Last post, I wrote about Michael Collins in Dwayne McDuffie’s Deathlok, today, I want to continue that conversation by discussing, briefly, Collins’ use of W.E.B. DuBois’ Double Consciousness when describing his identity. Michael’s quoting of DuBois is a direct continuation of his conversation with Misty Knight as the two talk in her apartment. Through these conversations, Michael and Misty Knight both navigate a world that constructs them as oppositional to the hegemonic society, as individuals, and things in the case of cybernets, to be feared. Lysa Rivera, in “Appropriate(d) Cyborgs: Diasporic Identities in Dwayne Mcduffie’s Deathlok Comic Book Series,” draws upon Franz Fanon to explore the ways that McDuffie uses Deathlok “to allegorize African American ‘diasporic’ identity formation.”
This past year, I have delved into comics more than I ever have in my life. This journey, ignited by some work I have done recently and the upcoming Black Panther film, has introduced me to various writers, artists, and characters that I had never heard of before. These texts approach topics such as race in nuanced ways that echo the “literary” texts that I have studied my entire professional career. I place literary in quotation marks because, as other have noted, I consider comics to be literature right up there with other cultural texts.
Note: You can win a copy of Kasai’s The House of Erzulie. Just tweet or retweet this post (make sure to tag me so I know you Tweeted it @silaslapham). The winner will be chosen randomly at noon Saturday January 13.
Recently, I had the chance to read Kirsten Imani Kasai‘s The House of Erzulie (Feburary 2018 Shade Mountain Press), a novel that, on the surface, reminds me of novels such as Octavia Butler’s Kindred (1979), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season (2013). The House of Erzulie tells the intertwined stories of Creole slaveholders Emilie and Isidore Saint-Ange in 1850s’ New Orleans and Lydia and Lance Mueller in present day Philadelphia. Imbued with the Gothic, Kasai’s novel explores the ways that the characters, specifically Emilie and Isidore, confront their “ethnic identity” as mixed-race individuals, specifically in regard to the ownership of slaves such as Albert, Poupette, and Emilie’s relative Chlotilde. With this, the novel needs to be considered alongside novels and works such as Ernest Gaines’ Catherine Carmier, a novel that contains Gothic elements while appearing as if it doesn’t, Lyle Saxon’s Children of Strangers, Edward P. Jones’ The Known World, George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes, Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C., works by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and more.