Depending on who you talk to, afrofuturism has either arrived full-force in the last few years, or is experiencing something of a second wave.

Early progenitors include space-jazz guru Sun Ra, ’70s soul-hippies Funkadelic, ’80s graffiti visionary Rammellzee, and electro-funk pioneers the Jonzun Crew. In the ’90s, culture critic Mark Dery put an umbrella over these seemingly disparate artists and “afrofuturism” was officially born. It has since widened to include film, sci-fi literature, and comic books, the latter of which Mshindo Kuumba creates.

To be sure, the Brooklyn-based Kuumba has been employed as a freelancer by the majors in the industry: DC and Marvel Comics. His best-known work, however, remains his African-American superhero comics, like Jaycen Wise, Ebony Warrior, and Dynasty of the Magi, which Kuumba has developed and nurtured for over a decade now.

Stylistically, he takes as much from artists like Mati Klarwein as from Jack Kirby and other elder statesmen of the comic world. Kuumba’s angular, side-facing figures also owe a debt to the Rammellzee, whose ’80s figural works often mixed Egyptian hieroglyphic styles with ’20s art deco and ’70s black animated TV.

Kuumba makes his much more action-oriented, rendered with an eye to fantasy-realism, though his architectures—often relegated to the background—owe a serious debt to actual Italian futurists like Antonio Sant’Elia. As such, the robust musculature and precise chiaroscuro of the figures’ drapery serve to heighten Kuumba’s synthesis of afrocentric, art-historical, and space-themed content.

In the end, however, they are much more than mere black versions of previous cultural signifiers. That is the underlying condescension of too many critics towards the genre and artists like Kuumba. Sure, afrofuturism in music has crossed-over many times already, the latest being Janelle Monae‘s trio of Metropolis-based LPs. Comics, though, have been less inclusive. It’s a shame. Not so much for Kuumba as for those who call themselves true fans. Part of the puzzle is missing. (Brian Chidester)

urban_sprawl_warrior__niemah_by_mshindo9-d3ee3in

apadamx ecbacc flier art color

2bdcf9bdfb2286fd2126c6b5e57b1f8e-d5ix9ph

859b64a74e2b8f617091863d8650aa59-d4m0sa6