Public Domain Character, Koroo, the Black Lion, Coming to XEI
I’ve started a new comic project that I’m really excited about. It’s been shifting around in my head (and in brainstorm notes) since about 2010. It’s an idea inspired by a public domain, golden age, lion with black fur named Koroo.
You see, every so often, I slip into this mood where I hunt down old golden age comics, specifically those released in the early 40s for some reason, and experience them–I write “experience” instead of “read”, because reading golden age comics isn’t anything like reading modern day comics. Golden age comics carry within their subtext a piece of history. This subtext is sometimes (almost regularly) uncomfortable in its portrayal of non-Caucasian cultures and women in general; otherwise, the stories are remarkably straight-forward and inviting to imaginative exploration.
One such find, during one of these nostalgic moods, led me to find “Cyclone Comics #1”, published by Bilbara Publishing in 1940. One of the short stories in “Cyclone Comics #1” features a black lion character named Koroo. Unfortunately, only “Cyclone Comics #5” is archived in digital form, but thankfully, also features Koroo.
Ideally, I’d’ve loved to read all of Koroo’s appearances (Cyclone Comics 1-5), but this issue #1 short was enough to get my imagination flowing. This appearance was only 2 pages long (which you can enjoy below). What set my imagination on a journey was even less than the measly 2 pages of comic story, it was the very first introductory caption text:
Koroo is a most unusual lion for, instead of being tawny in color, he is black from his fierce bushy mane to his long tufted tail. Superstitious natives believe him to be an evil spirit, but to the other denizens of the jungle, Koroo is the monarch–king of all he surveys–
This next comic project will be 4 issues long, 22-page issues, and already has an artist attached: Claudio Muñoz.
I can’t wait to show how the words “superstitious natives”, “evil spirit”, and “monarch… of all he surveys” comes together in a tale about a lion who has to overcome ostracization and discover new selfless purpose to protect those who would reject him. It’s “Lion King meets H.P.Lovecraft”, and I so can’t wait to share the first few pages as soon as they’re done!