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Illustrator Reimagines Cartoon Characters as Fierce Black Girls

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In an interview with i-D, black cartoon artist Markus Prime reimagines some of our favorite cartoons with afros and curves, in varying shades of brown, and dripping buckets of sass. In the interview, Prime addresses the inequality within the cartooning community. The artist believes the superhero industry still have work to do to improve diversity in comic books and movies. He also talks about working with 16-year-old Hunger Games actress and activist Amandla Steinberg. 

On working with Amandla Steinberg and her comic, "Niobe: She is Life"

"It's been awesome. Amandla is a really amazing girl, wise beyond her years. Lots of people see her as this profound black power, but they forget she's a 16-year-old girl, too. She brought it up and asked if I could be a part of it, and then to learn more about it and find out that a woman of color was doing all the illustrations, I had to be a part of it. Ashley Woods really taking the reigns on a project like this and still doing stuff for Marvel is amazing. Both of them were so inspiring to me. To see all these black girls at Comic Con excited about something that was for them was really, really cool."

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On marginalization within the cartoon community

"I've always known, but I didn't realize how big of an issue it is until I got older. Any child of color can tell when there's one type of person, but growing up, I started to understand the importance of it. I think it began to bother me when I was in high school, and really bothered me when I came into the field and experienced it firsthand -- to be in the industry and see people's issues with it."

 

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On Marvel's efforts to increase diversity

"What Marvel is doing is admirable and cool, but there still aren't black people in control. They're only gonna give up so much. I've gotten lots of comments on my book and illustrations where people have asked why I'm remaking white characters and not creating original ones. I definitely believe in that and it's the plan, but what I'm doing with this project is showing them what it could have been, to get the conversation started. Also, it's showing other people of color that if you're the one behind it, it'll reflect you better. The industry needs to hire more artists of color, it's as simple as that. If they were allowing us to be in the industry illustrating or directing some of these movies, they'll have whole other narratives because a black person is behind them. My book is trying to add to that resurgence of black creators and writers."

Markus Prime's new book, B.R.U.H: Black Renditions of Universal Heroes is available here. Follow him on Instagram @markusprimelives

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