Keeping It Unreal
Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics
by Darieck Scott
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 18 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 07 Feb 2022
Explores Black representation in fantasy genres and comic books
Characters like Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Miles Morales, and Black Lightning are part of a growing cohort of black superheroes on TV and in film. Though comic books are often derided as naïve and childish, these larger-than-life superheroes demonstrate how this genre can serve as the catalyst for engaging the Black radical imagination.
Keeping It Unreal: Comics and Black Queer Fantasy is an exploration of how fantasies of Black power and triumph fashion theoretical, political, and aesthetic challenges to—and respite from—white supremacy and anti-Blackness. It examines representations of Blackness in fantasy-infused genres: superhero comic books, erotic comics, fantasy and science-fiction genre literature, as well as contemporary literary “realist” fiction centering fantastic conceits.
Darieck Scott offers a rich meditation on the relationship between fantasy and reality, and between the imagination and being, as he weaves his personal recollections of his encounters with superhero comics with interpretive readings of figures like the Black Panther and Blade, as well as theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Eve Sedgwick, Leo Bersani, Saidiya Hartman, and Gore Vidal. Keeping It Unreal represents an in-depth theoretical consideration of the intersections of superhero comics, Blackness, and queerness, and draws on a variety of fields of inquiry.
Reading new life into Afrofuturist traditions and fantasy genres, Darieck Scott seeks to rescue the role of fantasy and the fantastic to challenge, revoke, and expand our assumptions about what is normal, real, and markedly human.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
This book is an example of the kind of academic writing I love. Aesthetically, the author'a prose is well put together, dense with satisfying word choices and packed with references to all sorts of creative works.
There are also well-selected extracts from comics which augment the points made in the prose.
Comics are celebrated as a space for imagining different worlds, and acknowledging the brilliance of black, queer characters in our own world.
Having seen Brian Stelfreeze discuss how he created art to honour the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates for Black Panther, and having participated in discussions at ComicCons about Queer representation in comics, I appreciate these important strands being brought together.
There are artists and authors creating this important work and it's only right someone should take stock of what is being created, and theorising on its significance.
The analysis is clearly situated within the political context of post-Obama backlash, during Trump's presidency surrounded by 'latter-day Nazis'.
Comics are presented as a 'survival guide', a way to find 'happiness and justice'.
And in a way, haven't they always fulfilled this role for some of us?
Keeping it Unreal contains Scott's suggestions and celebrations of comics that can play a part in the survival and the justice-seeking of of those of us who aren't always represented in mainstream comics.
Review copy supplied by NetGalley
This was such a great read but it is dense and more of an academic lense than every day reading. The information and context it provides adds perspective to both commonly known and rather unknown characters throughout comic history and how marginalized identities have survived and sometimes thrived between the pages.