Spirit's Destiny: Exploring Haitian Culture in Comics, An Interview w/ Dorphise Jean

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 02:58

Dorphise Jean is an up and coming Haitian comic book writer, currently working on a project called Spirit’s Destiny which features a Haitian woman of color as its starring hero. I had the pleasure of talking to Dorphise for a little bit about her journey and discuss her thoughts on black women within the comic book industry. Spirit’s Destiny #1 is already out and available for purchase and #2 is on the way.

IVWall: Thanks Dorphise for taking a few minutes to talk with me! I guess we can start off with asking simply how did you get into writing?

I began writing when I was 7. I used to write little short stories of things I used to imagine. Then when I started watching shows like Batman and I started thinking of different scenarios as if I was a superhero how I would of handled them, thanks to Batman and Superman.

IVWall: That’s awesome, Batman and Superman are some of the big icons. When did you decide that you’d start going professional with your writing?

Well, I decided in 2014 after coming from the comic book store and I told myself "I can do this." I contacted my friend Terry Alec to design my character and from there we created Spirit. I wanted to create a character that represented my culture and was a reflection of me.

IVWall: That sounds very much like the comic book shop spoke to you on another level, haha. Now I understand that Destiny is a Haitian character. This is something very rarely seen in the industry today. Can you speak to how much your culture had an impact on the character? What should we expect to see as far as your culture in the book?

I wanted to show fans how our culture differs from there's. I wanted to show people that Haitians are much more than just voodoo. They are experienced hunters and strong minded individuals. You should expect to learn a new language. I will be add Creole in the following issues. Spirit will undergo lots of obstacles with abnormal abilities and life.

IVWall: It’s great when readers can go into a book, and learn something about a new culture as a result of the experience. Can you tell us a little about Spirit? What kind of character is she? What kind of story is Spirit’s Destiny in general?

Spirit is an oblivious, funny, compassionate, ambitious and amicable individual. Spirit’s Destiny is a superhero, teen and sci-fi comic. It is basically about a teenage girl who restores order in her city.

IVWall: That sounds fun! I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate to the character. I’ve already read the first issue and I love her. What sorts of things inspired her and the book?

Well my need for releasing my creative side. I always wanted to create a character children of Haiti can look up to. So, I would have to say my son and children inspired me to write this series.

IVWall: So we know you’re a great writer, is this your primary job or do you still have a regular job as well?

Well I work as an arm guard at a water plant. It is hard because since I'm a supervisor I often get distracted and overworked. So it places me on a hiatus. I wish I could make Spirit Destiny full time.

IVWall: Do you sometimes find it difficult to balance things out with work and projects like Spirit’s Destiny?

Yes, because something is always coming up at work. Like for example, if I schedule time to write on my off day, Boom! Something happens at work where I go in and have stop everything I'm doing. It can be quite depressing.

IVWall: I can definitely understand how that can be frustrating. I wish I could take my own writing on full times myself. So, aside from writing, what else do you do? Do you do any art, or thought about acting, anything like that?

I am currently learning animation and practicing drawing right now. I want to give voice acting a try one of these days.

IVWall: What kinds of things are you into, fandomwise? What do you like?

I love Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, Silk and Wonder Woman

IVWall: I love ALL of those! Ms. Marvel and Wonder Woman especially. Do you think Destiny will end being the kind of hero that is as mentally strong as Wonder Woman, or more fun and quirky like Ms. Marvel?

I would say both due to her personality. But we will see in due time as I continue to develop her character.

IVWall: What are your thoughts on black women in the comic book industry, as writers, artists editors, etc.? They are out there but to me it doesn’t seem they get enough recognition. What do you think can be done to help improve this?

I really love how we evolved so much. Look at the first black woman to write comics for Marvel. We are emerging in this industry with loads of talent. Maybe they should be marketed more or collab with other black creator/artist or writer and create mayhem with a series that will turn heads.

IVWall: Do you have anyone in the industry that inspires you?

Afua Richardson and Erika Alexander

IVWall: Before I let you go, is there anything you'd want to say to aspiring creators or specifically aspiring women of color creators?

If writing comics or screenplays is something you wish to do just go for it because at the end of the day you are valuable. When I first started I was told a black woman as a comic writer is rare. So for me to be in the position I am in now, I am so grateful and I want us to create a bigger platform to show people we are talented and deserve to be on the spotlight as one the greats.

IVWall: Thank you again Dorphise for sharing with us.

You can find Dorphise Jean on twitter at:

Sceritz

Sceritz is John B. Robinson IV and John B. Robinson IV is a cosmic blerd with a passion for a obliterating the the IVth Wall and setting free the hordes of geek and fandoms scattered throughout the multiverse in the form of rants of epic proportions. Creator of IVWall.net.