African characters in comics

African characters in comics

Characters native to the African continent have been depicted in comics since the beginnings of the modern comic strip. Initially, such early 20th-century newspaper comics as Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo" depicted the racist stereotype of a spear-carrying cannibal, a comedic convention of the time. African characters later began to appear as another stereotype, the "noble savage" — a similar progression to that of depictions of Native Americans — and eventually as standard human beings.

History

American Comics

Cartoonist Lee Falk's adventure comic strip "Mandrake the Magician" featured the African supporting character Lothar from its 1934 debut on. He was a former "Prince of the Seven Nations", a federation of jungle tribes, but passed on the chance to become king and instead followed Mandrake on his world travels, fighting crime. He is often referred to as the strongest man in the world. Initially an illiterate exotic dressed in animal skins who provided brawn to complement Mandrake's brain on their adventures, he was modernized in 1965 to dress in suits and speak standard English. [ [http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?column=oym&article=1835 Comic Book Resources - Comic Book News, Reviews and Commentary - Updated Daily! ] ]

The publisher All-Negro Comics, Inc. published a single issue of "All-Negro Comics" (June 1947), a 15-cent omnibus, at a time when comics generally cost a dime, starring characters that included Lion Man. Lion Man is a young African scientist sent by the United Nations to oversee a massive uranium deposit at the African Gold Coast. He is joined by a young war orphan named Bubba, and fights the villainous Doctor Blut Sangro. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=375 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Lion Man ] ]

It wasn't until Waku, Prince of the Bantu [ [http://www.geocities.com/ratmmjess/waku.html Waku ] ] [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=25 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Waku ] ] in the omnibus "Jungle Tales" from Marvel Comics' 1950s predecessor Atlas Comics, that mainstream comic books depicted an African character as a strong, independent hero. Waku was an African chieftain in a feature with no regularly featured Caucasian characters. The first African-American title character of a comic book series was the titular star of the Western comic book "Lobo" (Dell Comics, two issues, 1965-1966). The first known Black superhero in American comic books is Marvel's the Black Panther, an African who first appeared in "Fantastic Four" vol. 1, #52 (July 1966). The first major African female character was Storm.

The first African American hero at DC / National comics was the Black Racer, introduced by Jack Kirby in the July 1971 issue of his The New Gods comic book; at roughly the same time he introduced Vykin the Black in The Forever People, a black character who was neither African or American.

African Comics

The series "Power Comics", designed as an educational tool, was published in 1975 by Acme Press of London, England, for distriibution in Nigeria. The series, starring Powerman, was written by Don Avenall (aka Donne Avenell) and Norman Worker, and illustrated by Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. In 1988, Eclipse Comics republished the series but changed Powerman's name to Powerbolt. Powerman, who was superstrong and could fly, appeared in stories rendered in a simple style reminiscent of Fawcett Comics' Golden Age Captain Marvel. His only apparent weakness was snakebite. [ [http://www.lib.msu.edu/comics/rri/nrri/nigerian.htm#nicomic Index to Comic Art Collection: "Nigel" to "Night Out" ] ]

In November 2005, Nelson Mandela announced that the comic book "A Son of the Eastern Cape" would provide an illustrated history of Mandela's formative years, starting with his birth. The opening panels show Mandela as a swaddled baby in his parents' arms in their mud hut in the village of Mwezo, near Qunu in the Eastern Cape. The book is scheduled to consist of 26 volumes, written and illustrated by Nic Buchanan, and to be translated into South Africa's 10 other official languages. A teacher's guide was also to be created. [ [http://www.southafrica.info/mandela/mandela-comic-311005.htm Mandela: comic book hero - SouthAfrica.info ] /]

Listed by company

DC Comics

*Adiremi - personification of the living wind she is a pattern in the clouds. One of the Orishas.
*Agemo - the chameleon, depicted as a shapeshifter. One of the Orishas.
*Computo (Danielle Foccart) - member of an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes (in a now-erased continuity); hails from Côte d'Ivoire
*Doctor Mist - former leader of both the Global Guardians and Primal Force.
*Erinle - depicted as a living flame, needs to consume to live. One of the Orishas.
*Eshu - The trickster and maintainer of balance. very similar to Anansi.
*Freedom Beast - a South African hero from the Global Guardians.
*Impala - a former member of the Global Guardians, now deceased.
*Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart) - member of the Legion of Super-Heroes; hails from Côte d'Ivoire
* Jakuta - a warrior of living stone and earth. Interestingly enough, Jakuta like Shango is traditionally a thunder god known as "Thrower of Light". One of the Orishas.
*Kid Impala - of the Ultramarine Corps
* Mawu - Mawu is the mother of the gods. She is always depicted as riding the rainbow serpent Oshunmare. Mawu created Ifé the living homeland of the gods, and imbued it with Lido (her life-force). Her traditional name is Mawu-Lisa. One of the Orishas.
*Mohammed Ibn Bornu - North African warrior hero from the Cadre of the Immortal. He rode a robot horse and carried and electronic spear that fired bolts of lightning.
* Molo - the International Sea Devil who represented Africa.
* Moremi - she appears to be a communally sentient flock of birds. One of the Orishas.
*Obatala of the White Cloth - leader of the Orishas. Used to take mortal form, was killed in mortal form by the king of Benin. He is later re-incarnated as a mortal man named Doctor Efraim Ngai, with no memory of his godly origins.
* Ochun - basically a naiad, Ochun personified the "Sweet Waters" and can manifest in any body of water. One of the Orishas.
* Ogun - God or iron and the forge, sometimes referred to as He-Who-Is-Iron. The blacksmith god who was the and creator of the Golden Chain linking earth to Ifé home of the gods. And he was also the one who broke the chain at Shango's request. One of the Orishas.
* Olorun - depicted as a face that took up the entire sky, Olorun is defined as "He-Who-is-the-Sky". Olorun was the first Orisha, born of Mawu into the land of Ifé.
* Orunmilla - The lawgiver of the Orishas, and voice of Olorun. Carries an everburning torch.
* Osain - depicted as a human woman spontaneously formed from the leaves of a tree. One of the Orishas.
* Oshunmare - A giant rainbow serpent which is ridden by Mawu the goddess of creation. One of the Orishas.
*Shango - A hotheaded, war-axe wielding thunder god capable of changing his size at will, warchief of the Orishas.
*Vixen - a member the Justice League.Was originally supposed to be the first African-American super heroine but her comic was canceled during the DC Implosion

Wildstorm (ABC/Homage)

*Anansi - an illusion-casting hero Astro City universe, based in Kenya where he fought the invading Enelsians.
*Flint - a superstrong and near invulnerable Kenyan woman. Formerly of Stormwatch and an associate of the Authority.

Marvel Comics

*Bashenga - an ancient Wakandan whose first and only appearance was in Black Panther v1 #7 from 1978, Bashenga was supposedly the first king of Wakanda and the first Black Panther some 10,000 years ago. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=204 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Bashenga ] ]
*Bedlam III - member of the Exemplars.
*The Black Musketeers - the trio of Dr. Joshua Itobo, Ishanta, and Khanata were all members of the royal family of the African kingdom of Wakanda. They were usually called to assist the king. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=153 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Black Musketeers, The ] ]
*Black Panther - hereditary title of the ruler of Wakanda, currently who is currently T'challa son of T'chaka, grandson of Azzari the Wise (yet another story names Chanda as his grandfather).
*Blade - vampire hunter, from which the films are based.
*Brillalae - which means "She Who Glistens," is a native of Murkatesh. She attempted to recruit Abe Brown of America as the new Black Tiger. Heroes for Hire foiled her invasion of Halwan a neighboring African country. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=229 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Brillalae ] ]
*Cub - member of the Remnants (counter earth).
*Doctor Crocodile - ally of Captain Britain
*Embyrre - an ancient African Vampiress who lived and died in the pages of Midnight Sons. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=211 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Embyrre ] ]
*Erik Killmonger - a long time enemy of the Black Panther.
*Ikon - a Black Panther villain named Dr. A'kurru whose body was made of living wood. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=329 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Icon ] ]
*Impala - villainous member of Bad Girls, Inc.
*Ivory - member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Super Soldiers.
*Leecher - member of the Bio-Genes a group of Somalian Mutant rebels.
*Lightbright - member of the Intruders, formerly with the Bio-Genes a group of Somalian Mutant rebels.
*Mali - member of the Bio-Genes a group of Somalian Mutant rebels.
*Man-Ape - now labelled a villain, M'Baku was Wakanda's greatest warrior second only to the Black Panther. He plotted to usurp the throne with the help of the outlawed White Gorilla cult who were ancient rivals of the Black Panther cult, which basically made them heretics since Panther worship is the state religion.
*Midnight Sun - an African child named M'Nai adopted by Fu Manchu, and raised alongside his son Shang-Chi. Fu Manchu impressed with his stoic nature trained him as one of the Si-Fan his elite assassins. Due to his badly disfigured face he always wore a mask, he was mute due to the attack that scarred his face. because they were equally skilled Fu Manchu sent him to kill Shnag Chi after Shang refused to assassinate James Petrie. Midnight died as a result of their second battle, but was later resurrected by the Kree in cloned body and gifted with cosmic powers strong enough to challenge the Silver Surfer. After a couple of battles with the Surfer he settled down to a peaceful life in the Blue Area of the Moon where he was accepted by the Inhumans. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix2/midnightsun.htm Midnight Sun (M'Nai, Shang-Chi/Silver Surfer foe) ] ] [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=463 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Midnight Sun ] ]
*Moses Magnum - the ruler of Canaan a small offshoot of Wakanda. An enemy of the Black Panther. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/magnummoses.htm Moses Magnum (Avengers, Deathlok, Power Man, X-Men foe) ] ]
*Mubaru - was a Wakandan cabinet member who represented the Mountain Tribes. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/mubarublackpanther.htm Mubaru (Black Panther foe) ] ]
*N'Kama - a Zulu Warrior hired by Damon Dran to capture the Black Widow. Master of hand-to-hand combat, also a master hunter and tracker.
*N'Kantu, the Living Mummy (Swarili tribe's king)
*Pirouette - member of the X-Patriots.
*Prodigal - member of the X-Patriots.
*Punchout - member of the Genoshan Press Gang.
*Sekmeht the Lion God - leader of the Lion Cult of Wakanda. Believes himself to be an actual God, opposed to the Panther Cult whose worship diminished his own followers. banished to another dimension by Iron Man and Mantis. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/liongod.htm Lion God (Egyptian god, Avengers foe) ] ]
* Shola Inkosi - a telekinetic/telepathic mutant from Genosha (a fictional island nation located near Madagascar)
*Solomon Prey - a villain and enemy of the Black Panther, he possesses bat-like wings that enable him to fly. Also has razor sharp claws. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/preyso.htm Solomon Prey (Black Panther foe) ] ]
*Sombre - an agent of Eric Killmonger and enemy of the Black Panther. Sombre's touch is highly corrosive and painful. [ [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/sombrebp.htm Sombre (Black Panther foe) ] ]
*Splice - Chandra Ku was a 13-year old Zulu girl from the 18th century. Recruited into the Young Gods by an African goddess.
*Sparrow - member of the Soldiers of Misfortune.
*Storm - Ororo Munroe. A former leader and member of the X-Men, and revered in Kenya as a weather goddess. She is married to Black Panther and rules Wakanda as queen by his side. She is currently a temporary member of Fantastic Four, along with her husband the Black Panther.
*Synch - Everett Thomas. A deceased member of the defunct Generation X. A native of St. Louis, he could mimic the powers of any superpowered being in his vicinity. He died in an explosion caused by a bomb detonated by Adrienne Frost at the X-Men's Massachusetts Academy.
*Transfaser - member of the Bio-Genes a group of Somalian Mutant rebels.
*Vibrania (Ally of Speedball)
*Vibranium- The former king of Canaan. Baru was deposed by Moses Magnum and transformed into living Vibranium by the villain Diablo.
*Vibraxas - was formerly a member of Fantastic Force.The Falcon (Sam Wilson)- Former member of the Avengers and former partner of Captain America ( Steve Rogers)

Atlas Comics

*Waku Prince of the Bantu - the titular character was an African chieftain in a feature with no regularly featured Caucasian characters.

Marvel UK

*Afrikaa - Afrikaa Ngala first appears in Black Axe #5 Marvel UK. Draws power from a magma pool known as the "Heart of Afrikaa". [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=215 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Afrikaa ] ]
*Doctor Crocodile - Joshua N'dingi, Chief of the African nation of Mbangawi. A friend of Captain Britain and powerful magic user, it was he who uncovered Jamie Braddock's insanity and evil to his siblings Brian and Betsy. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=168 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Doctor Crocodile ] ]
*Howitzer - a member of the Genedogs and English hero team combining mutants and mutates.

Strikeforce Morituri

*Silencer - Akiya Bandaranaike, who appeared in "" by writer Peter B. Gillis and penciler Brent Anderson, volunteered to become a Morituri after discovering she was genetically compatible to undergo the process. Her strength and endurance were superhuman and she could nullify sound. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=47 The Museum of Black Superheroes - Silencer ] ]

Supremeverse

*The Five - five unnamed African superhumans who tell the Squadron Supreme and Hyperion to leave Africa and never return.
*The Voice - General John M'Butu, a genocidal tribal leader gifted with a powerful psychic suggestion ability with a vocal component.

Small Press: Comic Book

African Prince

*Captain Africa - baqased in Juba Castle near the high-tech metropolis called Egyptica, Prince Najee M’Witu is secretly Captain Africa a brilliant detective.

All-Negro Comics

*Lion Man - American born, college educated Lion Man is a young scientist, sent by the United Nations to watch over the fearsome ‘magic mountain’ of the African Gold Coast.

ANIA Publishing

*Zwanna, Son of Zulu - An over the top caricature of the black superhero, complete with a "Zulu-sense", and the ability to summon the powers of the Zulu. He carries a short spear in one hand, with green tassles which are in fact magical vines that he can mentally control.

Arcane Comics

*Nighthawk - appeared in the Soul Sorcerer
*Noah - appeared in the Soul Sorcerer

Awesome Comics

*Nubian Knight - an ordinary man living in South Africa who is granted super powers by "El" an ancient Godlike being.

Blackburns

*Admiral Africa - defends Africa from Nazis.

Comico

*Anansi

Daathrekh Publishing

*NETERS - cifer-RA (high-science-entertainment) [http://www.daathrekh.com Daathrekh Publishing]

Griot Enterprises

*The Horsemen - Incarnations of the Yoruba pantheon's orishas including Yemaya, Ogun, Obatala, Oshun, Shango, Oya, and Eshu

Liberator

*C.U.S.H. - a team of black superhumans. [ [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=690 The Museum of Black Superheroes - CUSH ] ]

Miller Publishing Co.

*Ku-Zu'u, King of the Jungle (Wildman Comics & Stories #8, meets Xal-Kor the Human Cat) [ [http://www.geocities.com/nenslo/p2/xalkor.html XAL-KOR the Human Cat ] ]

UNForce

*Oba - a member of UNForce

Urban Style Comics

*Dreadlocks - he is a blind, revolutionary hero empowered by the gods of ancient Alkebulan. Taught by the master teacher Pharohn, his duty is to bring Ma'at (order, justice, peace) to the people.

Small Press: Graphic Novel

Double Storey

*Red Monkey [http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/2004/02/29/news/cape/nct04.asp] - Dave the Red Monkey, a red furred apeman stoner, lives in a surreal version of Cape Town alongside normal appearing humans. Dave appears in "Red Monkey: The Leaking Cello Case" written and illustrated by South African artist Joe Daly, and published by Double Storey in 2003. "The characters spend their lives in a sophisticated, new age version of hell. Monkey-footed Dave lives in decaying art deco splendour, dodging his underachieving dagga-smoking white buddies who are always out to loan a buck." [ [http://www.absolutearts.com/artsnews/2004/09/15/32363.html Comics Brew: An Exhibition of International Comic Art - NSA Gallery - Absolutearts.com ] ]

Gettosake

*Credence Walker [http://www.gettosake.com/credence.html] - a Doc Savage styled adventurer in an alternate Africa, written by Travis G. Johnson, with plot and art by Jeremy & Robert Love. Originally slated to be published in 2004 by [http://www.gettosake.com Gettosake Entertainment] .

Zap Comix

*Angelfood McSpade - a black nymphomaniac tribeswoman who walks around barebreasted at all time. Cartoonist Robert Crumb intended her as a caricature of racist, stereotypical depictions of black women.

Webcomics

*Eleggua - the modern incarnation of the Yoruba trickster deity Eleggua also known as Eshu. Created for the online medium by Alex Hernandez (writer) and illustrated by Korshi Dosoo [http://www.lairofthetwistedkitten.co.uk/index.html] . Here are links to the comic series, the first part [http://www.lairofthetwistedkitten.co.uk/comics/Eleggua/Divine%20Infections%201.htm Eleggua: Divine Infections] and the second [http://www.lairofthetwistedkitten.co.uk/comics/Eleggua/BloodandThunder/Chango1.htm Eleggua: Blood & Thunder] .

Other media

Television

*Anansi the Spider - a hero of Ghana, and the greatest hero in west Africa. Anansi has the power to create visible, realistic illusions. He is named after Anansi, the trickster spider of African folklore. Made guest appearances on the animated television show Static Shock.

See also

*List of black superheroes
*Ethnic stereotypes in comics

Footnotes

References

* [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/ The Museum of Black Superheroes]
* [http://www.southafrica.info/mandela/mandela-comic-311005.htm Southafrica.info (Nov. 1, 2005): "Mandela: Comic Book Hero"]
* [http://www.lib.msu.edu/comics/rri/nrri/nigerian.htm#nicomic MSU list of Nigerian Comics]
* [http://www.gettosake.com/credence.html Credence Walker homepage at Gettosake.com]
* [http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?column=oym&article=1835 Afros, Icons, and Spandex: A Brief History of the African American Superhero]
* [http://www.geocities.com/ratmmjess/waku.html Waku Prince of the Bantu reference site]
* [http://www.blacksuperhero.com/exhibithtml/detail.cfm?id=25 Waku entry in the Museum of Black Superheroes]
* [http://www.chico.mweb.co.za/art/2003/2003nov/031128-reality.html Red Monkey: The Leaking Cello Case review from Za@Play]
* [http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/2004/02/29/news/cape/nct04.asp Joe Daly interview in the South Africa Sunday Times]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Dungeon/2864/Blacks.html Jorge's Black Supers List]
* [http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=005072 "Pulse" (May 2, 2006): "Intro to Webcomics: The Work of Alex Hernandez]
* [http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=241535 Grand Comics Database: "All-Negro Comics" #1]
* [http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/links/comics/ From "Under Cork" to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics]

External links

* [http://www.africultures.com/anglais/articles_anglais/lumbala.htm An inventory of the comic strip in Africa]
* [http://www.gettosake.com/toons/ Animated trailer for Creedence Walker at Gettosake.com]
* [http://www.daathrekh.com Daathrekh Publishing]
* [http://www.ecbacc.com/news.html East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention]
* [http://www.impcomics.com/ IMP Comics home of Eleggua]
* [http://www.Neters.tv NETERS]


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