About the Exhibition
Beyond the Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics includes art pieces, interpretation, and activities designed to allow visitors to explore Afrofuturism through comics by Black creators.
At its heart, Afrofuturism calls our attention to how a black imaginary has “other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come.” A black vision of the future must contend with systematic oppression to imagine a better tomorrow. When the term “Afrofuturism” was coined by cultural critic and writer Mark Dery in 1994 (twenty-eight years after the creation of Marvel Comics’ Black Panther). He argued that this vision of freedom and hope percolated in “black-written” and “black-drawn” comic books. Dery’s observation highlighted how black imagination inspires change. While Marvel’s Black Panther captures one element of this history, this exhibit explores the rich legacy of comics created by black people. Black creators use comics to imagine our world in ways that embrace difference and celebrate freedom.
Metaphysics: Afrofuturism centers spiritual belief grounded in African cultural tradition.
Aesthetics: Afrofuturism elevates forms, shapes, and textures linked to Africa.
Science: Afrofuturism recovers the legacy of African learning and innovation.
Gender: Afrofuturism centers women’s worth, celebrates female strength, and elevates women.
Community: Afrofuturism emphasizes collective freedom and supports liberation for people of African heritage throughout the world.
From Matty's Rocket - Tim Fielder
LibGuides and Syllabi
- Afrofuturism LibGuide. Bethune-Cookman University
- Afrofuturism Syllabus. ZORA! Festival Academic Conference 2020-2021
- Graphic Possibilities: A Comics Research Guide
Books and Articles
- Anderson, Reynaldo. “Afrofuturism 2.0 & The Black Speculative Arts Movement: Notes on a Manifesto.” Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, vol. 42, no. 1–2, Spring-Winter 2016, pp. 230-271.
- Art Institute of Chicago. Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria, 2007.
- Asante, Emmanuel. Akan Proverbs: Their Origins, Meanings, & Symbolical Representations in Ghanaian Material Cultural Heritage. Accra: Asempa Publications, 2002.
- Black Panther Blog Series at Black Perspectives
- Chambliss, Julian C. “The Soul of Black Comics: An Interview with John Jennings.” Black Perspectives: The Blog of African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), October 14, 2017.
- Chambliss, Julian C. “A Different Nation: Continuing a Legacy of Decolonization in Black Panther." Ages of the Black Panther: Essays on the King of Wakanda in Comic Books, edited by Joseph J. Darowski, McFarland and Company, 2020, pp. 204-220.
- Kofoworola, Ziky. Yorùbá Names, Cosmology, Worldviews, and Dramatic Expressions. Nigeria: International Institute of Theatre, 2015.
- Ross, Doran, and Agbenyega Adedze. Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum, 1998.
- Schildfraut, Enid, and Henry John Drewal. Dynasty & Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria. New York: Museum for African Art, 2009.
- Thompson, Robert Farris. Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy. First Vintage Books, Random House, Inc.: New York, 1984.
- Womack, Ytasha L. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Lawrence Hill Books, 2013.
- Yaszek, Lisa. “Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future,” Socialism and Democracy 20, no. 3 (November 2006): 41–60.
Videos and Podcasts
- "Every Tongue Got to Confess Podcast." Based on Voices of the Black Imaginary (https://d.lib.msu.edu/vbi), Michigan State University Libraries. Podcast.
- LaFleur, Ingrid. Visual Aesthetics of Afrofuturism. 2011. Video.
- LaFleur, Ingrid. What does the Afrofuture Say? with Kevin Sipp. 2020. Video.
- The Last Angel of History. Dir. John Akomfrah. Icarus Films, 2016. Video. [MSU authorized users link]
- Nelson, Alondra. Afrofuturism Defined. 2010. Video.