Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Where Are The Heroes????

Batman, Superman & Spider Man we know the names and faces as the icons of the comic book world. I enjoy reading comics but the lack of someone that looks like me or any other person of color is obvious.
I believe this is an important subject because it plays on a kid when the only entity of their child hood fantasy does not look like them.
One person that has been overlook during black month is Orrin. C. Evans (1902-1971). He created the first Black Comic book with real black characters. In 1947 he formed a partnership to publish a Black comic which included Harry T. Saylor, his friend Bill Driscoll. Orrin was determined that the book book will not be a some minstrel show and maintain educational standards. He co-created the features in the comic along with the artists who included his brother, George J Evans Jr, two other Philadelphia cartoonists, one of whom was John Terrill, the other named Cooper, and a Baltimore artist who signed his work Cravat.
Some of the characters were Ace Harlem a hard nose detective and Lion Man a young scientist, sent by the United Nations to watch over the fearsome ‘magic mountain’ of the African Gold Coast.
Unfortunately the book was short live.
There were Black super heroes that came afterwards such as the Black Panther and Power Man but they were created by white artist. There is nothing wrong with them and I push my kids towards them.
It was not until 1993 that another attempt at Black ownership of a super hero universe was attempted again. Milestone Media which comprise of Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle.
Some of the characters were:
Icon - a story of Augustus Freeman IV, an alien who had crash-landed into slavery in 1839 and grown up to become a Booker T. Washington conservative type until 15-year-old Raquel Ervin convinced him to become Icon, a super-hero to inspire people, with herself, Rocket, as his sidekick.

Blood Syndicate - A super-powered street gang with a realistic look at the gang experience. The series featured the death of one character early on, a crack-addicted member and another member trying to hide his sexual orientation from the others.

Hardware - A young genius whose corporate father-figure, Edwin Alva, turned out not only to have no respect for him, but to be a major criminal. Curtis Metcalf built himself a suit of armor and, acting as the vigilante Hardware, use it to take revenge on his creator. He would eventually join with Alva, and take over his position, finding himself struggling not just with personal ethics but business ethics as well.

Static - A 15-year-old Virgil Hawkins, who had gained electrical powers at the Big Bang. Static dealt with a crush on his best friend Frieda and another friend running guns. Later the charcter was turn into a cartoon.

Sadly the Milestone Media nixed the comic book world in 1997 due to lack of support... Now the company is primarily a licensing company, focusing on its television property.

Interestingly enough while watching JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED I notice that Wonder Woman seemed dare I say "ethnic" and to my surprise and glee Dwayne McDuffie was the producer/writer and to make me even more ecstatic his character Static won an Emmy and Humanitas Prize winning animated series Static Shock.
I have no problems with the current mainstream superheroes, I am a comic book geek and I am still called Batman by folks that remeber me running around with a towe tied around my neck. I feel the comic book universe still has away to go before they can have an honest representation of the vast human spectrum. I am not asking for a constant barrage of political stories just seeing someone with a tint saving the world would be nice and PARENTS support these characters before they disappear.

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