Black Comic Book Fans...Do they Exist?
Welcome to the unexplored country. Black Superheroes. My chosen quest. The impossible dream. If you have been reading my blog you will soon come to understand that this is an obsession of mine. I will not rest until this conundrum is resolved, at least in my mind. I've spoken already at great length about the paucity of minority heroes and the non-existence of an ongoing initiative to further integrate comics. My logical conclusion is that most of the companies I rely on for my comic book fix are predominantly (I should overwhelmingly) run by Caucasians. And I have no problem whatsoever with that. I love Caucasians. I am married to one. I love white superheroes. I don't go to the comic book store and say..."Dude...I can't buy this book any more. Spider-Man is white!" My biggest issue forever has been simply that I would also like to see or fantasize that there are also black superheroes. Because hey...I'm black. An interesting parallel as I'm making my case here is Marshall Mathers or the stunning white rapper from Eight Mile otherwise known as Eminem. Before Slim Shady erupted into the almost exclusively black world of hip hop music, I am sure white fans enjoyed rap music well enough. But when Eminem snatched the mic and ripped the industry with what can only be recognized by true heads and casual observers as a lyrical second coming (Preceded by the dearly departed Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur...RIP bruthas!!!) this had a profound effect on a new generation of white consumers who felt they now actually had a stake in the rap game. They were now represented by someone who looked like them yet could do all the things that the most exalted of black hip hop technicians and lyricists were capable of doing. This is huge for the same reason professional sports and all merchandising connected to it makes trillions of dollars every year. People want to be represented. People want to see themselves or be connected to something that is exciting; successful...attractive. Now, as a black man...I can definitely say that I was a big supporter and admirer of President Bill Clinton. I can even remember telling someone that Bill Clinton was the first black President because he so effortlessly identified with the black community. But listen to me when I say this...there ain't nothing in the world that trumps the feeling of having Barrack Obama in the White House. Why you say? Because of the primal sense of connectivity. President Obama in some genetic/visual/spiritual way represents something that was uploaded into my psyche the minute I was born black and that allows me to relate to him and simultaneously feel great pride and satisfaction because of his accomplishments. This kinship, this race pride is not prejudicial...it's just an incredible sense of connection and a vicarious emotional lift when you walk out the door every morning and the world attempts to tear you down. It's why we root for certain teams. It's why we read certain authors and go to the same restaurant or bar...we feel that link...that comfort zone...that pride. Included in this observation is also the notion of entertainment. Living the harsh lives that we do, the human soul seeks relief from the constant uncertainty of the material sphere we inhabit. Entertainment provides release. After much psychobabble I can finally begin to make my point. The reason I am so determined to see Black Superheroes flourish is because of that need to feel a kinship...to have a team or individual I feel that in some way is connected to me. Now there is a business side to this emotion. If I feel this way, I am 100% positive that there is a huge consumer segment of folks out there who are having the same thoughts and feelings. Going back to the example of hip hop. This is an art form that emerged from the collective, ragged psyche of the American Slave in the humid, torturous cotton fields of the South...it evolved into negro spirituals, morphed into the blues, split in half to create jazz and rock n roll...and it's latest incarnation...Hip Hop. I make this point to demonstrate the emotions, the genetic memory, and the historic gyrations of a culture, a thought pattern that has changed the face of the world and our global culture. Black people incorporate all of this into their arts. I would hate to think where we would be in entertainment, music, dance, sports, science, writing and any number of components that define civilization without the contributions of my race. So I must ask the question of my peers...why aren't we creating quality, black comic books for ourselves and others outside of our race? And why on the rare occasion that someone does provide a product that you have been clamoring for...something that represents you and where you come from.. don't you support it with your dollar? I am forced to ponder the question...Do black comic book fans really exist? And if so...what do they want? The Black Comic Book Renaissance should have happened years ago, but for some reason in this particular industry...artists, writers, publishers are curiously mute when it comes to making a black character with staying power. To all you black comic professionals out there...I just let the cat out of the bag. This is something that we must address if we want to be a part of the comic book industry and make some real change.