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Image: 41 x 24.6 cm (16 1/8 x 9 11/16 in.); Sheet: 43 x 29.1 cm (16 15/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
Gift of Joan Tomkins and William Busta 2020.435.3
Kerry James Marshall’s childhood fascination with Marvel Comics and specifically the Black Panther led him to create this graphic novelette featuring a Black superhero set within his native South Side Chicago.
Inspired by his childhood fascination with Marvel Comics, the artist Kerry James Marshall set out to create a modern-day, black superhero. The story of Rythm Mastr centers around the eponymous super-hero character and his protégé Farrell and is set within the context of the controversial razing of public housing projects in the South Side of Chicago (near Marshall’s home) and increased violence in the city. The two main characters have the power to bring Egyptian and African statues to life at the museum and imbue them with superpowers akin to the seven gods of the Yoruba pantheon. The characters debate intellectual history, philosophy, and politics in Black vernacular English—offering up an alternative reality for Marshall’s South Side Chicago neighborhood that combines past, present, and future.
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