So it was thanks to fellow BNP editor and reviewer Leslie, that up and coming, young, blazing creative Kevin Betou popped up on my radar. She first met him at her local comic book shop when he had his first self-published comic Blackman. At the time he was a senior in high school and he’d printed 150 copies and he sold them all out that day. Since then I’ve been following him on Instagram, watching him refine his craft, going all out on fanart and original pieces and just being an overall charming guy to follow. Now he’s using Kickstarter to help get the funds for this newer project, Tempo — a thrilling, afrofuturist comic that combines fast-paced action with music that makes for an amazing read.
It Starts With A Girl…
BNP was sent the exact issue that the crowdfunding is aiming to get printed — I was ecstatic to be able to sit down and pour over it ahead of time. This comic opens to narration of music being super important in this world. The music means nothing until significance and meaning is to assigned to it, be that entertainment, hobbies, career, even escape — in these contexts, it is a power. A power called Tempo and it is a sort of “quirk”, if I can borrow phrasing from My Hero Academia. People can physically manifest music. This power, Tempo, is what helps defines you. Your Tempo is what aids you. Your Tempo can be a tool and it can most certainly be a weapon. Enter Baako, a headstrong young woman with the best clapbacks and one liners for days.
A no-nonsense type, Baako’s looking for information and a person. She bites the bullet to get closer to obtaining that while we, the readers learn she’s possibly been involved in some tragic accident from her past which has left a bunch of misunderstandings and accusations in her path. Her Tempo, a powerful one, is linked to this event and it’s left her unable to have much to choose from in the friends department. This action adventure story combines elements of hip-hop and fantasy. It is fascinating to see this manifestation through the few tempos we get to see this issue in all its brilliant eye-candy on the pages.
The artwork presents a visually stunning place of Black folks of all shades and hues in a setting where Afrofuturism got married to Fantasy and we’re simply along for the honeymoon.
“There’s this overwhelming feeling of excitement every time I think of a scene or a story arc. When I think of a new character, and what they’ll wear, and what they listen to I crack a smile.
Every time I listen to music these days I think about which characters the song fits best with. During my job my mind will wander thinking about massive landscapes and fantastical creatures.
I guess what I’m saying is, the reason I made Tempo is simply because I couldn’t not make it.” -Kevin Betou
Supporting Indie and Small Press
The KS campaign page mentions that you’ll want to read Tempo if you like Samurai Champloo, The Boondocks, Magi: The Labyrinth, or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
I loved this book twelve pages in, it is a comic that is influenced by a number of beloved properties including 2018’s Black Panther yet manages to stand on its own with a really cool premise that is slowly revealed in the #1 issue. Can you say Blackety Black Cool? Look, Everybody and they mama has the flyest hairstyles, there’s fresh kicks to be found and several spots that will have you laughing — the dialogue is on point here, for sure.
There’s a dope party, juvenile antics and the coolest clothing and costumes that I could see cosplayers making it work. At the end of this issue, Baako has something important stolen from her and this is the first piece of a bigger story of her on a quest to get it back, along with what else has been taken from her. There’s seems to be a great friendship on the horizon and new lessons for her to have to face head on. Take my word for it, Tempo is not something to be just read, it is a comic to devour, to consume and to experience. You won’t want to miss this one.
See the Kickstarter campaign’s page here. Kevin has everything under the sun for rewards in different pledging tiers: digital and physical copies of the comic, sketches and prints, rare and limited edition branded apparel and even the chance for you, yourself to be included as a character in the Tempo universe!