Jazmin Truesdale is a young, black and gifted serial entrepreneur. As the sole creator and writer of Aza Comics, Truesdale’s got a wicked knack of dreaming up alternate realities where black and brown women are at the forefront. In the Universe of Aza, for instance, varied women of color of all backgrounds and trades put their superpowers to use for the ultimate betterment of society.
“The universe was created for all women, but there is a clear emphasis on women of color because I wanted women from all over the world to be able to see themselves empowered through Aza’s characters,” says the 29-year-old of her brainchild. “The characters were created in a way that women could see themselves living without limitations.”
The characters — their professions varying wildly, from social activist to mechanic to fashion designer — are plucked from the five major ethnic groups of the world. The Aza Universe is thusly broken up into realms that reflect said ethnic groups of the Earth, which is part of what Truesdale calls the 6th Realm, where people from other realms flee to as refugees from the Great War 10,000 years ago.
“It’s what Aza Comics pushes: widening the scope of what women can be in this world,” she told Pondering Nerdcast earlier this summer. “It’s one thing to tell a girl that she can be whatever she wants to be. It’s another to thing to actually show her what that looks like.”
For Truesdale, representation was critical and purposeful, especially with The Keepers — the newly “chosen ones” who are called on to protect the Universe from its greatest threat yet.
“There is Kala, from the Gullah Sea Islands of South Carolina. Adanna, from Mumbai. Fenna, from London. Ixchel (who is Native American, Mayan), from Bogota, Colombia. Amaya, from Seoul, Korea. And Thema is Kala’s mother and was inspired by Janet Jackson,” explains the Durham, NC, representer.
Others, like Genie Dos Santos, were inspired by the likes of Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim. “All I know is that Lil’ Kim’s OG-hardcore-queen-bee-attitude and Nicki Minaj’s goofy sense of humor made an incredible character.”
A recurring and perhaps greater motif of Truesdale’s work, expertly illustrated by Remero Colston, is sisterhood.
“These girls are individuals who all bring something to the team through their specialized powers and strengths. They support each other and stand up for one another in good times and bad. While they battle supervillains and invisible villains like sexism, racism and homophobia, they also have a lot of fun doing it. The storylines educate, but they’re not preachy.”
Let the church say, “Amen.”