amandla stenberg is working on a comic celebrating badass black girls
"We need more badass girls!" says the IRL super heroine.
Last year, Marvel introduced its first-ever Muslim character to headline a comic book: a Pakastani-American teenager named Kamala Khan, better known by her shape-shifting alter-ego, Ms. Marvel. Although the series won the publisher widespread acclaim, young women of color are still massively underrepresented in the comic book world, and as Zoë Kravitz has recently pointed out, these narratives are largely one-dimensional in other pop cultural spheres. Enter 16-year-old actress and IRL super heroine Amandla Stenberg's newest project.
Stenberg has teamed up with Stranger Comics -- a publisher that focuses on creating diverse characters with storylines often underrepresented in the comic world -- for a new series, NIOBE: She Is Life. The comic follows a young female half-elf, half-human warrior along her journey of super-human self discovery.
"I was drawn to give voice to Niobe and co-write her story because her journey is my journey. I connect to her mixed racial background and quest to discover her innate powers and strengths, to learn who she truly is," Stenberg said in a statement for the Huffington Post. "There's never been a character quite like her, one who shatters the traditional ideal of what a hero is. We need more badass girls!" the actress added.
Stranger CEO Sebastian A. Jones and illustrator Ashley A. Woods tapped Stenberg to help Niobe's story authentically: "I may be mixed, but I am not a young, black, teenaged woman, so it would have been idiotic and morally insensitive of me to not team up with someone who could really engage with Niobe's soul and state of being," Jones told the Huffington Post.
The partnership wisely leverages Stenberg's ability to speak to her peers and the world at large. Before confronting Kylie Jenner about her culturally appropriative cornrows, Stenberg created Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows: a Crash Discourse on Black Culture, an eloquent and informative video tutorial for a class history project that went viral in April.
"Niobe is Amandla… and I am honored to see them grow together into someone quite special," said illustrator Woods, a black woman herself. "Someone I can follow. A hero for our time."
NIOBE is expected to be released on November 4. For now, here are five other coming of age graphic novels you need to read.
Text Emily Manning