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10+ teosta 294 jäsentä 6 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Sisältää nimen: Ytasha L. Womack


Tekijän teokset

Associated Works

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction (2022) — Avustaja — 161 kappaletta, 3 arvostelua
Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future (2021) — Avustaja — 25 kappaletta
Uncanny Magazine Issue 3: March/April 2015 (2015) — Avustaja — 21 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua

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Black Panther: A Cultural Exploration is divided into seven chapters. Not counting backmatter, the book runs about 160 pages, and it reads quickly, as it is profusely illustrated; I got through it in one day. The first chapter is the longest, a fifty-page history of the comics character from Lee and Kirby through McGregor and Priest up to Hudlin and Coates. Chapters two through six each take an aspect of the character and his world and contextualize it in African culture, African-American history, and Afrofuturism, exploring concepts such as black panthers, African religion, utopia, warrior women, and so on.

It's neat but I often wanted more depth. Even at fifty pages, the history of the character just skims the surface. The other chapters are much shorter, and I often found myself thinking there had to be more to say about, for example, Black Panther and actual African religion, than we were getting here. But perhaps then this wouldn't be the book that it is—I am a hardcore comics fan and a literary scholar, and I don't think this book is aimed at either of those small audiences, much less both of them!

As a comics fan, I found some aspects of the books a little frustrating; references to specific issues don't always give dates, and there are, for example, six different issues called Black Panther #6, so clarification is pretty important. Sometimes comics are cited by story arc titles, which isn't very precise.  At one point the book says Reginald Hudlin wrote Shuri, but he did not; he wrote Black Panther vol. 5, which starred Shuri. At another, a page of art clearly from 1991's Black Panther: Panther's Prey #2 is mislabeled as being from 1966's Fantastic Four #52. Imagine mistaking Jack Kirby for Dwayne Turner! Most consistently and most annoyingly, there is a lot of beautiful cover art included throughout the volume, but this goes uncredited more often than not.

I do feel like I'm nitpicking a bit here. This book, after all, is probably not really for me, who has read (thus far) every Black Panther comic published from 1966 to 2006, but for someone who has seen the films and wants to know more about where the character came from. I think Womack's book is particularly valuable in its positioning of the character in the history of Afrofuturism and similar movements; there's a lot of good details here about the genre, and a lot of directions an interested reader could go if they wanted to know more. I found the discussion of "protopia" particularly valuable. And the book contains a lot of beautiful illustrations, both from the comics, and from the wider social world that the book seeks to illuminate. Just know that if you're an intense fan and/or an academic, there might not be as much here as you might hope for.
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Stevil2001 | 1 muu arvostelu | Apr 15, 2024 |
Black Panther: A Cultural Exploration, by Ytasha Womack, looks not only at the texts themselves but at the worlds they responded to and the worlds they have helped to create (now and in the future).

I know many people may be tempted to get this book simply because they love the recent movies and this volume is beautiful. By all means do so but read it closely as well. You'll learn about the writers and illustrators from the early years as well as those who brought the character and the story into our present. Most important you'll read about the social context within which the character was created and the changes in both society and popular culture that makes the story so powerful.

In making this journey you will, if you haven't already done so, be introduced to Afrofuturism. If this is an introduction for you, it will be a good one, though I still recommend reading some of the many wonderful books on the topic in literature and music as well as the fandoms. Like any speculative science fiction, though perhaps even more so with works within Afrofuturism, you have to look back to see how we got to where we are, then respond to that. This volume takes us on that trip, both within the publishing world and the society as a whole.

I would recommend this not only to those who are fans of Black Panther (isn't that just about everyone?) but also those who enjoy that area where fiction and real life come into discourse. That dynamic is made clear and understandable in this work.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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pomo58 | 1 muu arvostelu | Oct 5, 2023 |
There is a LOT of good stuff here, but whew, the book needed a vigorous editor and even fact checker. I grew restless during Womack's discussion of "African cultural astronomy" (she starts throwing this term around a lot without ever precisely defining it) and then had to put the book down when she attributed the destruction of the Library of Alexandria to Napoleon. It's a shame, because there is tough, searching material in this book, and the topic is important.
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tungsten_peerts | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 13, 2021 |
OMG I've only just read the introduction and the first couple paragraphs of the first chapter but I'm already in lurv!


This was a great book. I'd been a fan of Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, George Clinton/Parliament, and Sun Ra for some time now, and have been meaning to check out a few other authors in the Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism vein, but I never really made a connection insofar as a movement or genre. Ytasha Womack is engaging and balances well her personal experiences with an expository look into the movers and shakers of the AF scene. I now have a laundry list of artists, films, and filmmakers to check out. I especially loved the final chapters where Womack connects AF to community outreach, which is something I would LOVE to get involved in.

The only drawbacks to this book:
(1) (echoing another reviewer here) This book would have done well to include a recommended bibliography/discography, etc. As it stands now, just be prepared to take notes! You're going to want to explore.
(2) There were just a couple cringe-worthy incorrect historical notes (one I couldn't get over was that Napoleon had destroyed the library in Alexandria--I believe part of it caught fire with Julius Caesar's Civil War and was later subject to continued destruction by regional bigwigs).
(3) I tired a little with some of the digressions that were along the lines of "so these people aren't exactly AFs, but they did this one thing that could be included in the genre." This wasn't bad by any means, and it generally just illustrated Womack's point that African Americans have a rightful stake in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Surrealist communities, but it did strike me as a little bit of a stretch.

Regardless of these minor setbacks, this is such a terrific primer. I hope lots of people read it and are inspired to look more into the AF genre. I know I'll be thinking and talking about it for a long time.
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LibroLindsay | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 18, 2021 |


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