On -isms: Strange Fruit

By | Thursday, July 09, 2015 Leave a Comment
I haven't read Strange Fruit #1 and the reviews I've read have all been less than flattering. Not so much that it's poorly written or drawn, just that the very concept is flawed. I was in a discussion about it with writer David Gallaher and former DC editor Kwanza Johnson that stemmed from a reading of J.A. Micheline's review here. Johnson put together a string of terribly on-point and elegant Tweets on the subject that, with his permission, I'm copying here, rather than try to crudely craft the same points myself.
Strange Fruit #1
First I haven’t read Strange Fruit yet, but it concerned me because of the background of the creative team. I’m not biased to non-Black authors writing stories about Black experiences, but Strange Fruit makes me wary. J. A. Micheline has an axe to grind here, but makes similar points about Strange Fruit written elsewhere. It’s a contention similar to mine in these matters which is; perspective. Strange Fruit seems to lack it. Perspective can be an elusive thing for a writer, and often requires thorough research to mitigate. That research can help develop strong enough empathy to write from a knowledgeable perspective. From what’s quoted, Strange Fruit seems to cadge from elderly White people's stories of the segregated US South. It also seems to cadge from the current trend of race and gender diversity in comics publisher's IP catalogs. Yet we know, the creative and editorial pool in comics lacks gender and race diversity – hobbling perspective. In superhero comics, we can pretend no one would freak out that Sam Wilson is Captain America but in the real world today, people still call the sitting US President a "Muslim." Strange Fruit seems to be commodifying race issues sans a balanced perspective on the era of US history. I make that claim boldly, as I know @DavidGallaher to be a writer who does thorough research for his stories. Point being I would trust @DavidGallaher to do his homework. I trust him to know he might not get perspectives right without it. There’s hubris is telling as story of this era where there are contrast perspectives to relay. But Strange Fruit also highlights another problem in comics... publishers have to cadge off notable creatives to sell, and as previously stated the industry lacks diversity. So comics are mired in a sort of austerity that leads to these misguided efforts. I believe there is a sincerity in creating Strange Fruit, but also a jarring obliviousness. A lot of good stories about Black experiences have been told by White writers, in part due to lack of opportunity. We need more diversity everywhere, but that requires actual diversity more than a fictional superteam lineup.
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