Founded by Manuel Godoy and his wife, Geiszel Godoy, Black Sands Entertainment is a Birmingham, Ala., startup publisher focused on releasing comics, chapter books, and picture books aimed at black parents and their children. The Godoys are military veterans (though they met after leaving the military), and they work together to guide the company as well as produce much of its content.
Black Sands Entertainment currently publishes an ongoing comics series called Black Sands: The Second Kingdoms. Originally called Kids 2 Kings, the series tells the story of a young boy growing up in a fictional ancient African kingdom who rises to become its king. In addition, the house publishes Sons of Nibiru, a series of prose sci-fi/fantasy novellas also set in the Black Sands’ fictional pharaonic African kingdom. Both series are written by Manuel Godoy, with art for the comics and illustrations for the novellas provided by David Lenormand.
Black Sands also publishes Mori’s Family Adventures, an ongoing series of picture books by Geiszel Godoy and Lenormand that follows a modern African-American family as they travel around the world learning about local culture. The first book, Mori’s Family Adventures: South Africa, is the story of a trip to South Africa, and the new book is Brazilian Culture Exchange by Geiszel Godoy with art by Huan Lim, which follows the family on a trip to Brazil. Black Sands has just added a coloring book based on the series: Mori’s Family Adventures World Traveling Coloring Book, Vol. 1.
After the failure of his first Kickstarter campaign in 2015, Manuel Godoy tried again in 2017 and was eventually able to launch the company, raising more than $20,000. In Godoy’s latest effort on Kickstarter, which ended June 18, Black Sands raised over $63,000 to produce an animated pilot based on the Black Sands series. The animation is slated to be released in 2019.
Godoy, who is president of Black Sands, said that, after leaving the military, he wanted to develop video games, but he switched his focus to comics because of the expense and complexity of video game production. Nevertheless, he approached writing both the comics and the books “like a video game or a role-playing game.”
Godoy is also a DIY proponent and taught himself how to market his books and comics via social media. Black Sands has about 75,000 followers on Facebook and 53,000 followers on Instagram. The results of his promotions, he said, have been encouraging. Since its launch in late 2017, the company has sold more than 11,000 copies of the comics, novella, and picture books combined. It sells all of its books, comics, and picture books, as well of a variety of merchandise based on its titles, through its online store, and it has just reached an agreement with Baker & Taylor to distribute its titles to the book trade.
In addition, Black Sands will exhibit at about 19 shows (and store events) in 2018, with upcoming visits to Dragon Con in Atlanta in August and the Motor City Con in Detroit in November.
Godoy projects $300,000 in revenue for 2018, and Black Sands has three new books planned for 2019. Although the company was initially focused on self-publishing, Godoy said he plans to grow Black Sands into a full-service publishing house.
The couple exhibited for the first time at the recent ALA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Its most popular items among the librarians in attendance were the Black Sands comics (librarians were interested in bound collections of the periodical comics) and the new coloring book, which features 21 locations from around the world.