During my series this month I’ve mostly stuck to a chronological order, Storm and Luke Cage being the exception because Storm is my personal favorite so she always goes first. Now I’d like to take a moment to look at a few newer titles that show a heartening move toward far more diversity in the comic world.
Princeless – I cannot say enough about my deep and abiding love for Princess Adrienne. She is the Princess I would have aspired to be when I was a smart ass rebellious kid. She gets angry at the fairy tale her mother the Queen is reading her at bedtime because of all the plot holes. The idea of locking a princess in a tower sounds insane to her. Although her mother tries to explain that it is something that happens for good reasons. Flash forward and there is Princess Adrienne in a tower of her very own with her own dragon watchdog. She gets tired of watching her would be rescuers being eaten and cuts a deal with her dragon; they’re going to go save the other princesses in the tower and free the dragons who are in servitude. How can you not love this girl? She is not a “fair maiden” as one of the princes calls her. She is not blond, blue eyed or pale. She is a princess of color and she will not let you forget it. Princeless turns fairy tales on their heads and should be required reading for every little girl obsessed with the Disney princesses and other boys and girls too, young and old.
Holmes and Watson – What if Baker Street was in Harlem and Sherlock Holmes a man from the ‘hood? Watson and Holmes shows you exactly that. A far more equal team than in traditional Holmes and Watson stories, Watson and Holmes depicts Jon Watson as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan studying to be a doctor. While working his internship in an ER one night he meets Sherlock Holmes eccentric PI. As is often the way, Holmes drags Watson into his case but as much as Watson complains it adds some vibrancy back to his life that he can’t deny he enjoys. All the familiar characters are there but they’re all just a little different. The cases suit the urban landscape and the characters feel authentic for the setting. Like any good Holmesian story it’s also a ton of fun to see the trouble these two get themselves into.
Not So Super – Is the newest of the three. It has had only one issue so far but it draws you in from the start. The lead character Dan is just an average IT guy, just living his life. Over the course of the first issue, Dan becomes anything but average. He’s developing superpowers. I love the art in this book. Dan is so small against the big city around him, adding to his feel of just being a cog in the big corporate world. We get a sense that Dan is a good guy, well liked but not extraordinary in any way. What happens when he discovers how wrong an assumption that is? I’m completely intrigued by Dan’s story and in love with the comic itself. I can’t wait to see where Dan heads next.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence most of these books involve African American creators in one way or another. The best way to improve diversity in media is to get more diverse creators working in the industry. All three of these books have broad appeal. They are not niche books. They are all independently published. This is also no coincidence. Much like female artists and writers, African American creators are probably finding it easier to produce in independent comic publishing. There’s no one to tell you what you can and cannot do, therefore anything is possible.
Check out any or all of these titles. You’ll be glad you did.