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Comic books come of age – the depiction of race in graphic novels

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The idea of comic books may bring to mind images of awkward teenage boys and eccentric collectors for some, but comic books have grown up, and they even have an upscale moniker – Graphic Novels – to match their diverse subject matter and increasing influence in our culture. Movie and television studios have increasingly turned to graphic novels for stories; such familiar movies and franchises as “Iron Man,” “Batman,” “Hellboy,” “Men in Black,” “Spider Man,” AMC’s popular zombie program, “The Walking Dead,” and the granddaddy of them all, “Superman,” all got their start with a pen and ink in serialized comic books.

RELATED: Click here for our Pinterest gallery with examples of depictions of race in comic books and graphic novels.

But as their popularity skyrockets, do graphic novels have an increased responsibility to reflect racial diversity and dispel stereotypes? A group of graphic novel authors and Professor Adilifu Nama from Loyola Marymount University host a conference today (Thursday) to discuss just these issues. Nama, the chair of the African American Studies Department at LMU, has applied this racial paradigm to science fiction in his 2008 book, “Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film” and joins graphic novel artists such as Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucaracha”), LeSean Thomas (“The Boondocks”) and others to talk about how graphic novels can address racial issues.


What is the influence of graphic novels in modern society? How can, or should, graphic novels address issue of race?


Adilifu Nama, chair, African American Studies Department, Loyola Marymount University

Lalo Alcaraz, creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha”; professor, Otis College of Art and Design

Professor Adilifu Nama will curate and give a lecture at Cal State Northridge’s West Gallery on February 25th from 4-7pm. The Art and Politics of the Black Superhero show runs February 25 - March 10, 2012. Call (818) 677-2156 for more information.