various images and covers from black comics

AFRAS 475 - Super Black: The Politics of Representation in Comics

Super Black is the exploration of comics focused on the increased prevalence of black comic book characters and their creators.  We will delve into the purposeful and audacious inclusion of these culturally specific story arcs into the sequential arts medium.  Traversing from the early 20th century, Golden Age of Comics, where black representation was scarce, perpetuated stereotypes, and appearances were only secondary support characters, to their contemporary presence in comics media.  Now fantastic new visions of black racial identity and symbolic political meaning are exhibited.  Black superheroes are a powerful source of racial meaning, narrative, and imagination in American society that express a myriad of racial assumptions, political perspectives, and fantastic (re)imaginings of black identity.  These figures overtly represent or implicitly signify social discourse and accepted wisdom concerning notions of racial reciprocity, equality, forgiveness, and ultimately, racial justice.  This is an analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium, covering comic books, superhero comics, graphic novels, and cartoon strips.

Course Materials


About the Course Designer


Ajani Brown is a lecturer in SDSU’s Africana Studies Department. Brown proposed and developed the cutting edge course, AfroFuturism, which is the interdisciplinary study of African and African American contributions to science fiction, comic book art, pop culture, and its origins and influences. Brown's research focus includes literacy through sequential art, ethnogothic horror in comics and graphic novels, the depiction of Black characters in comics as it applies to visual rhetoric, Afrofuturism and social justice/political themes in fiction, comics and graphic expressions, in addition to cultural studies of the African diaspora.