I’ve been bummed about a thing for the last couple of years. I had a story that I’ve been developing for a long time. I wrote maybe 75% of the screenplay, and it’s called Delta Washington vs The Zombies. The very first seed of the story was “What if there was a zombie apocalypse in a Pam Grier movie” because I thought that that would be a really fun movie to watch. It would take place in the 70s and have a lot of the old Blaxploitation tropes. It was going to be horror/comedy hybrid. But then Black Dynamite came along and did the Blaxploitation tribute far better than I ever could have hoped to, or had the right to. I realized, ultimately, that as a white guy I had no business trying to insinuate myself into that arena.
So instead, I changed directions and wrote (most of) the screenplay as a straight forward zombie horror movie, with heavy comic book influences. There was a “villain” who was very much a comic book villain, and I kept the lead character, Delta Washington, as the kind of character that Pam Grier might have played in a more straight forward, Hollywood movie. Smart, attractive, flawed, politically aware and with an arch that forced her to step up and be a badass, as most zombie movie heroes do. I like that story. I like my approach to the genre in that story, and I really, really loved that character. Delta Washington was a fucking great character.
Then The Walking Dead came along, and Michonne shows up and is a super badass black woman totally dominating all zombies. She had a signature weapon, like Delta (though Delta’s wasn’t a sword exactly) and a no-bullshit attitude. I figured that since TWD had pretty much done the tough, black woman fighting zombies thing, that my story was now irrelevant. So I just stopped developing it entirely.
But then I was thinking about it last night, and I realize how incredibly stupid that is. And frankly, kind of racist when I didn’t even realize it. Why can’t there be more than one badass black woman fighting zombies? It’s not like there’s one spot in all of zombie pop-culture for a black woman to occupy. She’s different from Michonne. She has a different history, a different way of dealing with characters, and a different role in the broader story. Besides, how many generic fucking white guys have starred in zombie movies? It’s a stupid reason not to write a story. If anything, the fact that there’s only really one badass black chick fighting zombies in pop culture (unless you count Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later, which I do actually) is all the more reason to write MORE diverse characters. I wrote that character because I felt like there was a distinct lack of that kind of representation, so what, I’m going to just throw the whole thing out because there’s ONE other character out there that happens to also be brown? That’s idiotic.
So I will write Delta Washington vs The Zombies. Maybe not next, but eventually. It’s on deck. Maybe I’ll let zombies cool off a bit first, since I already dove into vampires in the middle of a massive backlash. But it’s in the pipeline.
I’ve recognized that the characters in Bloodletting are overwhelmingly white and I’m actually taking that into consideration as I’m move forward. There are more characters coming down the line, and I’m planning on adding some color to the stream. The lack of ethnic diversity so far has frankly been out of my own experience. I’m not a particularly social person and for the last 15 years I’ve lived in a place where I’m surrounded almost entirely by white people. Most of my own experience has been decidedly vanilla, racially, and I’m working on broadening my vision a little. Also, because I’m writing about vampires, my brain goes to pale skin as the aesthetic. But I recognize that as a content creator, it’s important to take that opportunity to bring more diversity into my work, and I’m going to make an effort to do more of that as I go forward.