The purpose of my doing these articles is to showcase why representation matters and how Black comic book creators are rejecting the stereotypes about Black people and creating the narrative about who we are, by coming up with nuanced ways of expression.
When I was growing up, I was taught that comic books were not books and comics were nonsense. Because of this my introduction to the comic world came by way of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and the X-Men (TV series) were my favorite. I was completely drawn to the fantasy of it all. I’d imagine what if I had super powers, where would I go, what would I do. I’d get lost in my imagination, living through these characters on screen.
Although, I had a wonderful experience watching these cartoons, I learned as an adult that there was so much more to these characters that could only be found through the pages of their comics. There was an entire universe of wonder and adventure that I had missed out on. Thankfully, my son has had the privilege of experiencing the magic of these characters, and their stories, as they were intended to be enjoyed, through the immersive experience of reading comic books. Unfortunately, many in the Black community are still quite behind when it comes to the comic world, in understanding its relevance, its power to evoke fantasy, and spark ingenuity and creativity.
Far too many Black parents still don’t realize that there is so much that the genre offers, particularly to the young mind. It’s a missed opportunity for creative expression for a lot of people in our community. Oftentimes, we are disconnected from the larger media cultural framework because there is little representation. Infusing comics with fantasy, mysticism, space odyssey, historical reimagining, and many many more diverse creative elements, Black comic creators are working to change this lack of representation while providing a new narrative.
Luanga A. Nuwame was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He currently lives in Mississauga, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
Nuwame is best known as the award-winning YouTube cardboard craft designer ‘The Homemade Game Guru’. His original how-to crafting videos have garnered a 2008 Majorfun.com creativity award, mass media attention and over 5 million views. Luanga is also the founder of Zelpha Comics Ltd. Zelpha Comics currently publishes two comics: Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars and The Adventures of Little Petalianne.
His creativity and passion for writing have translated into numerous new books ranging from children’s picture books to relationship guides and fiction. An activity games book is also in the works for 2017.
The Cardboard Bible: Taking Cardboard Crafting to the Extremes of Creativity and Upcycling (Volume 1) Paperback – Large Print, September 27, 2015
Welcome to this new series dedicated to transforming ordinary cardboard into incredible, fun, useful and practical products for your personal use. This guide will showcase original creative concepts and will provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make the featured designs on YOUR terms.
Here’s the full interview with Luanga A. Nuwame:
How Did You Become Interested in Comics?
Here’s the thing. And I’m not sure if anyone else will touch on this. I’ve had this discussion. Many times, when I go to comic conventions and I’d search all Black creators.
Many things I have to say will probably be controversial to those in the community, but they have to be said there’s two problems that I’ve experienced that we have. One from my generation, I’m 43 years old. I’m a Generation X. And so, when I meet others of my generation, our stories are so in sync. It’s insane. We grew up with loving parents who believed comic books were nonsense and foolishness.
Ironically, my father’s the one who bought me my first ever comic book. Silver Surfer #4, which is still my favorite to this day. I was hypnotized. Stan Lee is my second father, his stories just opened up my mind. I became a reader overnight.
And then, of course, I start collecting more and more comic books. Then, it became a problem.Luanga Nuwame
What’s it like to be a Black Comic Creator?
It’s been an advantage. Being a Black person in the complicated has actually been a huge event where I I’ve gone to comic conventions where they’ve already filled up they have there’s waiting room only like us waiting list only and then they see Luanga Nuwame, you see my name, you know, it’s a Black guy you’re dealing with and they will put me in. Why, because they want to show we got diversity. So I use that to my advantage to get into shows that are booked up solid and they’ll find me table and I could even demand a corner table.
I go to these shows you know you have other Black people there and, of course, you had a majority white people walking around, but you have a good amount of Black people walking around. And the amount of times you see your own people walk by you like you’re invisible not wants to say hello.Luanga Nuwame
What’s Your Advice for Others?
We all have our talents and if you could monetize your talent. It just makes it even more sweet.
One of the biggest advice I want to give everyone is that don’t let this pandemic, and everything stifle you from getting out there because for me.
Even with all this and my weird talents of cutting things of cardboard, I’ve been in the news multiple times. Most recently, the Boston Reader’s Digest and USA CTV NEWS, which is the biggest Toronto news, Toronto being the fourth largest city in North America.Luanga Nuwame