Black Couple’s Comic Book Company creates characters that look like them – and their children

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When Manuel and Geiszel Godoy got married and had children 14 years ago, they began to pay attention to a shocking phenomenon: they couldn’t find comic books for their children with characters that resembled them.

But Manuel and Geiszel decided not to accept the situation just like that. Instead, they formed seven years ago Black Sands Entertainment, a Delaware-based company that produces comic books and graphic novels for young readers in the black community. They feature black characters who tell stories of ancient Africa. “I didn’t want to constantly see only Hollywood versions of the ancient cultures of Africa,” says Manuel.

Now with $3 million in revenue, the company is focusing on a strategy to drive growth, primarily through sales to schools.

Boot up

Manuel and Geiszel were both stationed in the military in the early 2000s, mostly in Germany, she for three and a half years, he for six, but they met after leaving the army. They each took different degrees, Manual in economics, Geiszel in fashion design and fashion management. (She also had a degree in management). Six months after meeting, they got married. Then came kids – and the inspiration for their business.

The company’s first year was tough. The couple planned to get into video games. But they hadn’t negotiated how much that would be. After spending thousands of dollars, they decided it was time to turn. So they raised $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign and moved into comics with a book called Children 2 Kings. Since that time, they have produced nearly 50 comic book chapters – 12 series, each with multiple chapters. The comics are distributed through Uitgeversgroep West.

In 2021, the company launched an app for content creators who did not have their own platform. “We wanted to make sure they got a lot of attention,” says Manuel. Black Sands also brought in a number of those artists.

Stimulate growth

More recently, the company shut down the app, part of a strategy to focus on faster growth. “We need to get bigger to really make a difference in the culture,” says Manuel.

With that in mind, the Godoys spend $500,000 hiring a team of salespeople who specialize in the education market as part of a strategy to sell to school districts and libraries. They recently signed a deal with the Birmingham, Ala school district. For $37,000. They also just held two virtual professional development sessions with librarians and educators in New York City and Washington, DC. “We teach them how to use comic books and graphic novels in the classroom to get kids to read more,” says Manuel.

In January 2022, the Godoys appeared on the show Shark cage. Comedian Kevin Hart, a special guest, and regular Mark Cuban agreed to invest a total of $500,000 for a 30% stake. The deal later fell through, but the publicity, says Manuel, “was huge for us.” The company also plans to raise $2 million through Wefunder; they kick off the campaign on May 7. And it’s time to make video games again, too, “now that we have the resources to do it,” says Manuel.

“We wanted to create content for the next generation, with heroes that reflected them and their ancestral upbringing,” says Manuel. “Every child should be aware of their heritage and their culture.”