4 Black Comic Book Creators Discuss Diversity And The Future Of The Super Hero
‘I do think pop culture needs to diversify itself and I think that’s already in progress,’ says Brandon Thomas, creator of ‘Miranda Mercury.’
In honor of Black History Month, MTV spoke to four black comic book creators who are not only changing the demographics of the characters in comics, but also opening the doors for future comic book creators to tell diverse and inspiring new stories.
Reginald Hudlin is the president of Hudlin Entertainment, producer of “Django Unchained,” former President of Entertainment for BET, and has written Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
MTV: What first got you interested in comics?
REGINALD HUDLIN: My older brothers read them so why not read comics? Great stories, great art… I feel like the world is catching up to what fans have always known.
My parents were supportive of us reading and never threw comics out. I still have our collective collection, which now has its own room.
MTV: How does African-American culture and identity shape your comics?
HUDLIN: The best comics were always culturally relevant in the times they were created, just like music. You plug into universal relatability by working out of your specific experience…because people aren’t really that different.
MTV: Have you faced prejudice for being African-American in the comics medium?
HUDLIN: The majority of my encounters have been very positive. Part of that comes from me entering the business when there was a changing of the guard at the top, and part of that comes from me entering comics after having a successful career in movies and television.
It’s more about overcoming historical challenges in the marketplace when it comes to black characters. Any time you do a book that reaches beyond the existing comic book fanbase, it’s a problem for publishers because they don’t know how to connect to that bigger audience who likely doesn’t know there are comics that they would like if they knew they existed and knew where to buy them.
MTV: Superhero movies have been doing really well lately. Do you think more black superhero movies can help make a paradigm shift for comics and movies culture?
HUDLIN: Sure. I think seeing President Palmer on “24″ helped a lot of Americans visualize what a successful presidency by an African-American would look like, making it easier for them to vote for President Obama.
There are plenty of white, Latin and Asian people who grew up loving “Black Panther” and “Static Shock.” When those characters are seen in live action movies and TV shows, we can’t really measure how big the global impact of that positive imagery will have on people.
MTV: What do you want people to take away from your comics?
HUDLIN: They should have fun. If you read a comic and get pumped, have a laugh, feel inspired and get hit in the feels, that’s a total entertainment experience!
MTV: What advice do you have for a young person looking to break in to this medium?
HUDLIN: There are way too many people doing derivative work. Ironically, I see it a lot in creator-owned work. Folks are either trying to knock off their favorite comic, or they are being “different” in the same ways everyone else is.