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Podcast Episode 161: Black Comix And ‘Scary Black Folks’

Professor John Jennings talks about a new collective and EthnoGothic horror

Photo by Beth Accomando

Professor John Jennings at his Scary Black Folks panel at last year's Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in Orange County. Sept. 2, 2018

Episode 161: Black Comix And Scary Black Folks

For Black History Month Cinema Junkie speaks with Keithan Jones, Black Comix Day organizer, about comic book movies and with Professor John Jennings about his Scary Black Folks collective and EthnoGothic horror films.

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Transcript

It’s black history month and Cinema Junkie is devoting this podcast to looking at black comics and black horror.

I have to confess I was a little concerned about calling the episode "scary black folks" in case people interpreted that the wrong way, but the title comes from Professor and comic book artist John Jennings who created a collective called Scary Black Folks.

"There is something inherently scary about how blackness has been constructed," Jennings said. "So we do kind of just put it out there."

And put it out there in a provocative way. The name assumes additional meaning now as black filmmakers like Jordan Peele (with films such as "Get Out" and the upcoming "Us") have smartly taken control of those images of race and reconstructed them in new terms of their own making to give fresh meaning to the notion of Scary Black Folks.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to recommend the Shudder original documentary "Horror Noire" that explores black horror on film as something to seek out after listening to this podcast. Or check out the book of the same name by Robin R. Means Colman that inspired the doc.

To start the podcast I talk with black comics creator Keithan Jones of Kid Comics. For the second year in a row he is organizing Black Comix Day in San Diego. The event takes place Feb. 16 and focuses on black comic book artists and creators, and black images in comics.

Last year the show came just as "Black Panther" was about to score big at the box office. This year Black Comix Day arrives as "Black Panther" just scored a notable first as the first comic book movie to garner an Oscar nomination for best picture. Plus "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" got a surprising but well-deserved nomination for best-animated film.

This past year was a strong year for African Americans both behind the camera and on screen with films such as "If Beale Street Could Talk," "Sorry to Bother You," and "Blindspotting" garnering acclaim along with the box office hit of "Black Panther."

One of the panelists from Black Comix Day last year was UC Riverside professor of media and cultural studies John Jennings. I had the pleasure of listening to his insights at his Scary Black Folks panel at Horrible Imaginings Film Festival last September. I was so impressed with his presentation that I invited him on the podcast for Black History Month.

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