My Comic Book Review on Vice.com
Recently, I was a guest reviewer for my very talented friend Nick Gazin’s column “Comic Book Love-In #62”. As with much of Vice.com, a NSFW banner drawing acts as the introduction to the column, so, below is my review minus the urine and vagina drawings. (Originally published here: http://www.vice.com/read/nick-gazins-comic-book-love-in-62)
Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History
A few years ago, I had a friend who collected Black mammy cookie jars. When I asked her what sparked the collection she told me it was because she found them interesting. She didn’t expound beyond that. I felt this same yearning for discourse while reading Black Images in the Comics.
The book is a selected history of the depiction of Black people in comics since the beginning of the medium. One-paneled excerpts are paired with brief text describing the time period it was drawn and the artist’s background. Repetitive, old timey racist images make up about half of the book. The comics get less gruesome as they reach the present but with the short descriptions it’s difficult to understand why a particular panel is significant at all. Strömberg never desired to make an academic book, but what readers end up with is an awkward less-is-more, coffee-table-book style in pocket size. I wanted to know more about how Felix the Cat may have grown out of racist imagery or whether X-Men was inspired by the civil rights movement. Instead I was reminded of the sensation of sitting silent in a kitchen with images parodying my Black womanhood.