U.S. Embassy Screens Film on Black Superheroes in Comic Books

Have you ever heard of Lobo?

He was supposed to be the first black comic book superhero but he never got the chance to exist.

A portion of the audience at the Grand Salle for the screening of Dr. Jonathan Gayles’ “White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in American Comic Books.”

A portion of the audience at the Grand Salle for the screening of Dr. Jonathan Gayles’ “White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in American Comic Books.”

Creator Anthony Tallarico said the series he did for Dell Comics never made it into the hands of readers after Dell’s distributors first saw it when it came out in 1965.

“The moment they saw a black comic book in there, they sent the bundles [of comic books] back,” he related.

This story is one of the many told in Dr. Jonathan Gayles film “White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in American Comic Books,” which was screened by the U.S. Embassy at the Central Bank’s Grande Salle recently as part of the Embassy’s celebration of Black History Month. The event was held in association with the Central Bank of Barbados and AnimeKon.

The film cast the spotlight on a somewhat obscure area of the comic book world, highlighting the black superheroes who are still few and far between. Starting with the ill-fated Lobo, the history of the black superhero was told, from the 1966 appearance of the pioneering Black Panther through to the famed John Stewart Green Lantern who has lasted from the 1970s to the present.

American academic and filmmaker Dr. Jonathan Gayles (second from right) in discussion with Animekon founders Melissa Young (left) and Omar Kennedy (second left) and U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Rebecca Ross.

American academic and filmmaker Dr. Jonathan Gayles (second from right) in discussion with Animekon founders Melissa Young (left) and Omar Kennedy (second left) and U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Rebecca Ross.

The hour-long screening, which was followed by a question-and-answer session with Dr. Gayles, drew an enthusiastic and mixed crowd, including scores of young comic book aficionados who stayed long afterwards, engaged in passionate discussions with Gayles.

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