $250,000 for the animated film. The online fundraising campaign has been open for about 45 days. “We’ve been pretty fortunate, because it’s been people online supporting us,” he said.
The cartoon has been nominated as the fourth best indie comic of 2017 by Bleeding Cool, a popular comic site, and also was selected for a Hollywood short films festival.
“We keep hearing ‘when’s the next issue coming out?’” he said. “We have a pretty good following on Instagram and Facebook. It’s very grassroots. We don’t get run by mainstream media, but people like AfroPunk and Urban Intellectuals have covered us.”
AfroPunk is an annual arts festival that celebrates African American punk rock through music, film, skate, and art. It also hosts a website, Afropunk.com that tells stories about the African American community. Urban Intellectuals is a site for positive stories and images of the black community.
The main characters of Black Sands show children with afros and dreadlocks. One character has vitiligo.
“We did this character (with vitiligo) because in his (character’s) mythology he is considered the god of disease and famine and we wanted to give him an origin story,” that will portray him as a likeable character, Godoy said. “We want him to be likeable. When you see a kid with a lot of his skin turned white and you think it’s a disease but it’s actually a skin condition… it’s not the end of the world, but to ancient people that can be terrifying.”
The Kickstarter campaign ends on June 16.
“We want to try to get the pilot done in six months and have it premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in New York. It’s an ambitious goal, but I think we can pull it off,” he said.