“Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalms 139:6-KJV)
In the Jewish tradition a golem is an unfinished human normally made of dirt or clay. As described in Genesis, you could say that Adam was unfinished until God breathed life into him. I could carry on and discuss the benefit of God as He applies to life, but this is not the place. In this place we should applaud J.G. Jones (Before Watchmen and Doc Salvage) and Mark Waid (writer of the post Secret Wars Avengers) of Boom! Studios for taking this story on at this or anytime. In the limited series Strange Fruit, Jones and Waid have chosen to take on the segregated south in 1927. The rains have come and the Mississippi is flooding and the good people of Chatterlee, Mississippi are trying to save their town. Given that it is the 1920’s you can imagine who is doing most of the work. Guess what happens when some of the good folks feel that working dust to dawn is not sufficient to protect the town. What’s more interesting is the “comet’ that crashes one night in the middle of the storm and the buck naked man that appears to save the day. For those of you whose understanding of strange fruit starts at Kanye West, here’s some learnin’ fo’ ya’. Strange Fruit was originally entitled Bitter Fruit and was written as a poem by teacher Abel Meeropol after seeing a photo of two Black men who had been lynched. He added music and it was sung by his wife Laura Duncan, who was black, as a protest song in New York during the 1930’s. Billie Holliday recorded it in 1939, and the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978.
The story is well-done and the painted pages are perfect to tell the story. I have often complained that comic artists can’t seem to properly portray Black folks (especially our hair), but J.G. Jones has done a great job. I guarantee the last frame of the first issue will elicit a chuckle from more than a few and elicit the ire of others. The comment pages as well as some of the reviews of this comic seem to mirror comments I have seen of late over the use of the Confederate flag, the death of Freddie Gray, and several other issues we all could name. What is most disturbing to me are those that are disparaging this effort. The reality of racism is not some ancient myth of America, nor is it a protected experience limited to blacks. I agree that there were a few missteps with the marketing and the imagery in the first issue, but I know the end of racism in America starts with honest conversations without the bitterness of the memory of our ancestors’ pain. Waid was born in 1962 in Alabama, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on the intent of his portrayals, since most of the critics weren’t even alive when Michael Jackson still had his afro.
It’s past time for the inheritor’s of King’s Dream to stop exemplifying the stereotype for millennials of the self-serving heroes of civic righteousness, and truly embrace King’s understanding that it will take all shapes, sizes, levels of knowledge and experience to overcome hundreds of years of prejudice. For the haters I will say this, the perceived errors and misjudgments are an opportunity for a compassionate discussion, not decried as further evidence of white privilege. So, I request that you open your minds, pick this comic up, and judge for yourself. I sure will for no other reason than to see where the discussion in this comic goes.
E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She’s a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at email@example.com or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister