LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Comic books have the power to make people laugh, feel empowered or can be used to start some tough conversations like politics, race or activism.
In more recent years, comic stories featuring black superheroes have been emerging to the forefront in movies and television shows, however, comic books are still lagging behind.
“It was kind of limited to one kind of voice for a long time," said co-owner of Super Script, Elliot Frank. "And over time, like over the course of the 20th century, we've seen voices from different, more marginalized groups find that space and be able to, like, execute on ideas within it."
Frank owns Super Script in Lakewood with his wife, Christine, and Nick Kratsas. The three are highlighting comic books in their store, which feature black superheroes, artists and authors this month in honor of Black History Month.
“Comics is like many things, is still an art form where there are certain groups that are whose voices are marginalized," Kratsas said. "So we wanted to highlight some of those books and creators to elevate them and get them in in the spotlight a little more.”
Christine said it's important to note that these books can be found on their shelves year-round, but it was important for their customers to see them as we celebrate the achievements and history of African Americans. She said seeing these books front and center shows that representation matters.
“It gives you confidence. It gives you the, you know, safe and assurance to go out in the world and say, I can put my voice out there, too," she said. "I'm a valuable member of the society and people can see me and my story is represented and I can tell my story to hear."
Comics with black superheroes are near and dear to Dawn Arrington's heart. In 2018 she launched 'Comics at the Corner.' A reading imitative where she hands out comic books throughout low-income neighborhoods to combat high illiteracy rates. And she uses stories with black characters to start the conversation.
“I really just wanted to give out comic books to anybody that would take one in the neighborhood," Arrington said. “Just because you can't read or just because you are living below the poverty line. Doesn't mean that you don't deserve entertainment. Doesn't mean that you don't deserve fantasy. Doesn't mean that you don't deserve a whole person care."
Since she launched her program, she's given out thousands of comic books. But, recently she was just awarded a $5,000 grant to continue her mission. Already, Arrington said, she's invested half of the money into buying new comics to distribute.
“2021 is about to be exciting.”
You can join Arrington's conversation by joining her Facebook group: Comics at the Corner Discussion Group.