Norman Rockwell Museum looks forward to welcoming teachers to our next educators symposium, to be held at the Museum this Saturday, January 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Presented in conjunction with our new exhibition, Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross, the day-long symposium will explore curriculum-based connections to comics and creative applications for the classroom (PDPs are available). Pre-registeration is required by contacting the Museum at 413. 931.2221, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more by downloading the event PDF here.
One of the featured speakers at the Symposium will be Dr. William H. Foster III, of Naugatuck Valley Community College, who will explore the changing image of African-Americans in comics. When he was growing up in urban Philadelphia in the 1950s, Foster enjoyed reading and collecting comic books. But as an African-American, he seldom saw himself or his community reflected in their story lines.
A professor of English and communication at Naugatuck Valley Community College, Foster’s interest in the issue has inspired extensive research into the images of black Americans portrayed in comics, images that often provide a telling mirror for society and race relations throughout history.
“Blacks were deliberately left out of comics and American society for many years,” said Foster. “On those rare occasions when we were included, we were misrepresented as savages, cannibals, simpletons, and worse.”
The premise of his 2010 book, Dreaming of a Face Like Ours (Fine Tooth Press, L.L.C.) is to continue sharing the untold history of African Americans in comics. Foster adds that “my research will document this important history both fair and foul, for all time, while there are still traces of it left.”
Foster, a Middletown, Connecticut resident, is a long-time comic book collector and researcher. He has appeared on CNN and National Public Radio as a commentator on the issue of blacks in comics. His exhibit Changing Image of Blacks in Comics has been displayed at a number of venues across the country, including Temple University’s Paley Library and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City.
Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly and PW Comics Weekly writes, “Professor Bill [Foster]‘s work collecting class comics featuring black characters as well as his traveling exhibition on the depictions of black Americans in comics books, is a singular and important American historical legacy. There simply isn’t anyone else that can equal his knowledge about African American cartooning or his passion for his subject.”