Monday, July 13, 2009

John Smith: A Respectable Black Sidekick

Balbo, the Boy Magician was a comic book character that first appeared back in 1942. He had no super powers whatsoever but was an accomplished stage magician that used skilled slight of hand to perform his feats. The stories took place in a world without real magic and were skeptical towards anyone seeming to display it. Balbo and his friends would frequently observe seeming impossible feats that, after investigation, proved to be merely some sort of stage illusion.

What really made this comic noteworthy for me was his Black adult sidekick John Smith. Contrary to most depictions of Black characters of that time, John was well dressed, articulate, and intelligent. He was always calm, cool, and thoughtful and was of great help to Balbo. He was no stereotype.

The adventures of Balbo, the Boy Magician did not deal with any political issues. Topics of discrimination and Civil Rights never came up in the comic. The fact that John Smith was Black was simply that. It does go to show that even back in the 1940's it was possible to portray a Black man positively in comics. It's too bad most examples of that era, with few exceptions, showed Black men as fools.
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3 comments:

Will Emmons said...

This is phenomenal. How'd you find out about this?

wallruss said...

I just queried my usual sources and did a lot of Internet research.

Will Emmons said...

The Internet is full of so much love.