Where are the Black Comic Book Superheroines?

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(Huffington Post) When it comes to female comic book superheroes of any race, Wonder Woman and Supergirl are by far the world's most recognized. Yet even with their international popularity, both have failed commercially in major films and television adaptations. This failure has historically been attributed to the white, male-dominated comic book industry and media, which is often accused of being largely inept in writing, crafting and celebrating complex female superheroines. It has also been attributed to our sexist culture, which struggles psychologically with the concept of women and power.

This difficulty to write white female superheroines (or, depending on who you talk to, Kryptonian and Greek superheroines who look white) has fallen down even more so on black female superheroines, who not only become victims to the white male sexist imagination, but, among other things, it's racist stereotypes. In fact, with the exception of the X-men's Storm, there are not any other widely recognized black superheroines in American culture.

Well, the work of Grace Gipson just may help to change all that. Gipson, a graduate student at Georgia State University, is researching the interpretations and history of black superheroines. Her work has centered on answering the question "What are comic books communicating about black women to younger male and female readers who participate in the cultural universe of superheroes?".

I caught up with Gipson to learn more about the black female superheroines that are out there, why we need to read their stories and why we should support black women and girls in being the heroes in their own lives.

Can you tell us more about your research on black female superheroines? Why did you choose to research this?

I chose this research because I wanted to provide a voice from a black woman's perspective regarding comics, especially the black female characters.

Also the comic book genre has primarily been discussed from the perspective and viewpoints of white males. There is very little research that specifically discusses the black female character in comics, so this was a great way to open this door even further.

What African-American superheroines are out there now?

Besides the ever popular X-Men's Storm, there are a numerous amount of black female superheroes/comic characters. Some of these characters include Dark Horse comic's Martha Washington, Milestone comic's Rocket, DC comic's Vixen, Crimson Avenger, Michonne from the graphic novel The Walking Dead, Marvel's Photon/Captain Marvel,Misty Knight, Melody Rich from Brotherman Comics, and independent Black comix characters Oya, Prodigy, Amazula just to name a few. It's important to note that the black superheroine is not just in the mainstream comic world (i.e. Marvel , DC and Image ) but is quickly growing in the independent comic genre.


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