Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle

Synopsis

Multicultural Comics: From Zapto Blue Beetle is the first comprehensive look at comic books by and about race and ethnicity. The thirteen essays tease out for the general reader the nuances of how such multicultural comics skillfully combine visual and verbal elements to tell richly compelling stories that gravitate around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality within and outside the U. S. comic book industry. Among the explorations of mainstream and independent comic books are discussions of the work of Adrian Tomine, Grant Morrison, and Jessica Abel as well as Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's The Tomb of Dracula; Native American Anishinaabe-related comics; mixed-media forms such as Kerry James Marshall's comic-book/community performance; DJ Spooky's visual remix of classic film; the role of comics in India; and race in the early Underground Comix movement. The collection includes a "one-stop shop" for multicultural comic book resources, such as archives, websites, and scholarly books. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how multicultural comic books work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected with a worldwide tradition of comic-book storytelling.

Excerpt

The uncensored stories, colloquial dialogue, and caricatured drawings in old underground comix provide a rich and psychemucky vein of evidence for reimagining what was going through young people’s minds during a pivotal period in American history. Although racial issues were not a central preoccupation of underground comix, those comix in which race plays a role shine a lava light on how people were thinking during a confusing turning point in American race relations, soon After the main legislative victories of the civil rights movement. At the same time, examining the various images of racial difference that appeared in comix deepens our understanding of the comix themselves. These representations confirm that comix dedicated themselves to the cause of absolute freedom of expression.

Representations of racial difference in comic books of any kind have only recently begun to receive much serious academic attention. Compared to those in some other kinds of comic books and cartoons, the images of race in underground comix of the late 1960s and early 1970s do not seem to have been particularly influential, damaging, or important. Nevertheless, the racial images in underground comix invite closer attention.

The idea that comics could influence readers, cause damage, or have importance follows from the principle that media both “reflect and affect” the wider society. They do, but not in a simple, mechanical way. Comics supply evidence of widely shared assumptions and also teach particular ways of looking at things. Dr. Fredric Wertham, an antiracist psychiatrist, made both of these arguments . . .

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