ANGEL TO REBEL EP5: Why Does Black Panther Wear A Mask?

ANGEL TO REBEL EP5: Why Does Black Panther Wear A Mask?


When I was younger, I used
to only see white people on TV, and I thought I was weird, because I had never seen any other Black
people, but the Black people I lived around, and then like when I finally did
start seeing people I’m like “How did they do that? How did they get there?
How did they get in the TV?” My name is Elgin Bokari and I’m a
graphic illustrator, teaching artist, and Program Director of Free Write
Arts and Literacy Program. Today we’re at First Aid Comics, which is one of my favorite comic
book stores in Hyde Park, or in the whole city of Chicago, to be honest. It’s not the biggest store in
Chicago that sells comic books, however it probably, in my opinion,
has the most variety in the city. You know, everybody should be able
to look at a comic and like, “Oh look, that’s me. That’s awesome. That’s rad.
There’s a hero that looks like me, and so we’ve tried to address that by making
sure that we have comics that reflect the readers who are coming in. I kind of wanted to use this opportunity to talk a little bit about, like, what is out there,
a little bit of the history of like characters of color. I wanted to make sure that she knew
that there are people that are out there, there are characters of colors
that are great, and finding the balance into telling people of color,
them telling their own stories. So what Marvel characters are you into?
Like which ones stand out to you? I know mostly about the X-Men, because
I heard the origin story for the X-Men was that they were supposed be
like Black people in the 1980s… I mean 1960s. There you go, there you go. And Professor X is supposed to be Martin Luther King and Magneto is Malcolm X. Absolutely! Good job! Right? When my uncle died, he left all his X-Men comics to me in his will. Storm was the first Black character I ever heard of. That’s kind of what drew me to them too.
I loved how they made her this strong, independent, take no BS type of person. Do you know who the first
Black comic book character was? Was it John Henry? Actually I’m glad you said John Henry.
Do you know who…Who is John Henry? It was interesting. He was trying to be
a machine to fix a railroad? so him and his people wouldn’t get fired and he ended up dying trying to do it. Yep! So John Henry was what you would
call a folklore legend. John Henry was used as a means of saying “Hey which is
more important the working man, or these new machines that are being put in?
So he was like, “Not only do ya’ll not need these machines, but I’m actually stronger and faster than any of these machines that are here, you know what I’m sayin? The second person I was gonna tell you about after that, It’s the first comic book character to have
his own series was a dude by the name of Lobo, but Lobo is like a cowboy Western comic book.
You ever heard of The Lone Ranger? I saw the movie. What if I told you the Lone Ranger was
actually based off a Black man? Oh…mm-hmm. And then you think about Lobo being the first African American character
to have his own comic book, but unfortunately the reason why that comic
didn’t do so well is because no one …wanted it…the comic book stores
did not want to put them out. They saw a Black face on the shelf
and they was like no. See what I’m sayin? When you think about that getting to the first Black comic book
character, which is Black Panther, so he’s the first comic book superhero to
basically have his own comic. What’s the difference between
this character and this character? Ummm…What do you mean? What in particular about the image in itself? The image kind of looks the same. How about that? His hair? Is he wearing a mask? Oh no. He’s wearing a mask though. Uh huh. What was the problem that happened
with Lobo’s comic book, in particular? Oh they saw a Black face and they didn’t want it. Mmm. But he has a mask and you
can’t tell if he’s Black or not. Mmm. In my opinion, it feels like they put a mask on his face because no one would
really know until they opened up the book, whether or not that person was
Black or not, so that’d mean you have to give this person a chance. It’s crazy.
You know what I’m saying? Just just like everybody else, you know, you have to find yourself
within comics, and I necessarily didn’t even really like Batman that much more than
I was more interested in the story of Robin because I saw myself in those
characters, you know? As I got older, I realized that the representation of
people that looked like me was not as big, and once I became more aware of that, I
started to then try to look for stories that gravitated towards people who struggle
through the Black experience, people who are now liberated
by that, and can have just a good story [Static Shock theme song] When I was younger this cartoon came on, and it was called Static Shock. I was watching and I was like He’s Black. That’s new. He’s the hero, he’s not the bad guy or anything. He’s saving people. He’s a teenager. He’s like going through actual life while doing this. And so I was like, I thought I wasn’t allowed to do it. I wasn’t supposed to do it. Like, seeing him have his own show and being the superhero, I’m like I can be a superhero too. These are some of the original Static Shock comic books and with Static’s story, in particular, talking about what it means to be a teenage boy,
as well as a Black teenage boy, I think it has a lot to do with him
actually being written by…Black people It’s important to have reference.
You know, people who look like you also worked on those stories too,
you know what I’m sayin, like Dwayne McDuffie had helped write some of the best DC animated episodes ever, and he helped create Milestone Universe and his stories was
so dope that he took something that he wanted to do on his own, and he met with
some friends, and then someone else thought that was even better, and then did it. So this booklet is some of the best,
Black independent comic book creators all over America. The person who is known as The Godfather of this independent black comic books is named Turtle Onli. He wants to make sure people that understand that you don’t need Marvel or DC in order to
tell your story, you know what I’m saying. Like you can do it your own, you can put on your own shows, and be successful at it. Shawn Alleyne…really, really dope
style. And he does all this stuff on his own, you know what I mean,
he doesn’t have to go through a major label anything like that. Also, well since we’re
over here, this is Ashley Woods. I kind of recognized it. Also, she’s working on her own
independent comic right now too. John Jennings, another really amazing artist. Everyone either wants to be on Marvel or DC. But, I learned later on, that it doesn’t
really have to be Marvel or DC to be good, and like, it’s a lot of comic books that are independent and I can have my own independent comic book. If you’re a new comic book artist,
I mean, comic book person, how can you get your book out
there because I heard that you have to pay to get your comic book places? You mean like in shops and stuff? Well, what we do is we do it by
consignment when it’s an unknown creator that we have not, that we don’t
know, or don’t have any sales history for. I really think the best way to get
started is being online, where you don’t have that cost, because the printing
costs are really tough. So many people read digitally now, especially when
they’re trying new things, people don’t like to spend 3-4 bucks on a book, but
they’ll download it digitally, you know, so it’s a great way to get started I think. I think we live in a generation right now, where since we have so much
access to everything, you know, it’s like the question often comes up,
well where the heck do I start? You know what i mean? Like, we become a tad bit
lazy in our teaching practice, you know, You can’t just say go do it, you know? I need a few tools. So I just wanted to let you know there’s a slew of different ways to make comic books. So alternative comic style is like
basically an alternate way of making comic books that are not your
traditional superhero type characters. For an example, this is Jimmy Corrigan right?
So it’s still telling a good comic book narrative but it’s used in a way that’s playing around with like not your traditional looking characters
or like have them be like the super hyper buff, like superhero characters, you
know? It’s another great example as far as like strong, dope, female characters, this is
Tank Girl, but I really love their style, like styles of like comic book creation
and stuff, and honestly, also you see like this comic is in black and white. Also look at the style of like, Scott Pilgrim…
I love that comic… but also like, look at it…super simple,
cute so I just want to make sure you see a couple of different styles, so
you don’t have to feel like your characters have to look like, you know…
X-Men…You know? There you go. Angel, actually one of the
promoters just dropped this off. Cake is coming up and I thought that might be
something you want to check out. It’s alternative comics and it’s a big event
here in Chicago. I’m probably wrong. I think it’s their third…
It’s their third…Yeah, I think it’s their third year and they’re good people. Well being in the store with all these comic books, I can picture Rebel here, but I don’t know if people would look past it or grab it. It can happen, you know? It’s like these people are tangible folks. They’re just like you and me, and
they had an idea just like you, and you can take that forward as far as you want to go. It takes just you, making that first step.

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