“The Jim Crow Commando 4 Issue Mini Series is the medium by which I want to explore black racial stereotypes in media and art. It will tell the story of a generation of superheroes and their involvement in 4 wars of the United States. From The Revolutionary War to Afghanistan and Iraq.“Anthony Tyrone Howard, Author
When I was a student at Temple University as an African American Studies major, my favorite class was “Race in media”. Prior to attending the legendary “TU!”, I have always been a media obsessed kid. Absorbing with mind numbing details of all my favorite pastimes at the time, comics, cartoons and video games. Hundreds of good summer hours were dedicated to staring at the screen and the page.
What my time in my Race and Media classes opened my eyes to were the fact that media is like food. Some of it is prepared by a careful chef mindful of his audiences pallet. Most are like McDonalds, pushing out fast products while shaving as much cost as possible by using substandard content.
I started to look at my childhood chums like Bugs Bunny, who’s old Merry Melodie cartoons are hard to separate from white supremacist propaganda with the numerous racial stereotypes peppered throughout it’s run.
This further opened my eyes to how television and film at the time continued that tradition and it was hard to watch any current media without seeing how the traditions and imagery has evolved become more sophisticated.
Superheroes were ruined for me. It’s hard not to see Superman as the American version of the Nazi Ubermensch and Batman a right wing reactionary nut job who instead of using his billions to reform crime chooses to go into the ghetto and beat up (implied) minorities.
All this was floating in my head just before video of George Floyd’s murder was broadcast across all our screen. Watching how close we came to allowing a lynching to happen on our screen right in front of our eyes then return to our “Previously Scheduled Broadcast”. But something happened in everyone. A new boldness has come to the surface.
It’s with this energy that I started this project. As an outlet for these thoughts about Race and Media and how creative professionals and artist support and promote a system of white supremacy by passively and actively spreading harmful stereotypes. This bias comes of course because of the lack of diverse voices but also persists through the stories we tell ourselves. I’m not sure what new insights I’ll have at the conclusion of this projected 4-Issue limited series but I hope you’ll follow along on my journey of creation.
Each character in this series is an exploration of a particular stereotype. The main heroes are Featured below. Click each image to enlarge.
RIght now I’m in the process of scripting Issue 1 and will be distributing the comics via this website. Visit comix.atharts.com for updates and developments.