Some comics fans view the industry’s Golden Age (1930s-1950s) as a challenging time when it comes to representations of race, an era when the few Black characters appeared as brutal savages, devious witch doctors, or unintelligible minstrels. Yet the true portrait is more complex and reveals that even as caricatures predominated, some Golden Age comics creators offered more progressive and nuanced depictions of Black people.
Desegregating Comics assembles a team of leading scholars to explore how debates about the representation of Blackness shaped both the production and reception of Golden Age comics. Some essays showcase rare titles like Negro Romance and consider the formal innovations introduced by Black comics creators like Matt Baker and Alvin Hollingsworth, while others examine the treatment of race in the work of such canonical cartoonists as George Herriman and Will Eisner. The collection also investigates how Black fans read and loved comics, but implored publishers to stop including hurtful stereotypes. As this book shows, Golden Age comics artists, writers, editors, distributors, and readers engaged in heated negotiations over how Blackness should be portrayed, and the outcomes of those debates continue to shape popular culture today.
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