AngelFood McSpade is here to serve up all her Cake – The Black Jezebel of Underground Comix [Sort of NSFW]

Greetings fellow Comix Bawse!

Let’s jump back a few decades and talk about underground comix.

What is it?

Underground comix gained popularity during the mid 60s through the late 70s—the “x” alludes to its X-rated themes and content. Underground comix were “created wherever cartoonists, disillusioned with mainstream comics, wanted to do something less constrained in terms of content and form.”[2] Basically, these artists had the freedom to write what ever they wanted and depict any kind of images they wanted—no matter how lewd or offensive. Robert Crumb (“R. Crumb”) was an underground comix artist and AngelFood’s creator. His comics, Zap Comix became one of the most successful underground comix ever published![3,4]

So, who is AngelFood McSpade?

She’s an African female, but there’s something terribly wrong about her representation. According to her character’s backstory, she’s been “confined to the wilds of darkest Africa, because civilization would be threatened if she were allowed to do whatever she pleased!”[1]  This makes her sound like an animal doesn’t it? The word confinement in that quote’s context conjures images of wild beasts and monsters that need to be tamed in order to keep the world safe.

Why is this problematic? 

Black people are frequently portrayed as primal, hyper-masculine, and animalistic beings. AngelFood acts as a model for that stereotype. But, how would AngelFood pose a threat to the world when it was her people that were taken and later enslaved, when she was forced into submission and urged to serve White men? That doesn’t make sense because she’s the victim, not White men. They’re her abusers, her exploiters; they’re the threat. But, this comic tells us that Black women are supposed to be okay with being victimized. The issues with her character don’t only come from what she represents, but also from the way in which she was drawn.

Focusing on just AngelFood’s depiction, her physical attributes are incredibly exaggerated. Her breasts are enormous and her ass is abnormally huge and her lips look like they were pumped with helium. All of these exaggerations emphasize the body parts that are believed to be naturally larger on Black women. This over-exaggeration forces her character to become a sexual object that is used solely for a man’s viewing pleasure. She walks around topless with a flimsy skirt and not only does this poke fun at traditional African dress, but her lack of clothes imply that her body is easily accessible and that she can simply be used by men whenever and however they please.

angelfoodcropped1final
Courtesy of Zap Comix #2 by Robert Crumb

 

The interesting part about her portrayal is that her facial expressions show that she actually seems to be enjoying her objectification. This depiction highlights the “Jezebel” stereotype in which Black females are perceived to be hyper sexual nyphomaniacs. Therefore, they’re portrayed as toys who enjoy being objectified, assaulted, and abused. In addition to this, their abusers think they’re either asking for it or that they deserve it.  Furthermore, her expressions also suggests the notion that being lusted after by numerous men is something that a Black woman should be thankful for, especially if it’s White men that are doing the leering, peeping, lurking, poking, boinking, and prodding.

Also, in some frames, her face is completely excluded. In scenes like these, both her brain (meaning her intelligence) and her mouth (her voice) are stripped away from her. Then, in other scenes, her entire body is on full display and this is indicative of the fact that men have the power to silence women and can “have” them whenever they wish. Her mind and voice is constantly being controlled by the men that lust after her.

Angel_food_cake_with_strawberries_(4738859336)
Courtesy of F_A from Ostwestfalen, Germany – angel food cake with strawberries, CC BY 2.0,

 

As a side note, her name AngelFood McSpade erases her humaness because she is reduced to a soft, tasty dessert. Her last name; however, uses the word “spade” which is a derogatory term for Black people. This shows that her character is sweet enough to devour, lick, and invade, but she still is and always will be inferior because of the color of her skin.

I chose to write about her character because it aligns with how women are viewed in our culture; they are mere sex objects that are there to act as accessories to men in order to indicate their status, wealth, “game” or masculinity. To me, it seems that in our culture, the chase for the sexiest woman has nothing to do with the woman at all, but more to do with men attempting to boost their own egos and compete with each other to see who can win the best “prize.”

I want to hear your opinions so, let me know what you think of this comic. Sexist? Racist? Or is it acceptable because it is simply a product that portrayed society during its time of creation?

Leave a comment here or join the conversation on social media!

ComixBawse-5

Featured Photo: AngelFood McSpade Image Courtesy of Robert Alvarez via Fandom 

References

  1. “Angelfood McSpade.” Hey Kids Comics Wiki. Fandom. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.
  2. Bramlett, F., Cook, R. and Meskin, A. (2016) The Routledge companion to comics.  (Accessed: 22 December 2016).
  3. Estren, M. (2012) A history of underground comics: 20th anniversary edition.  (Accessed: 22 December 2016).
  4. Robert Crumb(2009) (Accessed: 22 December 2016).
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I'm an avid comic reader and I want to share my analyses of them with the world. I love cats and brownies and I've been told on many occasions that I'm weird-but-in-a-good-way!

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