Martin Luther King As A Character

By | Monday, January 17, 2011 1 comment
To try to honor Martin Luther King Day here, I'm posting here the covers of all the comics I could find where he makes an appearance (but is not the subject)...

Yeah, just those eight. Granted, Dr. King was something of a controversial figure in his day, and I understand why he would NOT show up in the comics of the early 1960s, but with all the time-travel and flashbacks and parallel worlds and whatnot that appear in comics, I'd have figured that should warrant at least a few more appearances since then. As a points of comparison, Oprah Winfrey has the same number of appearances and Nikola Tesla has at least double.
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Matt K said...

I imagine that MLK kind of lacks a "wackiness" appeal which many other historical figures have. He's a revered figure, remembered for his work on serious issues which our society still struggles with, and he was assassinated, and he still feels relatively "near" in living memory.

Tesla, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Hitler e.g., are probably more readily dropped into comics stories because creators feel comfortable having fun with and/or making fun of them in a way that most probably don't feel about King.

Lincoln has obvious similarities to King, but Lincoln has been dead 150 years, and also has various elements to his story (backwoodsman origins, nutter wife, tall homely man in now-archaic stovepipe hat) which we can latch onto as objects of amusement. Which, I think, is frequently a goal with dropping a famous real-life figure into a comic story.

There are probably various funny aspects to King's life, but at present I think few people would feel comfortable with the idea of having a laugh about MLK. I suspect that the idea of using him in a story at all would probably make most writers uncomfortable, at least in comparison with the use of, say, Elvis Presley or J. Edgar Hoover.