Tag Archive for Comic Books

A History of Black Superheroes & Their Impact on Comics

superblackcover300x450Adilifu Nama’s Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes introduces many of today’s comic book fans to the history of African Americans in comic books and pop culture.

Nama doesn’t just focus on African-American superheroes; he focuses on race relations in comic books and between comic book characters. His analysis of race as a plot device used to address larger political issues – like drugs, crime within a contextual framework makes a strong point that comic books aren’t just for kids.

Nama credits Dennis O’Neil’s and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow as a comic book series that “dramatically recast superheroes, and shaped the superhero comic book as a space where acute social issues were engaged,” including racism.

In the Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow GLGA76BSinaugural issue (#76, 1979) titled “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight,” the superheroes confront American racism. Across several panels an elderly black man is depicted questioning Green Lantern’s commitment to racial justice: The elderly man says, “I been readin’ about you…How you work for the Blue Skins…and how on a planet someplace you helped out the Orange Skins…and you done considerable for the Purple Skins. Only there’s skins you never bothered with! The Black skins!” Then the man asks, “I want to know…how come? Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!”

According to Nama, “Their conversation forever changed the boundaries of the superhero genre. Superheroes were no longer constrained to fighting imaginary creatures, intergalactic aliens, or Nazis from a distant past. Now they would grapple with some of the most toxic real-world social issues that America had to offer,” like racism.

Super Black is on sale and can be found on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/19rFG2F

Book report due? Relax, ‘Classics Illustrated’ comics are back


“The Last of the Mohicans” and “Jane Eyre” are two of the first “Classics Illustrated” comic books that Comixology will republish digitally.

In the mid 20th century, Classics Illustrated comics were the salvation of students faced with the grim prospect of creating book report on titles such as “Silas Marner” or “Moby Dick.” Now hundreds of literary classics adapted and illustrated as comics in the pages of “Classics Illustrated” are going digital.

Digital comics distributor, Comixology said Wednesday it made a deal with Trajectory Inc. to bring the entire 120-issue run of “Classics Illustrated” to its digital storefront within several months, with the first titles to include adaptations of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans” and Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” among others.

UnknownClassics Illustrated was a comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics. Created by Albert Kanter, the series began publication in 1941. Some titles were packaged in gift boxes with specific themes such as adventure or mystery. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (issue 13) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (issue 15) – were  both cited in Dr. Fredric Wertham’s infamous 1954 condemnation of comic books Seduction of the Innocent.

Original edition Classic Comics in near mint condition command prices in the thousands of dollars.

Developmentally Disabled Create Comic Books

Volunteer Jennifer Kotschwar, a University of Nebraska at Kearney senior  and a special education major from Kearney, oversees the creation of Jessica  Walker's comic. Walker was one of nine participants in the Arc's recent comic  books class, which helped developmentally disabled individuals create their  own comics. Photo AP

Volunteer Jennifer Kotschwar, a University of Nebraska at Kearney senior oversees the creation of Jessica Walker’s comic. Walker was one of participants which helped developmentally disabled individuals create their own comics. Photo AP Images

KEARNEY, NE — The nonprofit Arc of Buffalo County helps give children and adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work, and play. It is now helping developmentally disabled people make their own comic books.

Executive Director Kristen Larsen said, the Arc wanted to encourage its clients to get creative. That led to comic books, which more and more educators agree, are appealing to all age groups as a creative tool and educational outlet.

The class, part of the Arc’s Teens in Action program, is oriented toward anyone with developmental disabilities regardless of age. 

 “We’ve opened up the class to anyone in middle school on up through the young adulthood age, but really it seems to be more popular with the older teens and younger adults,” Larsen said.

Using the software Comic Life, the comic creation class lasts six weeks.  Participants created comic books with varied themes such as science fiction fantasy and real-life comics depicting friends and family. “It’s also helping to increase their strength to be able to focus on a task for a long amount of time” says Larsen.

Donna Montgomery, a professor teaching special education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and president of the Arc Board of Directors, said individuals could create comic books using assistive technology such as word prediction software to help with the writing.

“They don’t have to write a lot,” said Montgomery. “All of the individuals that participate in this group have developmental disabilities. This allows them to write stories and books.”

See also: Comics as an Educational Resource, ‘The Comic Book Project’ Goes Global, Cultivating the Next Generation of Comic Professionals

‘The Comic Book Project’ Goes Global

Dr. Michael Bitz, founder of THE COMIC BOOK PROJECT

Dr. Michael Bitz, founder of THE COMIC BOOK PROJECT

NEW YORK, NYDr. Michael Bitz, teacher and advocate for inspiring creativity in children has found a unique approach to learning.  “We want to promote independent thinking and creative problem solving those are the skills that young people will need in the 21st century,” Bitz said.

Through the support of Dark Horse Comics, the program began with a class of middle school students in

drawing NYC, and then quickly expanded across the city. In 2003, CBP was implemented citywide in New York City and Cleveland. The theme of the New York City project was environmental awareness and was funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The theme of the Cleveland project was conflict resolution and funded by the Cleveland Foundation. These two implementations impacted over 10,000 inner-city youth. The 2004-2005 school year marked the national launch of CBP with thousands of children in ten cities participating on the theme of leadership. The results of the pilot program were published in The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy and Art Education.

kidBy 2009, over 100,000 youths in every state had participated in the program. An independent evaluation showed that students who participated in CBP demonstrated significant gains in their standardized test scores. Read the report here.

By 2010 CBP became a program of the nonprofit EdPath. International recognition–from the Reading Association of Nigeria to the Ministry of Education in Australia–identified the importance of CBP in helping youths reconnect to language and literacy. CBP continues to thrive and expand today having established itself  in Canada, Mexico, and Nicaragua. The mission of bringing creativity into the classroom continues with every new comic book designed and published by a young person around the world.

readingBitz now has plans to travel to Nigeria shortly after the Wildcat Comic Con to present his project at the University of Nigeria. His hope is for the project to become an international model for literacy development.

“It’s a lifelong pursuit. I don’t think it’s something that I will ever stop doing. It’s wonderful to see it grow and be a part of what people do,” he said.


Update: Why is gender STILL an issue in Comics?

Last month’s feature Women in Comics – Then & Now attempted to bring new insight to the age old debate on female professionals and characters within the comic book industry and why they do not receive as much fanfare as their male counterparts.

Photo by DC.com all characters © DC Entertainment

Photo by DC.com all characters © DC Entertainment

Reviewing recent industry headlines it would seem the struggle continues with recent public relations debacles on DC Comics’ titles Batwoman and Harley Quinn left many fans wondering – what were they thinking?

While many hold their breath in anticipation of change within the majors others look to the independent market as a beacon of hope.

Ignatz image © Small Press Expo

Ignatz image © Small Press Expo

Small Press Expo’s Ignatz Awards, has celebrated women cartoonists since its inception, this year was no exception as its awards ceremony continued that support by setting a precedent. For the first time, SPX says, all the night’s presenters were women.

This was the idea of special guest and longtime New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly. “I was given the opportunity ahead of time to select the presenters for each award to be given,” says Donnelly, “and I decided to choose all cartoonists who are women. More and more of us are now in the business, unlike previous years, and I wanted to celebrate that fact by bringing attention to it. “Many cartoonists came up to me afterwards — men and women — to thank me for doing that, it was great.”

The presenters included Kate Leth, Ulli Lust, Rutu Modan, Mikhaela Reid, Raina Telgemeier, Carol Tyler and Jen Vaughn. Lust also won an Ignatz for Outstanding Graphic Novel — a category in which all five nominees, including Modan and Tyler, were women.

However, the low numbers within the professional group of females working with major publishers remains stagnant.

Based on solicitations, December looks to be a sizeable step down for women at DC, both in terms of female creators and characters.  With stronger numbers in both October and November it was surprising to see only 9 different female creators on 11 different books in, a drop of 5 and 4 compared to a month ago.

Traditionally, December is a very quiet month for new books all around.  Perhaps there will be some new additions with the coming New Year.

Regardless of where you stand the female voice within the industry remains strong. Erika Statler, 33, waves her geek flag publicly as the president of the Society of Gallifreyan Scholars, a “Doctor Who” club at Purdue University.  “I believe that women are more comfortable with publicly being a part of geek culture and showing it off because (being) smart is nothing to be ashamed of,” Statler said. “I embrace my geek/nerd side every day and I’m not ashamed of it. I shouldn’t have to hide something that makes me happy, so I don’t, and neither should anyone else.”

Additional Resources:

Captain Marvel: DeConnick on Carol Danvers and the comics industry http://lat.ms/19emTlX

“Holy Hot Flash, Batman! http://bit.ly/Rw1wW0

BOOM! Studios Reveals New Submission Process for Artists

Want to know what it takes to get an editor to look at your work?

Well, look no further, BOOM! Studios has just launched an Artist Submissions page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BoomStudiosArtistSubmissions) in an effort to create a venue for artists submit their work for review by the BOOM! Studios Editorial department.

The Artists Submissions Facebook Page serves as an outlet for artists (pencilers, inkers, colorists, and letterers) to post samples of their work for review.  The page is strictly for artists only – all unsolicited writing submission will not be reviewed.

© BOOM! Studios

© BOOM! Studios

The process is fairly simple, upload samples of your work for the BOOM! Studios Editorial staff to review.  Post all samples in the Timeline section of the page and provide your contact information.  BOOM! Will not respond to posts or messages but has hired a number of artists through this method and will contact you if there is interest.

In addition to the new submission process the BOOM! Studios editorial team will post helpful hints and advice for artists to improve their craft on the page as well.

“I’m really excited about this new initiative,” said Managing Editor Bryce Carlson. “Not only is the BOOM! Studios Artist Submissions Page an amazing opportunity for aspiring artists, colorists, and letterers to get their samples in front of BOOM! editors on a regular basis and find helpful tips and advice, it’s also a great community for creators to interact and learn from each other. Finding new talent is awesome, but providing a home for people to grow and learn together is what really makes this so special.”

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