Apr 16, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 781: Midnite #1, November 1986

https://www.comics.org/issue/307338/

Today's comic comes from a publisher that I had at one point written off as simply another of the independents that sprung up in the early 80s and produced pretty bad comics. There were a lot of them. But as I read more of Blackthorne's output from this era, I'm beginning to see that they occupied a pretty important place in the comics culture of the time, and produced some really excellent comics.

Today's piece is by Milton Knight, who was, I had no idea, also involved in my favourite run of Mighty Mouse, the Marvel series of the 90s, doing some of their covers and "Bat-bat" back-up features. Today's comic is really great. A comic from an indie publisher of the 80s that hearkens back to the Golden Age of Betty Boop and the Fleischer Superman. What's great though is the fact that Knight, as an African-American creator, is taking this traditionally quite racist era and redefining it. There's definitely an element of Black culture coming through this comic, one that feels like it's taking place some time during the Harlem Renaissance. This could be because I've just finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's Spunk, and the same kind of slang Hurston deploys in her writing is spouting from the mouths of many of these cartoon characters in Knight's comic. Not only is it funny, but it's sending a very clear message that the Golden Age aesthetic is being cleaned up and made welcoming to all, rather than to the casual racism of the Barks duck comics, or the very early superhero pieces.

As I say, Blackthorne is starting to really stand out to me, as are many of the indie publishers of the era, mostly thanks to the dollar bin boxes I've picked up in the last little while. But Midnite is definitely a title I'm going to track down more of, as well as more if Mr. Knight's work. It's quirky and cute, but has an edge you wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of.

Onward!

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