AMC has long been invested in the genre television game. Hit shows like The Walking Dead have brought major clout to their network. Recently they have been picking up books for adaptation, such as the world of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Now AMC has picked up a novella called Sorcerers for adaptation. The book was written by Maurice Broaddus and Otis Whitaker. It is an illustrated novella featuring art by Jim Mahfood. His style will almost certainly influence the art direction of the show. Let’s take a look at what we know about the upcoming Sorcerers coming to AMC.
Image via NeoText
The Sorcerers novella is a fairly recent release, and was released by NeoText, a new digital publishing company. The story is described as a ‘psychedelic urban fantasy’ about a young man from Harlem who becomes a “hip-hop inspired sorcerer.” What exactly this means is up in the air. Will he rap incantations? Because that sounds pretty sweet.
According to a press release “Sorcerers tells the story of Malik Hutchins, who at thirty years old is the black sheep of one of the most successful families in Harlem.” Malik is a struggling creative who ghostwrites for local rappers. He gets into trouble when he mistakenly sells the same verse to two different people.
“On his beloved grandfather’s deathbed, Pop-Pop reveals that Malik is a sorcerer, in the great tradition of African sorcery born on the plains of the rift valley before the beginning of time. Malik is thrown headlong into a quest that winds through the streets of Harlem, to the rural South, and places much farther beyond, places he’s only visited in dreams…”
This epic quest narrative is familiar to fans of the fantasy genre. The fact that it takes place in modern day and the journey takes Malik through areas unconventional to the formula is a refreshing take on the classic hero’s journey.
“Now it’s Malik’s turn to step up and take his place as wielder and guardian of an ancient magic passed down through generations in order to protect the family, the people of Harlem, and the world from the forces of dark magic connected to the worst aspects of American history and the fearful creatures it has unleashed.”
African inspired fantasy is a significant subset of genre fiction. Far too often it is written by white authors with little understanding of history and cultural significance. When written by black authors, it is often ignored or regarded as lesser in some way. However, it appears that the genre is slowly starting to shift. More authors of color are rising in prominence. And many of them are writing fantasy and science fiction based in the black experience.
Trouble The Saints | Image via Tor
We recently reviewed the excellent Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson. This novel explores the lives of people of color through the lens of magical realism. And of course there is the acclaimed epic African fantasy Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. That book was written specifically to combat the dominant white fantasy narrative. We must also mention the Children of Blood and Bone series by Tomi Adeyemi, that draws from West African mythology. That series has already been optioned by Lucasfilm.
These are only a few of the excellent genre books by black authors that center the black experience, and African mythology. With so much conversation around Black Lives Matter happening in the world, many fans are seeking to diversify their reading. This opens the genre for more authors of color. And for much genre fiction, adaptation to film or television is a natural next step.
Will Sorcerers be the start of a new wave of black fantasy on television? We can only hope so. It is refreshing to see a story written by black men – about their own culture – optioned for television. AMC would also do well to hire writers of color to work on this project. It would also be a good idea to cast an actual rapper in the lead role. Hey, maybe Childish Gambino is available?
We will be sure to bring you updates for the upcoming Sorcerers show on AMC. For more genre news be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today.
Emily O’Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.