“Hip-hop and comics books were my genesis”

March 20th, 2007 by | Tags:

supergirl.jpg SUPERGIRL #11
Written by New York Times Best-selling Author Vladimir Nabokov, with art by Joe Benitez, and cover by Ian Churchill, SUPERGIRL is being ushered into a new age! Written by the man who is skilled at both writing and writing about teenage girls, SUPERGIRL is going to hit the DCU in a big way! She’ll be a major player after Nabokov is done, and this leads directly into the slam-bang megaseries COUNTDOWN!
On sale October 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Kara, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Ka-ra Zor-El: the tip of the tongue taking a trip down the palate to tap on the teeth. Su. Per. Girl.

Sorry, if I didn’t do this, no matter how unfunny, I never would’ve been able to get it out of my head. I just bought the Annotated Lolita and I’m about to start reading it so it’s on my mind.

Anyway, there was an article in the Toronto Star about superheroes in decline and the dearth of black heroes. It’s a sentiment that I could’ve gotten behind if the article wasn’t a little… iffy.

Here’s some news! The author thought the same thing.

A feature story I wrote about the comic industry’s troubles with black superheroes appeared in The Toronto Star today, complete with some swell art and a clever illo (http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/article/193167.) I’m always happy to write about comics in a mainstream publication – it keeps my mind limber, and hopefully forces a wider audience to take the medium a bit more seriously. That said, sometimes things happen with big publications that bug me a bit.

First, they billed me as a “visual-arts” writer – not a biggie I suppose. But they also tweaked my lead and cut about 400 words of what i thought was very good exposition.

The sum effect was, i feel, that my story lost a bit of the personality and humour that I pride myself in.

Anyways, I’m going to post the original version of the piece below and any interested readers can decide for themselves which one they prefer….. maybe I’m just being a sensitive writer (poor baby!) So far, the feedback has been positive, including reaction from Reginald Hudlin, and several black cartoonists.

It does, in fact, read much better this way. It’s an interesting read, if a bit old hat at times, but worth reading to see if it shakes any new thoughts out of you.

One thing I came up with was that, in terms of pop culture, you’ll often see blacks at the forefront. Part of being other-ized is that the children of those who other-ed you (if I may mangle the English language a bit) tend to rebel in your direction. Rap was originally music created by and for poor black and latin kids. Nowadays, scads of white kids are down with Tupac and one of the best-selling rappers ever is white. Look at Richard Pryor for comedy, or The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince, Martin, and Family Matters for sitcoms. Trailblazing.

But, not in comics. Black characters tend to be relegated to the ghetto of “protest characters.” From the article:

The problem is black characters always have to be protest characters…They’re always arguing about something or they’re always angry, and it always has to do with race. So they’re fixed within one specific subject.

They’re already others, and this serves to other-ize them further. Black characters deal with Issues, usually Race-Related, fairly often. They’re mouthpieces, spokescharacters.

We’ve heard this song before, I do believe.

Food for thought!

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