Blacks in America have always had a peculiar position. At once they are part of the mainstream culture and at once they are a distinct ethnic group with its own culture. This has transpired the same way in comics over the years. What makes black culture mainstream is the fact that it has been readily adopted by all segment of the United States and incorporated to the highest degrees into what is the experience of the nation. From music to cooking to sports, blacks are mainstream America. Yet, there is always some feeling that the black current is an alternative culture within a greater one similar to how Italians, Jews, and Latinos see themselves in the United States.
In some ways the distinctiveness of black culture has take everybody by surprise. For example, on Twitter, there is a whole subgenre of Twitter users that are not interested in the mainstream discussion. Their intense twittering is so effective that the topics of a distinct group of black youth on Twitter often dominate trending topics.
In comics, there has always been this alternative vibe, this other circuit of comic book creators creating comic books often for their communities. Italians, Filipinos, Jews in America do not make their own comic books for their American audiences. But black do. Yet, blacks in America are truly Americans and nothing else.
Often, the comic books started by blacks for blacks and other non mainstream comic book audiences are meant to offer counterparts to the all white world of the mainstream comic book. Yet they often get distributed in the same channels and for some unfortunate reason, do not earn the same audience. Veterans of the genre, trying to offer more inclusive and multicoloured material would argue that the best integrated material that reaches the most readers, is the one that does not label itself as a black audience only product and allows other demographic groups to peak through. In other words, such comic books do not announce their blackness but still impress it through material deemed neutral.
The debate of expanding black-influenced comic books becomes one of whether to exclude other demographic groups or whether to fully integrate them. If fully integrated, are they still black-oriented comic books or just comics created by blacks with other sensibilities? There is no simple solution and one size will not fit all. The best thing once can say is that a variety of solutions and options should be possible and deemed reasonable. There should be comic books that only cater to black readers. There should be others that include everybody. There is no right or wrong, although market viability is always a concern.
In the comic books, this network of fellow blacks has been more prevalent in Marvel Comics. For example, when James Rhodes, the second Iron Man, also better known as War Machine wanted to fix his early armour while Tony Stark was out of commission, he would go to a black mechanics, not a white one. The Falcon, Captain America’s former sidekick got his enhanced weaponry through the Black Panther, not one of the other super smart Avengers. There was no equivalent in DC Comics. For example, we’ve never seen Steel trade architecture tips with Cyborg. We’ve never seen Green Lantern John Stewart in a sparring session with Mr Terrific. It often feels as if these characters exist as black ones outside of all prejudices and expectations of society. They colour only becomes an issue for the odd comic book story ordered to be relevant and outlay a moralistic message. Otherwise, all the indirect networks through which blacks form a community in and outside of comics are not reflected through the characters of DC Comics.
The story of the first black astronaut approaches black comic book culture in a different way. It assumes that blacks are the mainstream and they are not minorities. They are the standard upon which others create alternate cultures. Such a world exists, but outside of North America. In Africa, and to some extent, places like the Caribbean, the dominant culture is black. Comics there, depict a reality where the experience of blacks is the norm. These comic books and their culture barely touches North America. Just like there are movies and soap operas with African actors, there are also comics written and drawn from a black perspective only. In places like Haiti, sequential art even exists as mobile murals on tap tap buses that transport around. Brief stories exposed through sequences illustration on one bus, can tell stories, just like the column of Trajan in Rome or the caves of Lascaux in France. These are comic books in action and audiences in North America know nothing about them. Perhaps one day, The Comic Book Bin will be that place where black astronauts find out about all experiences of blacks in comics.
February 19, 2018 - 09:52
@disney @BlackGirlNerds @Lupita_Nyongo @theblackpanther @Kevfeige @chadwickboseman @BlackComicsChat why won't @marvel speak to this Black-owned comic news site?
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@blackmaskstudio @brettgurewitz @steveniles @pizzolo tell the story of a world where only Blacks have powers
February 9, 2016 - 10:15
#moustiques #normandbrathwaite #louismorissette #blackface Ça va être difficile d’amener le Québec en 2016 avec Morissette et Brathwaite
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@sophiedurocher @jdemontreal columnist defends blackface
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In this article, I provide a rough guide for colourists that they can refer to when colouring the palms of darker humans
July 7, 2014 - 23:08
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May 23, 2014 - 20:20
European comics in translated from Russian and English, Ant-Man and Black comic book conventions
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World War One heroes and godly gay comics
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In comics, Kwanzaa has not made much of an appearance, except in cartoonist Ray Billingsley’s Curtis comic strip
June 2, 2013 - 13:08
These movies continue to portray Africa as a place that marvels Western audiences in a generic pot-pourri
February 18, 2013 - 08:18
@DarkHorseComics and @Robert33071 presents Number 13 and a conclusion of the story that began in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.
January 22, 2013 - 15:44
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August 14, 2012 - 15:35
@vertigo_comics offers up another winning original graphic novel, Right State, from Mat Johnson and Andrea Mutti.
April 4, 2012 - 10:22
Ye Olde Colored Wisdom on how not to get a cap in your posterior.
February 3, 2012 - 13:26
Do mainstream comic books perpetuate latent prejudice and social injustice?
January 15, 2012 - 11:31
Mister Terrific will be permanently written off as a character that cannot sell and that people have no interest in
August 21, 2011 - 12:34
An excellent heist tale and timely tale of the Big Easy.
April 22, 2011 - 08:00
A unique vision from a distinctive cartoonist about a special man.
April 8, 2011 - 09:19
America's favorite genuine, prime, uncut, male mandingo is back! Black Dynamite takes on Slave Island.
February 27, 2011 - 17:55
The heavyweight graphic novel about a great heavyweight comes to an end.
February 23, 2011 - 10:00
In the first half of this comics biography, the famed boxer Jack Johnson seems like a young superhero.
January 22, 2011 - 07:41
The first Jamaican superhero already has his hands full.
January 19, 2011 - 07:44
Learning the craft.
January 15, 2011 - 20:12
On the eve of the Golden Globes comes... the Golden Globes of comic book awards!
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At the stadium of the dead.
January 24, 2010 - 11:44
Another house of horrors.
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This house is hungry for you.
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Haunted Hell House, Part 1 of 2
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Did Storm forgive the Sub-mariner over his betrayal of the Black Panther?
October 1, 2009 - 14:41
Bestselling author, radio personality, actor, comedian, and now comic books!
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The latest celebrity-created comic book series has black star power and some potential.
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The king and I - the girls meet a guy with a burger problem.
August 27, 2009 - 20:04
Thank you, don't come again - zombies visit the local quickie mart.
August 17, 2009 - 21:12
Dead girl fight - friends must come together before they're eaten together.
August 16, 2009 - 14:19
Night of the living bash - the girls of EAZY find their party crashed by the hungry dead.
July 30, 2009 - 14:26
Girls on film - three atypical sorority girls give you the 411 on zombies.
July 27, 2009 - 09:21
Is Henry Louis Gates too accomplished to be treated like regular black folk?
June 7, 2009 - 11:57
Recent events reveal that even after the election of a black President, many Americans still view the BLACK MAN as a criminal resident.
June 5, 2009 - 15:28
Fresh from the oven! New Image Comics series introduces new artist.