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A Different Kind of Hero: The Culture of Black Comix
Growing up, I always found the few Black faces in superhero comic books fascinating, like rare birds. Luke Cage, aka, Power Man, bristled with attitude like Shaft on steroids. Black Lightning bolted through the air with an electrified Afro. The Falcon soared beside Captain America as a dark sidekick. Each of these heroes personified stereotypes as they tried to transcend them as heroic role models. Today, a whole new generation of cartoonists has drawn a new generation of Black heroes. Damian Duffy and John Jennings’ Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture collects the artistry and ambitions of these artists hoping to express the essence of their culture while finding a place in the medium itself with a different kind of hero.
“From third grade to seventh I collected Marvel and swore by them,” admits Dawud Anyabwile, creator of Brotherman. “In seventh grade I recognized the disproportionate amount of black heroes to non-black in their books and also realized how stereotypical they were and tossed my books in the fireplace.” Brotherman and other African-American heroes take on villains in the form of racism, classism, sexism, and poverty. “African-American heroes can be a conscience of sorts for comics,” argues Stacey Robinson, creator of Abraham the Young Lion. “Our heroes don’t wear masks. Why? Simply put, our heroes represent realistic ideals. Justice, freedom and equality don’t wear masks.” The passion for social justice behind many of these heroes shines through in the art, which flies off of the page with a boundless energy and thirst for social justice not found in even the biggest mainstream heroes of the big comic companies. Duffy and Jennings examine the thinking behind these heroes and profile deeper thinkers such as William H. Foster, III, and the African-American academics known collectively as “Critical Front.” When the “Critical Front” academics take on personae such as Anthroman and Mad Law Professor, you get a sense of how this is serious play (or fun philosophy) in action.
Duffy and Jennings present the artists in alphabetical order, which seems the most democratic thing to do. All of these artists stand together as a multifaceted, diverse snapshot of the intersection of such forces as hip hop and manga in the artwork and writing of African-American independent comics. For the most part, the images are allowed to speak for themselves, but extra attention is given to standout figures, such as Anyabwile of Brotherman fame and Richard Tyler, II (aka, Uraeus), creator of Jaycen Wise, an immortal traveler “charged with the lofty responsibility of battling the forces of ignorance and darkness, to ensure the eternal preservation of knowledge, truth and light.” You’ll find yourself flipping back and forth throughout the book, lingering over different images every time. For someone unfamiliar with the realm of African-American independent comics, Black Comics opens up a whole new world of heroic possibility.
“The good news is we are here, and we are growing,” artist Turtel Onli, “the father of the Black Age of Comics,” announces. With their own conventions and even a museum of Black superheroes, Black comics are, indeed, present and increasingly accounted for by the Black audience they primarily serve. The next step, which Black Comix should help happen, will be to rise even further into the consciousness of mainstream America. Only then will Brotherman, Jaycen Wise, and others battle the injustice they were created to fight against at its source.
[Many thanks to Mark Batty Publisher for providing me with a review copy of Damian Duffy and John Jennings’ Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture.]
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.