By Thomas L Blair 30 October 2016 © Part Two of BLIND SPOT in Black History
Once parents saw comic books as mind-numbing tripe. Fodder to keep kids out of the way on the weekend. Times have profoundly changed.
Black Hero comics are tough and raunchy and going global.(1) Soon, Black action comics will be popular everywhere. Comic Republic, a Nigerian comics start-up based in Lagos, is creating a universe of superheroes for Africans and the Diaspora. South African comic producers hope their Ordinary Superheroes will open a world market for local cultures and realities. All Black World comics producers, writers and artists agree: Afro Super Heroes are not just the face of colour. They are interesting characters doing inspirational things. That’s earned them a place in the new sequential art and literature discipline.
Black Action heroes are at the wall between the “high and low” arts
Afro Super Heroes are boon for teaching Black History through popular culture and the arts. (2) The means are close to hand. Leading industry talents are creating new comic books for the classroom. Teachers aim to promote reading with pictures, comics that make kids smarter. “The kids get to colour and draw, which they love to do anyway. (2)
One thing is certain. Afro Super Heroes are challenging teachers to embrace superhero comics as effective and legitimate teaching and learning tools.
Indeed, Afro Super Hero comics can be the new crusaders in the drive for Reading with Pictures. Pupils learn to participate in the transfer of knowledge and skills effectively. (3)
The richness of the Black Experience is their drawing board. Think of the griots in West Africa. Then, there are the Anansi parables in the Caribbean. Don’t forget the African American Bre’r Rabbit the trickster figures birthed in African folk tales. (4)
Afro Super Heroes online and on kids’ tablets and smart phones are gaining supporters. E-Black comic books build a strong reading culture. The goal is to embed Black History on a child’s creative side in the playground of the imagination.
Black comics as social commentary
The grace and grime of South London are on show in one of the earliest Black comics. Bobby Joseph authored Skank a British comic with black characters. It featured iconic locations in Peckham, Brixton and Lewisham where Joseph grew up, was first published in 1994 and has now returned in e-book form as the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Comic Book’ (5).
Afro Super Heroes follow in this tradition of affirming, “Who we are”. In hostile urban environments, this is a breath taking kick to the solar plexus of race relations. In fact, cultural advocates, like Ligali, see hero comics as a counterweight to the misrepresentation of Blacks. (6)
Soon, homegrown Black British action characters will be produced and on the shelves in Afro Super Hero-less Britain.
- The Brixton King Chaka ZuluNation, servant of the powerful God Garvey, will conquer the Destroyers of Black neighbourhoods.
- Queen Caribbeana of Black Power and Beauty embarks on a dangerous mission to save endangered coral reefs.
- Ten years after the apocalyptic virus gutted the Black World, a team of everyday heroes must find and inoculate the only survivor.
Why not a Hackney Black Panther Vixen who can fly and change the weather to defeat her foes? Why not comics with a Black Theology or Black Liberation purpose. One in which the Afro-Caribbean Avenger frees youth from the hellhole of limited jobs, education and opportunities.
Why not create characters that are autobiographical/ or fictional super heroes. In strip cartoons, Dark Destroyer will defeat the Spectre Demons haunting the homeless and the weary in prisons and hospitals.
Indeed, why not a Black Super Hero comic book movement that demands “recognition, justice and development”, the UNESCO theme for the 2015-2024 International Decade for the People of African Descent.
Conclusion: Afro Super Heroes Comics Can fill the pride gap
What I have discovered is this. Afro Super Heroes comics can make a pride-inducing contribution to Black History. The best British based Afro Super Hero comics will display the new mood of self-awareness and self-acceptance in communities. They will be a comment on the times in strip cartoon images and words.
They are also the new Teachers Aides. Moreover, it’s time for the curriculum overlords to set aside their literary purism, and their prejudices too. Afro Super Heroes are effective and legitimate teaching and learning tools.
Online Works cited
- 10 of The Greatest Black Superheroes Of All Time February 10, 2015 | Posted by Yanique Dawkins Atlanta Blackstar©http://blerds.atlantablackstar.com/2015/02/10/10-of-the-greatest-black-superheroes-of-all-time/2/
- http://www.ligali.org/ A Pan African Human Rights Organisation challenging the misrepresentation of African people, culture and history in the B