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.

Exhibition Introduction

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.

Main Sections

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.

Illustration from Matty's Rocket by Time Fielder

From Matty's Rocket - Tim Fielder

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