- Angelfood McSpade
Angelfood McSpadeis a comic book character created and drawn by the 1960s counter cultureand underground comixartist Robert Crumb. The character first appeared in the second issue of Zap Comix(June, 1968)
Angelfood McSpade is an extremely offensive
stereotypeof a black Africanwoman. She is depicted as a large, bare breasted tribeswoman, dressed in nothing but a dressmade out of palm treeleaves. She is drawn with big lips, golden rings around her neck and in her ears, huge breasts, large round buttocksand speaks in jive (dialect). Her name references the chocolate Angelfood cakeand the racial slur " spade".
According to the second issue of Zap Comix she has been confined to "the wilds of darkest
Africa" because " civilizationwould be threatened if she were allowed to do whatever she pleased!". It's not clear whether she was born in Africa or born in the U.S.A. and then sent to Africa? Her type of clothing suggests she is African, but her jive (dialect)talk suggests she's from the U.S.A.
Angelfood is depicted as extremely
nymphomaniacand open to sexual intercourse. Police men prevent other sexually aroused men from meeting her. In a later story three men bring her to the United Statesand promise to "civilize" her. There she has to lick toilets clean. While she does this the men push her head inside the toilet and rapeher.
She is very
naïveand easily abusedor even violatedby the horny men who surround her. Another comic character by Crumb, Mr. Snoid, uses her for example as a boat . Often she is raped while being asleep or unconscious. Angelfood has a tendency to walk around barebreasted, even in cities. However, nobody ever seems to stop her from walking around half naked. In another story she saves two boys, Chuck and Bob, from being eaten by members of her own tribe. They fled to the US where she spends a night with the boys and afterwards goes to the hairdresser. When she returns, she has bleached her skin, changed her hair and clothing and learned fluent English, much to the dissapointment of the two boys. In another story she asked Hugh Hefnerif she could become a Playboy Bunny, but when Hefner saw her in the outfit he couldn't resist laughing. This made her so mad that she attacked him. In the last panel she and Mr. Natural(who accompanied her) are kicked out out Hefner's office.
The character was featured regularly during Crumb's late 1960s and early 1970s output. In later comics her appearances became less frequent.
Angelfood McSpade is one of Crumb's most notorious targets for accusations of
sexismand racism. As a naïve, dumb female character who walks around half naked and is often abused and used as an sex objectby men, these accusations are understandable. Crumb has however always defended himself that he didn't invent racist caricatures like Angelfood but that they used to be part of the American culture he grew up in. He saw it as criticism of the racist stereotype itself and assumed that the young liberal hippieaudience who read his work were not racist at all. Crumb is a fan of early 20th century art and blubber-lipped blacks and hypersexed natives were featured almost without exception in American comics, cartoons and films from the 1920s- 1930s. In many ways the character can be seen as a aesthetic hommage to 1920s-1930s America where these racist images were seen everywhere.
In defense of the character can be stated that she is one of the few sympathetic Crumb comic characters.
Fritz the Catand Mr. Snoidare egoistic sex maniacs and Flakey Foont is an neurotic person. When Robert Crumb portrays himself in his comics he usually depicts himself as a neurotic, sex obsessed, geeky man. Angelfood is a very sweet woman who has been romantically linked with someone at least once. In one story she is abducted by aliens and dropped out of the sky afterwards. She crashes thru the ceilingof the house of a lonely young man. The couple immediately fall in love. In another story Angelfood is looking thru a window, when a sadistic middle aged man tells her to "get away from that window" and kicks her K.O.. A young man who saw this happening angrily exclaims: "GRRR, I'm really getting pissed off!". Many characters see Angelfood as the ultimate example of a nice and beautiful woman.
African characters in comics
Stereotypes of African Americans
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