Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett laments virtual San Diego Comic-Con from home, Nubia, and Dark Knights: Death Metal #1.
I've previously confessed my inexplicable appreciation for the much-maligned promotional comic whether it promotes tools, like Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves the Justice League (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy--The Reason Why They Invented Comics") or Kentucky Fried Chicken, The Colonel of Two Worlds (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy--Who Would Have Thought It?"). I'd think these comics are constructed to be read by anyone and everyone as they generally feature clean art, direct storytelling, and superheroes acting heroically; nothing dire, no moody brooding. Generally, they’re just fun (and I know this has become a much-devalued attribute) and nice. I honestly wasn't going to write about DC Comics again this week, then I saw this article.
Preview: 'Nubia: Real One' GN"). Created by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck, in 1973’s Wonder Woman #204, Nubia is considered DC’s first black female superhero, while not well regarded or remembered by mainstream comic book fans (If they think of her at all its as a desperate, fairly tone-deaf attempt at racial relevance). But she’s long been embraced by members of the black community, and recently Tiffany Haddish expressed interest in playing Nubia.
Nubia got a solid write-up in The Hollywood Reporter, and in this piece McKinney, a self-professed Blerd (a black, smart girl nerd) and author of The Nightmare-Verse fantasy books, explains she's been a fan of Nubia "since pretty much birth" and Smith, known best for the minicomic The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town, reveals her art is "heavily influenced" by Archie artist Harry Lucey. But there’s a more substantive article up on The Root that has a longer interview with the creative team. In it in McKinney said "Black women and girls are always, always, [relegated] to the margins in this sort of thing. We’re an afterthought. Left behind. Not viewed as important until we’re tired of being ignored and express that justifiable frustration. But then we’re called 'angry,' right?"
This is yet another example of just how significant comic book characters can be in people’s lives, and how important it is for underrepresented groups of people to see themselves reflected in the media. And while I know it’s getting to be a broken record (and I just made myself sad, thinking about how many people reading this will have no idea what ‘a broken record’ means), while it’s true the comic book industry needs to be more inclusive, this isn’t about well-intentioned idealism.
It’s about comics gaining new readers, tapping an untapped market, bringing new customers into your store, and (let’s face it) making some money off of all of the Nubia merchandise DC is hopefully planning. Right off the top of my head, I have to ask, why isn’t Nubia part of the DC Superhero Girls line? Given how people reacted to Calvin Ellis, the Superman of Earth-23, with some proper promotion on DC’s part it’s possible Nubia could be The Breakout Star of 2021.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.