Mark Stanley-Bey has been creating art most of his life. He worked as an illustrator inker in Orange County before he was incarcerated. This is his first art contribution to Wall City magazine, though he previously showcased a drawing of a modified Studebaker on the back page of San Quentin News.
Stanley-Bey’s art is inspired by the “steampunk” genre, a fusion of the Victorian era and the Industrial age, where mechanical application was used.
“The reason that I chose to make all these characters African American is because of the innovations Black Americans gave to America, like the cotton gin,” said Stanley-Bey. “We also helped the automotive age by creating the signal light, and a Black person created the iron we use to keep our clothes pressed.”
Blacks are rarely portrayed as heroes or law-abiding citizens, Stanley-Bey said. The inspiration for his characters’ disabilities came from Stanley-Bey’s job working with disabled prisoners. He assists incarcerated people with disabilities in attending to their daily living needs, like picking up their food or helping them get to doctor’s appointments.
The artist displays a vivid imagination. His Agent Bridge Water (right, background) is a female Secret Service agent who is highly involved in U.S. and British foreign relations. With her purple skirt, gold left mechanical arm and her Rambo-inspired knife, she helps maintain national security.
The two territorial marshals (left) are named Steamcar and Duster. Steamcar is in front with a purple shirt and derby hat, while Duster is the black-clad figure standing behind him like the grim reaper, their vehicles in the background. These agents of law enforcement were given a presidential order to maintain territorial peace by lawful means.
JetAir and Zeppelin (far right) are national security agents for the Office, formerly known as the Office of Secret Services. They were given jurisdiction over America’s airspace and charged with the secret development of aero-devices. Jet Air is wearing red and has a mechanical monocle which allows him to see like a bird from high up. He also has a gold mechanical leg to assist him with walking. Zeppelin is wearing a light green dress with a gold mechanical arm and an orange parachute device on her back. She uses a cane to aid walking.
“These characters are like my version of X-Men-inspired heroes,” said Stanley-Bey with a twinkle in his eye.