Superhero Graphic Novel 'Black' Takes On Racial Profiling And Brings More Diversity To Comics
It's true that publishers have started to feature more diverse characters in their comics, but some may feel that people of color are still underrepresented. Having a black Captain America and a half-black, half-Puerto Rican Spider-Man is great, but where are the superheroes that better reflect the modern day African American?
Bringing more diversity to comics, former digital editor at Marvel and DC Comics Kwanza Osajyefo and writer Tim Smith III have co-created a graphic novel that takes on issues such as racial profiling from the perspective of its black cast of characters.
Titled Black, the graphic novel follows the story of Kareem Jenkins, a young black man who becomes a victim of racial profiling after being gunned down by police. However, Jenkins survives the police violence with the help of a character named Juncture.
Juncture, who dreams of peace, reveals to Jenkins that their race has a great secret — a major portion of the black population are superheroes.
"With Black, we're looking to tell a great story, but we're also purposefully challenging the pop culture status quo, which is dominated by a white male aesthetic," Osajyefo said in a statement. "Black tackles the very real and palpable issue of race, which is at the forefront in America and around the world. We are trying to confront the issue of race head-on by creating a world in which only black people are superheroes — and the Black superhero trope isn't subtly cast under a label of mutant, inhuman, or meta-whatever. It is also both thrilling and liberating to create the superheroes we've always wanted to see — and, frankly, be — outside of the entrenched publishing system."
The graphic novel will explore real issues in black culture, such as racism and police brutality, while featuring characters that aim to be more relatable to audiences.
"Black is important because aside from age and abilities, I can't distinguish between Sam Wilson (Captain America) and Miles Morales (Spider-Man)," Osajyefo told the Washington Post. "I mean, I enjoy both characters, but they are very Cosby Show: cookie-cutter, inoffensive blacks who don't reflect contrasts within black culture itself. Most publishers lack the internal insight to create content that expresses black culture in a way that really reflects us."
Black features 120 pages of story that is broken down into six chapters, with art by Jamie Igle and Khary Randolph.
The comic creators have launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Black to the public, already raising over $15,000 of its $29,000 goal to be able to create the book.
Supporters who pledge $10 will get PDFs of all six issues, with the first issue expected to be released in mid-2016. The following five issues will then be released monthly on digital platforms. Those who pledge $25 will get a limited edition paperback version of Black, which is also expected for a November release.