An afternoon of panels, performances, and guest speakers shined through the gloomy weather at the Earn Your Masters pop-up event during South By Southwest 2022. Put on by UnitedMasters and the Earn Your Leisure podcast and presented by Ally, the all-day event offered a unique experience combining education, music, and entertainment.
Featured on “The Equity In Black Super Heroes” panel, Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin and Denys Cowan shared their respective experiences for an audience eager to learn more about ownership, representation, innovation, and creativity. The conversation was moderated by Erica Hughes, Director of Multicultural Marketing at Ally.
“Superheroes are mythology now, right? It used to be about Zeus and Hercules and whatever. Now it’s about Superman and Spiderman and all that,” explained Hudlin. “We learn a lot from superhero movies and the entire family goes. They’re really important to the culture right now, and [Black people] historically have led American culture.”
He continued, “Whether it’s music, all these art forms, we are always leaders. So, if comic books and comic book readers [and] consumers are some of the most influential parts of popular culture, then we have to be in that.”
“I think for the importance of Black superheroes… for me growing up, there were no Black superheroes. It was Luke Cage, Power Man. He wasn’t even Power Man. He was Luke Cage, hero for hire. You had to pay him to help you,” Cowan added. “And you had Black Panther and you had Mal from the Teen Titans who didn’t even get a superhero name. And that was it. It was always in my mind that I wanted to see more, but it wasn’t until I got older and cultural events started happening, [Hudlin] and Spike Lee, and all these things started happening. I looked around [like], ‘Okay, there’s Black product here.'”
He continued, “Where is it in comic books? There is nothing in comic books. That was the need that we saw that we wanted to fulfill. The importance of it was that it didn’t exist. If something doesn’t exist and you want something to happen, what’s your choice of weapon? Mine was comic books and being an artist. What am I gonna do about this situation? I’m gonna create some Black comical characters.”
Together, the two acclaimed creators now lead Milestone Media. Throughout his career, Cowan has sold over 10 million copies of groundbreaking comic books, with credits including but not limited to: Batman: Lovers & Madmen, Blind Justice, Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child, The Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers, The Question, Hardware, and Static Shock.
Hudlin, an accomplished filmmaker in the modern Black film movement, has created, written, and directed beloved films such as House Party, Boomerang, and BeBe’s Kids. He was also the executive producer and writer of the Black Panther animated series and the executive producer of The Boondocks animated series, in addition to directing the pilot of Everybody Hates Chris and producing and directing several award-winning episodes of The Bernie Mac Show.