Category Archives: Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#529


Saw this guy outside the Safeway on Fruitvale near MacArthur. I drop in there from time to time to purchase organic grapefruit soda. My fabulous partner prefers Safeway Organics brand to some of the less corporate versions of the same thing. I was intruigued by this guy’s slight under bite, his seemingly hairless chin, and his slimness. He could have been anywhere between 18 and 30, and the look in his eyes suggested a lot more life experience than the average college-age kid, but the rest of him could have easily fit in at a high school. He wore a t-shirt that masqueraded his slight figure a little bit, but I could still tell he was thin for his height. I always wonder what it’s like to be a man who is shorter or thinner or in some other way less physically substantial than most. Do you get taken less seriously? Do you get bullied more? Do you have bad flashbacks from gym class dodgeball games? I’ve read that tall men make more money, run more Fortune 500 companies and are all-around more successful in virtually every aspect of life. Is that also true of thicker, more muscular guys? Do they generally have better outcomes (in some areas) than the skinny non-muscular types? If so, then what are the benefits of being less physically commanding or imposing? There must be some. Are such guys more compassionate or sympathetic to outsiders? Do they live longer? Have less accidents? Every type of physical difference has its benefits. It’s just that sometimes it takes a while to figure out what those benefits might be.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#523

For my second 500 drawings I am interested in depicting those African American men that I have largely overlooked during my first 500 drawings. Among those constituencies that I am rarely depict are homeless Black men, which is kind of peculiar, because there are a number of homeless guys who I see and with whom I speak on a regular basis. This is one such person who I’ve run into a few times near the Safeway that’s across the street from the Fruitvale branch of the Oakland Public Library. We have exchanged hellos, but we’ve never actually had a conversation. I’ve never forgotten the way his too-thin frame accommodated a tucked-in sweater a bit too easily. The way the tongue of his belt hung down way past his pocket suggested that he was both dramatically underfed and dressed in the clothing of a much larger person. There is an unassuming dignity in the way he carries himself, and his gaze suggests that he’s seen more in his one lifetime than most people might encounter in three. I hope to print this drawing soon and to hand this gentleman a copy next time I’m in his area.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#361

Here’s another drawing from my 2012 Comic-Con sketchbook. This year’s Sid and Marty Kroft panel included guest panelists David Gerrold, co-creator of Land of the Lost and writer for the famous Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and Wesley Eure, who played the role of Will Marshall on Land of the Lost. The Kroft brothers were witty and entertaining, Gerrold was humble and whip smart, and Eure seemed genuinely happy to be there. In fact, the most impressive thing about this session was how truly gracious all four of the panelists seemed to be.

At the end of the panel, they stuck around to shake hands and snap photos with the attendees. This drawing depicts one of the many fans who rushed up to the front of the room to snap pictures of the Kroft brothers and their special guests. Did I already say that one of the best things about Comic-Con is the sheer volume of Black folks who attend? The volume of African American comic, fantasy, and sci-fi fans is absolutely thrilling for a Black nerd like me…and all of the cosplay, gaming, autograph seeking, and general geekery is undertaken without even the slightest hint of irony. This conference might be the safest space for unapologetic nerdiness and geekiness in the western hemisphere. If you don’t believe me, ask the guy in this drawing.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#354

Union Square, San Francisco, July 2012.

Some women just love a man in uniform. When a guy with great hair and a perfectly fitting camel hair overcoat crosses my path, well, that’s what turns my head. Some people enjoy bird watching, but I enjoy clothes watching, especially when it comes to traditionally tailored men’s fashion. And as a person who adores fall fashion in particular, I just have to say how much I love that I live in a part of the country in which a camel hair coat is perfectly acceptable and appropriate summer fare. . Although I miss a lot about the Northeast, I am not sure I will ever be able to leave the awesome climate of the SF Bay Area. For a sweater lover like me, it’s too perfect!

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#350

I have finally reached drawing #350. When I began this project, during the summer of 2010, I was certain that I would reach 350 drawings in less than a year. Instead, it has taken two. Still, I’ve enjoyed every part of this challenge, and I am excited about the prospect of eventually completing all 1001 posts. My goal is to complete my 500th drawing by this time next year.

For those who have visited and/or retweeted and/or reposted the drawings I put up on this site, thank you so much for your support. I hope you’ll stick around for the next 150 drawings.

For those of you who are visiting for the first time, welcome and thank you for checking out this website. I invite you to check out the From the Artist statement.


About this Drawing

One of the things I enjoyed about drawing this figure in headphones was the challenge of drawing the expression of a person in musical reverie.

Look for more headphone drawings in the days to come.

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men–#342

Here’s another drawing inspired by my day in Alameda’s Park Street Starbucks. The man in this drawing was part of the mid-morning break crowd. He came in with a couple of other guys, similarly dressed in short sleeve shirts, ties, and cotton slacks. They were already involved in an animated conversation about Governor Jerry Brown when they entered the store. The conversation only got livelier with the addition of coffee. In this picture, one of the guys is poised to make a point, with hand gestures at the ready.*

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#315

Around the 6-month anniversary of the Occupy Oakland protests, I thought it might be a good thing to create this tribute. I am the first one to admit that I never made it down to Frank Ogawa to join in the marches, nor have I agreed with all of the decisions made and actions taken by the protesters. I do, however, have much respect for the passion and sincerity of my students and colleagues who participated in some of the Occupy protests. Moreover, I am very pleased to have witnessed an uprising that–especially in cities like Boston and New York–saw young college activists standing alongside middle-aged working folks of many different races, organizing around their shared interests. If nothing else, the Occupy movement did at least bring the uneven distribution of wealth to the fore in ways that forced politicians to have to talk about it. That, in and of itself, is something of a miracle.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#305

For this drawing, I took a man I saw at Zocalo Cafe and I replaced the wooden tabletop with a formica tabletop. This man was interesting to me because he was wearing what I like to call an Ajuan outfit. Mix 1980s preppy with 1990s geeky chic, with the costumes from the activities fair scene in Chariots of Fire, and you’ve got an Ajuan outfit. I always like it when I see people dressed like this because it reminds me of my childhood on the East Coast.

On a slightly different note, I used a formica tabletop in this drawin, because I’m still feeling a little sad about having recently replaced my vintage formica and stainless steel dining room table with a brand new Scandinavian style wooden table. The new table is nice, for sure, and I’m glad we got it; but there was something I really liked about that old formica table. It had history and a unique style all its own. I’ll be trying to sell it soon. I hope it goes to a good home.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#302

I think I’ve made this admission before, but I’ll do it again, just in case my memory is deceiving me: I do, at times, shop at chain bookstores. As a bibliophile, I understand that this is problematic, as small independent stores (and big independent stores) do tend to over a level of service and expertise (as well as a diversity of selections) that the chains seem unable to match. Still, when I want the new Sara Paretsky mystery novel, it’s easier to go to Barnes and Noble than it is to visit three separate independents before I can find one that actually stocked this very popular book. I should say, though, that all of the driving from store to store ended up being more than worth it. When I finally found the book, at Diesel Bookstore on College Ave, it was only $8.00, considerably cheaper even than on, and all because of a barely detectable cut in the dust jacket. I guess I just disproved my own point…

In any event, I saw this shopper in this drawing at one of my favorite independents, Books Inc. The Market St. Books Inc., near Castro (in San Francisco) is the one I like the best, but I end up at the Alameda store a lot more often. That is where I ran into the man in this post. I noticed him because of his thick, full beard, and because he was both tall and big–in a way that suggested he might have wrestled or rowed in college; and yet, at the same time, he seemed to emanate a desire not to call attention to himself, a challenge for someone who was easily the tallest man not only in the store, but (probably) on the block.

Ajuan Mance