Their idiosyncrasy and enthusiasm lends the prose the verve that Brown lacks. Brown attributes his success as an interviewer to "conversation based on affiliation [ In presenting these conversations, Brown lends his readers the encyclopedic knowledge of context that he claims comics fans draw on in order to interpret any new book.
For instance, the beloved issue in which the teenaged Milestone hero Static defeats superbaddie Tarmack might seem to the uninitiated reader to be indistinguishable from the usual "comic book story about two superpowered, costumed characters fighting it out" Only by comparison with the "hypermasculine might-makes-right norm" of other popular books do this text and others like it emerge as "alternative models" of manhood.
Here and elsewhere, Brown affirms the validity of his reading with quotations from the boy fans who say they appreciate Milestone comics explicitly "for what they're not" — in other words, for their situation within the larger comics ecosystem. These later chapters, dominated by the voices of the creators and the fans, are great fun, but Brown is again perhaps too uncritical. He notes with amusement that fans perceive the geeky fanboy stereotype "always in those around them, never in themselves" 66 but elsewhere he wholeheartedly embraces, without further evidence, the boys' assertions that they like the comics for the "values" they embody , that the books have made them less racist , or that they have become better students as a result of their interest in comics He neglects to explore the obvious ideological incentives for members of a marginalized subculture to express themselves in these terms — perhaps because he finds himself, as a writer about comics, identifying with their defensive posture.
In positing a collaborative "integration that exists between the fans and the small industry of professionals" 91 , Brown cites only urban legends of fans who became professional artists or whose comments influenced storylines — incidents that he admits are probably apocryphal. Brown's most troubling failure of critical imagination is that he repeats the Milestone creators' claim that they hope to avoid "preachy" or overtly political content 32 , and in almost the same breath explains that they aim to "show the quality and diversity of African American life" We might permit a producer of comic books to insist that his message of tolerance, multiculturalism, "resisting the lures of gang life, excelling in school, caring for younger children, developing his body in the gym, playing wholesome sports, and even helping a little old lady with her groceries" is somehow universal and apolitical, but we expect sharper scrutiny from a scholar of popular culture.
Brown's strongest critical claims — regarding intertextuality and masculinity, and their relation to race — are all reprised in the final chapter, "Drawing Conclusions," where they are uncluttered by the description and summary that characterize the earlier chapters. Brown's clear prose, his extensive engagement with other critics, his inclusion of illustrations from the original comics, and his accessible conclusions make this chapter a useful model for familiarizing students with the work of cultural studies. Despite their commercial appeal and cross-media reach, superheroes are only recently starting to attract sustained scholarly attention.
This groundbreaking collection brings together essays and book excerpts by major writers on comics and popular culture. While superhero comics are a distinct and sometimes disdained branch of comics creation, they are integral to the development of the North American comic book and the history of the medium. For the past half-century they have also been the one overwhelmingly dominant market genre. The sheer volume of superhero comics that have been published over the years is staggering.
Major superhero universes constitute one of the most expansive storytelling canvases ever fashioned. Moreover, characters inhabiting these fictional universes are immensely influential, having achieved iconic recognition around the globe.
Their images and adventures have shaped many other media, such as film, videogames, and even prose fiction. The primary aim of this reader is twofold: first, to collect in a single volume a sampling of the most sophisticated commentary on superheroes, and second, to bring into sharper focus the ways in which superheroes connect with larger social, cultural, literary, aesthetic, and historical themes that are of interest to a great many readers both in the academy and beyond. M67 In a matter of years, the skies of the imaginary world were filled with strange mutants, aliens, and vigilantes: Batman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and the X-Men--the list of names as familiar as our own.
In less than a century, they've gone from not existing at all to being everywhere we look: on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and dreams.
But what are they trying to tell us? For Grant Morrison, arguably the greatest of contemporary chroniclers of the "superworld," these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves, our troubled history, and our starry aspirations. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, science, mythology, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of the superhero--why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are.
Brown Call Number: PN B76 Online. A history of the trailblazing comics that broke color barriers and portrayed African Americans in heroic storylines What do the comic book figures Static, Hardware, and Icon all have in common? Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans gives an answer that goes far beyond "tights and capes," an answer that lies within the mission Milestone Media, Inc.
Milestone was the brainchild of four young black creators who wanted to part from the mainstream and do their stories their own way. This history of Milestone, a "creator-owned" publishing company, tells how success came to these mavericks in the s and how comics culture was expanded and enriched as fans were captivated by this new genre.
Jeffrey a. Brown Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, And Their Fans Studies in Popular Culture
Milestone focused on the African American heroes in a town called Dakota. Quite soon these black action comics took a firm position in the controversies of race, gender, and corporate identity in contemporary America. Characters battled supervillains and sometimes even clashed with more widely known superheroes. Some competitors, however, accused their comics of not being black enough or of merely marketing Superman in black face. Although three of Milestones original four comic book series focused solely on black heroes, the creators are always careful to declare that their line empha- sizes multicultural characters.
We could have done just African American comics because that is obviously the experience that we understand best, but we realize that that is only one of many possible viewpoints that we want to bring forward for our readers. The second crucial point that the Mile- stone founders agreed upon was the need to reach the largest audience possi- ble through a professional system of distribution. With their combined experience of the comic-publishing business they knew that creating quality books would not be a major problem. Distribution difculties, on the other hand, have often been the downfall of new companies without the manpower or the established contacts to see that the books get into enough stores on time every month.
Consistency of printing and distribution is a key factor in establishing a large and loyal fan following. If a reader picks up an issue and is intrigued by the book the publishers need to build on that interest immediately. If the next issue does not appear on the stands for another four months there is a good chance the reader will have moved on to other titles or not be willing to invest his or her dollars in a series that is difcult to follow on a regular basis.
Even the extremely popular line of comics from Image have been harshly criticized by retailers and fans alike for their inability to meet monthly release dates. In order to fulll their distribution goals the Milestone group struck a coop- erative deal with DC Comics, the industrys second largest publisher. DCs status within the industry and their experimentation throughout the s with such cutting-edge concepts as prestige format books, maxi-series, inter- company crossovers, and their AIDS awareness program made them a likely partner for the Milestone group.
On a practical level Denys Cowans long and notable career at DC helped to open doors and ensured that the Milestone proposal would reach the desk of Paul Levitz, DCs vice president in charge of A Milestone Development The initial formal proposal put forth by Milestone outlined three major areas: strategic marketing information, a detailed description of the four original books, and a prole of the companys nancial and corporate structure.
DC was immediately interested in the poten- tial partnership. During the fall and winter of the two companies entered into a series of meetings to hammer out the legalities and establish a suitable system that would essentially see DC operating as the printer and distributor for Milestones comics. The arrangement in negotiation had never been tried before in the comic book industry. The nearest model was the work undertaken by the Will Eisner and Jerry Inger studio in the s and s. Fox in A Milestone Development. Fundamental to Milestones agreement with DC was that they would not relinquish any of the legal or creative rights to their work.
Throughout the negotiations Milestone, and their lawyers, insisted on three basic points: 1 that they would retain total creative control; 2 that they would retain all copyrights for characters created under the Milestone banner; and 3 that they would have the nal say on all merchandising and licensing deals pertain- ing to their properties. Rather than the work-for-hire deals of the Eisner and Inger era, the Milestone-DC contract, which was nalized in May of , is comparative to the standard relationship between independent lm production companies and major Hollywood studios.
In addition to printing and distributing the books DC is also respon- sible for promoting the Milestone titles within the pages of their regular comics, in all marketing materials, at conventions, and in any other media, such as the recent venture of the DC family of comics going interactive through a special promotional arrangement with American Online.
By entering into a partnership with DC, which is a subsidiary of the multimedia conglomerate Time-Warner, Milestone became an immediate presence in the comic book industry. Their books were guaranteed to be produced and distributed on time, automatically appeared in all the major retail ordering catalogues, were granted better shelf space in comic specialty stores, and were made available in convenience, gro- cery, and regular book stores. DC also serves as Milestones licensing agent for other media and ancillary products and helps to arrange lucrative deals like the award-winning one-hundred-card set of Milestone trading cards produced by SkyBox International.
This innovative relationship meant that Milestone could avoid the precari- ous dangers faced by most independent publishers. Although the early s was a period of incredible growth for the comic book industry with over twelve hundred individual titles being released every month, it was also a time when many lower-prole books could be lost in the crowd. This [Milestone] is the rst independent company to get any major nancing. Others are run on a shoestring. This deal makes them a major force quoted in Silverman , The Milestone founders point out that the deal with DC also freed them up to produce an entire line of comics rather than a single title, and the conventional wisdom is that a publisher needs a minimum of four books that are recognized as a cohe- sive group.
By starting with four books, fans were exposed to a new Milestone issue every week and could begin to recognize character and company consis- tency even if just from the covers. In addition to the practical business aspects, the prospect of launching multiple series simultaneously was also a crucial ele- ment for the presentation of Milestones political agenda. The central goal of Milestone in their attempt to address the lack of minority representation in comics, and the often stereotypical nature of that representation when it does occur, is to show the quality and diversity of African American life.
To, as Dwayne McDufe puts it, break up the idea of a monolith. In a special edition of the critical fanzine Comics Journal, an edition focusing on black comics artists, McDufe explains their desire to create an entire line: Theres a creative freedom that we gain by doing more than one book. My problem and Ill speak as a writer nowwith writing a black character in either the Marvel or DC universe is that he is not a man.
He is a symbol. Like Wonder Womanif you write Wonder Woman, she is all women. You cant do a character. On the other hand, if I write a white characteras I have in most of my career, because thats whats avail- ablelike Dr. Doom or Captain America, neither one of them represents white Ameri- cans.
Cage is all black people.
Deathlok is all black people. It limits the complexity and the roundedness of the characters. If Milestone had done just one book, whoever that character was would have been limited to being like what Sidney Poitier was in the s movies. But we present a range of characters, guys who are all different from each other, as different as all of us are from each other. We all share an interest in comics, but we all are very different politically and sociallywhat we think is important, who we think should be president, and any other issuejust like any other group of human beings.
By A Milestone Development I would not presume to speak for black people in this country. Its ridiculous to attempt to do that. An analogy: you watch the news every night and the anchor man will say, Black opinion on this issue. No one would even begin to try to do that with whites. Its ludicrous for me to sit here and say, White opinion on abortion is this. But because we are so used to dealing with blacks or with anyone considered the other as a monolith, we think its okay to say, This is their opinion.
Well, in my house there are different opinions, much less within my community and within all blacks in Americawe all agree on every single thing? Were all the same guy? Of course were not. And as long as the media keeps presenting us that way, it promotes racism. Norman , From the very beginning the Milestone creators have made clear that their comics are meant to be entertaining stories that seek to promote racial under- A Milestone Development. It was a conscious decision by the founders that in approaching their creations as entertainment rst and a source of political agency second they would be better able to effect cultural change without alienating the core audience of comic book readers.
Months before the books were released, Michael Davis stressed in a Washington Post piece, We are not going to produce preachy comics. What we want kids to do is pick up our books and get a better understanding of the multicultural experience Single- tary , E In the introductory editorial page of all four of the rst issues, Milestone openly declared their general agenda: Diversitys our story, and were sticking with it. The variety of cultures and experiences out there make for better comics in here. When people get excited about the diversity in here maybe theyll get just as excited about the diversity out thereCall it a mis- sion.
This political message writ large does not mean that the Milestone titles have stayed away from specic controversial topics. Within the rst year the various story lines had explored a variety of sensitive issues including gang violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and the often strained black and Jewish community relations.
But despite these progressive topics, Editor in Chief McDufe maintains that Milestones major job is to entertain people, because even if you want to send a message you need to recognize that the best propaganda is the kind people dont notice. Nobody wants to sit through a lecture. Milestone Media, that is! Milestone is an all-new line of comics featuring the adventures of a culturally diverse mix of superheroes, battling in the city of Dakota, and driven by internal conicts that shape them in ways rarely explored in comics Kupperberg , 1.
Hardware was the rst series released on February 23, Blood Syndicate followed the next week, with Icon the week after, and Static rounded out the month. A year later the original four books were joined by Shadow Cabinet, Kobalt, and Xombi. The diversity that Milestone hopes to represent is apparent in the fundamental differences of each of the titles.
Linked in their struggle to defeat the S. Hardware g. Metcalf has a father-son relationship with his white boss, Edwin Alva, Dakotas most promi- nent businessman and leading industrialist. Alva had sponsored Metcalfs edu- cation and encouraged his achievements since discovering him at a grade- school science fair. Believing that he is a favored son, Metcalf is shattered when he discovers that Alva has only been exploiting his genius all along and really sees him as no more than a useful servant.
Hand in hand with this personal revelation, Metcalf realizes that Alvas industrial empire is a front for his illegal activities as one of Dakotas leading organized-crime bosses. Metcalf feels compelled to seek vengeance on Alvas criminal empire and uses his unparal- leled skill as an inventor to create a super state-of-the-art cybernetic battle suit to wear into his personal war.
Armed with an array of plasma guns, laser can-. Hardware is Milestones angry black man who ghts against personal injustices As the series has continued, Hardwares role has developed beyond that of an extremely disgruntled employee to a more mature hero. Unlike more tradi- tional comic book characters who seem to embody noble heroism as an innate personality trait, Hardware is portrayed as a man who must learn to conquer his own rage.
Writer Dwayne McDufe describes the series as about a very confused man who has to come to terms with his own life, his own morality and his responsibilities before he can truly be a hero. Hardware is a book about a man who must overcome his worst instincts and rise above his personal prob- lems. Thanks to the help and criticism of Hardwares cast of supporting char- actersincluding Metcalfs girlfriend, Dr. Barraki Young, a professor of African American Studies at Medina University, and Deacon Phreaky Deak Stuart, a computer hacker extraordinaire and clandestine information gatherer for Hard- wareMetcalf is slowly learning to channel his anger into more than just per- sonal vengeance.
Throughout the series Hardware has fought to understand his world and to atone for the lives he callously takes in his initial battles with Alvas forces, and he eventually even enters into an uneasy alliance with his former nemesis. Milestones second core title to see publication, Blood Syndicate, is also perhaps their most controversial.
Written by Ivan Velez Jr. The origins of the characters superpowers can all be traced back to the night of the Big Bang, one of the fundamental events of the Milestone universe. The Big Bang was supposed to be the nal turf war be- tween all the major gangs on Dakotas downtrodden Paris Island. The police intervened by ring a radioactive gas into the melee; they thought that the gas would act as a marker, allowing them to arrest over ve hundred gang mem- bers by morning.
Instead, the experimental gas killed hundreds and left the few survivors with superhuman abilities. A group of the powerful bang ba- bies banded together to form the most formidable gang ever: the Blood Syn- dicate. The Blood Syndicate is clearly not a team of superheroes. They are a street gang of urban outcasts more concerned about protecting their turf and garner- ing respect than about doing good for the greater community. The members A Milestone Development Among the story lines that Blood Syndicate has dealt with are Fades sexuality, Flashbacks problems with drug addiction, and the ongoing reliance of the characters on the gang as a surrogate family.
A central theme of the book is the bleak reality of gang violence. Unlike other comic books about superteamscomics like DCs The Justice League, Marvels The X-Men, or Images YoungbloodBlood Syndicate is a consistently realistic treatment of violence and its repercussions, or at least as realistic as is possible in a book populated by superpowered beings.
As McDufe, who also edits Blood Syndi- cate, tells Comics Scene magazine in a special issue on the rise of new comic book universes, The primary rule in our universe is that actions have conse- quences. If you punch someone through a wall, it hurts. You cant deal with this kind of violence and tell people there are no consequences. That goes across our entire line. Hardware killed some people in the rst issuehe was absolutely wrongand he will pay for it. Denys Cowan adds, A lot of the violence in Blood Syndicate, the down-and-dirty violence as well as the mental violence, can be much scarier because you can A Milestone Development.
Thats why we feel that the violence in Blood Syndicate affects people much more than any other titles, because its real violence Nazzaro , Although the characters of Blood Syndicate are quick to resort to violence, the Milestone editorial stance tries not to glorify the street-gang men- tality but to reveal the aws and effects of that violence.
Contrary to the antiheroics of Hardware and Blood Syndicate, Milestones third book, Icon, is a traditional superhero series. Written by McDufe and drawn by M. Bright, Icon g. Icons story really begins in when an escape pod from an exploding extraterrestrial starliner lands in a cotton eld in Americas Deep South.
A slave woman named Miriam discovers inside the pod a little black baby who is actually an alien being whose appearance has been altered. Miriam christens the child Augustus Freeman and raises him as her own. Seemingly immortal, the adult alien now resides in Dakota as the success- ful corporate lawyer Augustus Freeman IV.
Freeman is an extremely conserva- tive Republican who continuously espouses the virtues of a Horatio Alger pull yourself up by your own bootstraps philosophy while keeping his Superman- like powers a secret. On one fateful night a group of teenagers from a nearby housing project attempt to rob Freemans luxurious home. With his extraordi- nary powers of ight and strength and his bulletproof skin Freeman scares away the intruders and admonishes them for their unlawful ways. Among the teenagers that night is Raquel Ervin, an idealist streetwise girl from the inner city who revisits Freeman the next week and convinces him to use his powers on behalf of those without any.
Ervin designs their costumes and Freeman becomes the red, yellow, and green clad Icon while Ervin, with the assistance of an alien power belt that allows her to absorb and refocus energy, becomes his partner, Rocket. An early company preview describes their relationship: Because Augustus has had so much for so long, he doesnt fully understand the needs of the people whom he protects. The teenage girl who insists on becoming his sidekick, Rocket, is a product of Dakotas worst section, Paris Island.
She and Icon have a profound effect on one another.
Rocket gets a glimpse of Augustus afuence, and inspiration from his mighty deeds. Icon, in turn, learns of a world of misery and failed expectations that he didnt believe still existed in this country. Together, Icon and Rocket tackle the worlds tough- est villainsand some of our biggest problems.
The partnership between Icon and Rocket is an uneasy one. The two char- acters represent different ideological poles politically and they often act as plat- forms for the narrative to work out diverse reactions to controversial issues. On the one side Icon is a very conservative persona very much akin to the A Milestone Development Booker T. Washington success-through-perseverance philosophy he has adopted, while on the other side Rocket, a Toni Morrison and W.
Du Bois fan, stresses the social injustices at work in the world, injustices that subjugate the downtrodden. The characters have clashed over such things as Rockets decision to keep her baby when she accidentally becomes pregnant thus be- coming the rst superheroine who is also an unwed teenage mother and Icons decision to support a new amusement park that caters to the rich but is being built on the ghettoized Paris Island, thus displacing poor people with nowhere else to go.
Derek T. Dingle points out that Despite, or perhaps be- cause of, their different viewpoints Icon provides us with the opportunity to explore opposing ideas about how Black Americans should operate. She challenges Icon to be a real hero for the people who need one, and he in turn challenges her to become more responsible.
Rather than taking a solitary political stance according to one racially informed posi- The nal title to be released in Milestones initial line was Static g. The most lighthearted of the four original books, Static is the story of Virgil Hawkins, a typically geeky fteen-year-old student at one of Dakotas troubled public schools, Ernest Hemingway High. Trying to impress some of the guys at school, Virgil sneaks off to witness the gang warfare on the night of the Big Bang.
Sprayed by the same radioactive gas as the gang members, Virgil sur- vives to discover that he now has the ability to manipulate electromagnetic currents; he can generate force elds, taser punches, lightning bolts, and can even y by surng on electrically charged discs of metal, such as garbage can lids or manhole covers. A comic book fan himself, Virgil relishes his chance to don his homemade blue and white tights and one of an assortment of base- ball caps to become the dashing teen superhero with the ready quip, Static.
Like the early Spider-Man stories, to which Static bears more than just a pass- ing resemblance, Virgils adventures always incorporate the realistic dilemmas faced by a kid who is also secretly one of Dakotas greatest heroes. He still has problems with girls, homework, bullies, his older sister, and with trying to keep his part-time job at a fast-food franchise despite consistently being made late for work by supervillains. Among his eclectic group of adolescent friends, the only condant who is aware of Virgils secret identity is Frieda Goren, Heming- way Highs most popular babe and girlfriend of one of Virgils buddies.
Static is a fun-loving book that explores the troubles and pleasures of modern adoles- cence at the same time that it offers traditional superhero fare and not so traditional problems, like trying to defuse the bombs and the propaganda of a militant black terrorist, accepting that one of your best friends is gay, and losing your virginity.
Static is denitely the kid in the Milestone lineup. He reacts to things as an average adolescent does. He doesnt have all the answers, he doesnt even know all the questions. Like many of Statics readers, Virgil Hawkins is trying to be the best possible person he can be despite what seem to be overwhelm- ing odds. Since Virgil is the youngest, and clearly not the most powerful, of Dakotas heroes, Static often focuses on his ability to outthink rather than outgun his opponents. Denys Cowan describes Static as by far our funniest booka lot of humor and wit that works well with the character development of the storiesbut it also deals with the belief that the underdog can win by not succumbing to the Im-bigger-and-stronger-than-anything-in-the-universe-so-Ill-just-smash- your-head-in mentality that we see in some comic books.
As Static, Virgil must learn to mature in order to survive. Underneath the costume and the witty repartee Static is still the same geeky kid struggling to defeat the bullies and keep his world in order. In the spring of , one year after the Milestone universe was launched, the company undertook its rst crossover event. A crossover is a marketing strategy to boost sales of interrelated series and is generally considered a mo- mentous occasion in the world of comics.
All of the titles in a companys line are engaged in a single epic story line that affects each of the characters in the ctional universe. In Shadow Cabinet a covert team of superpowered operatives are as- sembled by Dharma, an all-seeing Eastern Indian, to undertake Mission Impos- siblestyle assignments in order to secretly protect humankind. The Shadow Cabinet team includes a resourceful array of heroes including Iron Buttery, a headstrong Iranian woman with the ability to reshape any metal to her will; A Milestone Development.
Sideshow, a black neo-hippie shape-shifter who takes on animal forms; Iota, a playful woman who can shrink herself or any object she touches to the most miniscule proportions; Donner, a superstrong woman created by her fathers genetic experiments in Germany; and Blitzen, a superfast woman who is both Donners usual assignment partner and her lesbian lover. Xombi is less a super- hero series than an unusual combination of supernatural science ction and various religious mythologies. The main character is Dr. David Kim, a Korean American research scientist who is accidentally injected with his own nanotech- nologymicroscopic robots which can manipulate atoms and rearrange mole- cules.
Kim, in effect, becomes a man who can never die. His body is capable of immediate self-regeneration. The nal title to be added was Kobalt, which writer John Rozum describes as the sole proprietor of the post-modern weird- ness corner of the Milestone universe. The series is a semi-tongue-in-cheek spoof of the ultra-hard-boiled characters popular at other companies. The rough and grim Kobalt is forced to take on a teen sidekick and the new partner- ship becomes almost a comedy of errors in the way of superhero crime ghting. As a distinctly innovative change in the comic book publishing industry, the launch of Milestone was reported in dozens of newspapers, more coverage than any other new comic book publisher had received in the last fty years.
In fact, any coverage by the popular press is considered a remarkable boost for the entire comics industry since even after more than sixty years the medium has never managed to achieve the status or public notice accorded to other entertainment media such as lm or television. The press surrounding the formation and development of Milestone Media commonly fell into three overlapping categories: 1 general praise for the multicultural agenda of the company, with a particular emphasis on the need for positive role models for black children; 2 business-oriented proles of the unique publishing arrange- ment between Milestone and DC Comics; and 3 coverage of the criticisms directed toward Milestone by smaller independent black comic book publish- ers.
On the one side the media attention was a welcome and positive expo- sure, but on the other side the tone of the articles portrayed Milestone as a specically black company to such an extent that the progressive racial element of the books overshadowed any other perceptions. In other words, the Mile- stone comics were somewhat marginalized as black comics rather than as en- tertainment that just happens to feature black characters.
In an entertainment industry, especially one geared toward a young audience, to be perceived as political is really the kiss of death. Without fail the newspaper articles praising the development of Milestone dwell on the founders experiences as black childhood comic book fans.
As a child Derek T. Dingle, president of Milestone Media Inc. But when he and a friend, Denys Cowan, read about the superheroes and their mythical powers, they sensed that something seemed wrong besides just creepy villains and criminals. We didnt see any heroes in the comic books that looked like ourselves. None of the characters were African Americans Byrd , F Or as quoted in Newsday: As youngsters, when we read comic books, we never found Black characters. There were green and blue characters, but no one of a black hue Silverman , These accounts then segue into casual comments by current young readers bemoaning the lack of black superheroes.
For example the Washington Post reported the somewhat muddled comments of an eleven-year-old comic book fan who claims, Sometimes I want a Black idol. Sometimes you want an idol to be like you in the comic book. They dont have anybody that involves people like me. If I wanted to be like one of them, my idol would have to be white Singletary , E In addition to illustrating the fan origins of the Milestone founders, these early articles emphasize that the Milestone comics are positioned to ll the enduring void of positive role models for black chil- dren. There is little or no mention of these young black readers lives outside A Milestone Development While there may not be a strong presence of heroic black characters in the comic book pages, that does not mean that these children might not be nding positive role models in other areas of their lives, such as through sports, music, lm, friends, and family.
The sense presented in the press coverage is that the Milestone comics are not just one of many possible sources these children might have for developing an afrmative sense of self based on skin color but perhaps the only or most fundamental source. The thrust of much of the newspaper coverage was that Milestone was at the forefront of a new, more enlightened age in the world of comic books. The article actually is con- cerned with a variety of changes in the industry including a marked rise in the popularity of female superheroines like Marvels She-Hulk and Dark Horses Ghost and Barb Wire; the popularity of serious comics aimed at an adult audi- ence, comics such as those in DCs Vertigo line e.
But the article focuses on the black characters of the Milestone books as the vanguard to this supposedly new and enlightened age of comic books and includes an illustration of Icon and a photograph of the Milestone creators. Other articles, including one in Black Enterprise maga- zine, refer to Milestones development of black superheroes as a full-blown revolution.
In fact the revolution catchphrase became an essential and dening element in the public perception of Milestone. While coverage of this type is undoubtedly good exposure for a new line of comic books, it also set up Milestone as the black comics publisher. The revolution rhetoric espoused by the press was reinforced by Milestones own promotional materials, such as their posters and in-comic advertisements that carried the tag line This Revo- lution Will not Be Televised and subscription forms declaring, A Revolution in Comics, Ongoing Monthly.
Despite the founders constant claims that their comics would be rst and foremost good superhero stories regardless of the color of a characters skin, Milestone was placed in the bind of being perceived not just as a producer of another new line of comic books but as a producer of revolutionary, pro-black stories, period. The necessarily narrow focus of the media items so clearly linked Milestone with an agenda of creating black super- hero role models that some readers thought, as one fteen-year-old fan told me, Oh, I dont pick up Milestone books cause I already know what theyre about.
Its a black thing. However much Milestone wanted to start from scratch and have their success or failure determined by the quality of their storytelling, they quickly became burdened with their target audiences pre- conceived ideas of what identiably minority-based comics must, or at least should, be about. The second main focus of the press coverage surrounding the creation of Milestone Media concentrated on their unique relationship with DC Comics. All of the media reports at least mentioned the unprecedented publishing agreement, and the industry fanzines often described the deal in great detail due to its potential to reform company alliances and the very nature of inde- pendent publishing.
The weekly business newspaper Crains New York Business gave the cooperative deal front-page coverage and argued that if Milestone succeeds in breaking the dominant white mold they may create opportunities for Latino, Asian and female writers and artists by broad- ening the established market for comic books Breznick , 1, Like- wise, a piece in the business section of the Wall Street Journal reported thus: Established companies are joining forces with small and minority businesses that understand niche markets.
The partnerships grew out of decisions by the big companies to look outside their corporate cultures to add ethnic diversity to their product lines. Simply hiring Black artists and editors wouldnt achieve the same result, says Paul Levitz, publisher of DC Comics, which will distribute the Milestone produced comic books. By reaching to an outside structure, you can tap into a passion that you couldnt put together on demand, Mr.
Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans - Jeffrey A. Brown - Google книги
Levitz adds Wynter , B The article stresses that Partnerships between large corporations and small independent compa- nies are hardly new, but Milestone serves as a model of how a small black rm can benet from forging a strategic alliance with big business Brown , But in addition to the potential benets of these possible unions, the pieces author, Carolyn M. Brown, is quick to point out that such afliations often bring with them their share of criticism from other black organizations. Indeed, most of the attention in the popular press was concerned not solely with the groundbreaking development of Milestone Media but with the appar- ent clash between Milestone and some of the other, smaller independent black comic book publishers.
Foremost amongst Milestones critics was Ania Swahili for protect or defend , a small consortium of black independent comic A Milestone Development