Over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in the Nation’s Capital, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment held the first ever “DC in D.C.” event, bringing together the stars and creators of television and comics to celebrate and honor the diversity of the DC Universe’s superheroes. We also finally announce a Patreon and ask you for your support!
This is a guest post from my wife, Janet Christine Mendoza Stickmon. It is a little off from what we usually cover but in these times, it is a very necessary read.
Get ready. This weekend is going to be a huge one as our very own John Jennings has organized two comic art festivals on either coast that will celebrate Black comic art and artists with day-long events featuring panel discussions, film screenings, and more.
Festivities kick off in New York City on Saturday, January 17 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for its third annual Black Comic Book Festival. The scene then shifts to San Francisco on Sunday and Monday for that city’s inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival — which John announced in October. Both events are free and open to the public.
We try not to stray from the geek-o-sphere too much here at the NOC, but it’s kind of hard to deny that the one pop cultural topic that’s taking up all of the oxygen is the announcement of the 2015 Academy Award nominations, and the near 100% shut out of people of color in all the major categories1. The most egregious of these snubs was the almost complete dismissal of Selma. The Martin Luther King biopic was pretty much a lock for multiple noms for most of awards season but only managed a Best Song and a (token) Best Picture out of the deal. Star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay were left on the outside looking in.
And if you need a direct connection back to the nerd world, Oyelowo provides the voice for the Star Wars: Rebels baddie Agent Kallus and Topless Robot wants DuVernay to direct a Marvel movie (something the director isn’t opposed to, by the way). So there.
I was caught making ice sculptures while wearing my X-Uniform in 5 Pointz, Queens, and someone asked why I would risk exposure.
I wear my X-Jacket when outside of the Academy to empower myself, and to remember that being mutant is a global phenomenon — our gifts, largely and widely, will go unrecognized as our existence is fundamentally iconoclastic in an otherwise conformist world.
I especially wanted to visit the 5 Pointz Academy after having been painted over white.
“The X-Men are hated, feared and despised collectively by humanity for no other reason than that they are mutants. So what we have here, intended or not, is a book that is about racism, bigotry and prejudice.”
—Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont, 1981
Call me Quentin Quire. Magneto was right.
A widely-held defense of Marvel Comics’ X-Men states that their stories chronicle the trials of an emergent minority who are hated and feared by the rest of humanity. Race presents the easiest and most popular application of this comic allegory, and casts Magneto’s mutant uplift through global terrorism perspective against the global harmony across cultural boundaries philosophy of Professor Charles Xavier. The parallel beckons: we are to understand Magneto as Malcolm X and respect Prof. Xavier as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Separation or integration, with superpowers. The African American political divide, replacing melanin with the mutant gene.
But when we examine this metaphor in the context of major X-Men storylines in comics, animation, and television, we observe an alternate reality where a human being can gain extra-normal abilities like flight and super speed through the caprice of the genetic lottery, a new world where those not blessed with pyrokinesis or healing factors vote for dogmatic politicians who shuttle public money into robotics programs designed to meet the clear and present danger posed by this modern American minority with lethal force. In the X-Men, Prof. Xavier promotes mutual cooperation and understanding between humans and mutants, while Magneto argues for violent uprising against human oppressors, and the creation of an independent mutant state. Of course, this is offensively sloppy thinking, a political reduction so dramatic it approaches bad comedy.
Last week, we discussed a comic that won’t be in stores for another couple weeks. Today, I wanted to look at a book that actually hit stores two Wednesdays ago. Eventually, we’ll use the Wednesday Comics feature to talk about a comic that actually comes out on the same day as the column. But it would have been remiss of me to ignore the fact that today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. In honor of this milestone anniversary, Top Shelf Productions recently published March: Book One, the first of a trilogy of graphic novel memoirs written by Congressman John Lewis in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell. After being released on August 13, the book has already reached #1 on the New York Times‘ list of best selling graphic novels.