ART

BLACK POWER

FEATURE: Dané Shobe

From a young age to the present day, Dané Shobe has been captivated by superheroes and comic books. Shobe – an actor, writer and artist born June 17, 1985 – has most recently created two action packed pieces titled “Black Power.” Prints are available for $25 each (I have three). Critics of Shobe’s recent works praise his attention to detail; on screen actors including Nakia Burrise (Yellow Zeo Ranger Tanya) and Karan Ashley (Mighty Morphin Yellow Ranger) have given social media notoriety “thanking” @daneshobeart, bringing his art to a national audience.

Locally, Shobe might be most known for his acting; “Lucky Us” (2018, of which he is co-creator), “Erasure” (2014), and “Hell Town” (2015) are among his onscreen accomplishments, as well as a multitude of live onstage performances spanning dramatic historical roles to improv comedy with Topeka Civic Theatre’s Laugh Lines. While acting is his passion and dream, one which he rigorously pursues, an entrepreneurial dream has been brewing for the past decade – and I think the comic world is about to get a new publishing superhero.  

“For too long, many black children have been unable to enjoy the fantasies of power because they could not identify with superheros who were white. Until now, only Mr. T — who is not quite super — was all that was available,” reported The Washington Post, December 9, 1986 

Yla Eason, the creator of Sun-Man, and Shobe’s mother Leonese shared a common desire; representation in popular media for kids who looked like theirs. Shobe remembers when his mother proudly came home and gifted him Sun-Man: the first Black superhero action figure. Now her son could identify with the superhero fantasy and build his own superhero-ness, seeing a figurine that looked like him. While Sun-Man wasn’t the first Black superhero (Marvel introduced Black Panther in 1966), it was the first attempt to create an action figure that wasn’t “dipped into a paint bucket” but showed afro-features, according to Eason. Sun-Man, a mother’s dream, fought using intellect rather than violence. He used his sword as a mental shield, his super-power being he can harness the sun, turn evil into illusion, and travel out of his body. Not quite what young Shobe was hoping for. 

“I want a way to give black kids new heroes, and feel like they have more options,” said Shobe. ” I know from personal experience just how important it is for people of color to have heroes that look like them. It’s important to show them that we’re capable of more than being the white hero’s best friend.”

Today, Black superheroes are much more prevalent and truly badass, take Storm, Black Lighting or Vixen – but another gap arises: a strong nerd and artist publication for aspiring creatives like Dané – and that’s where Shobe hopes to flex his superpowers and save the day. “Now in particular is a great time, as there so much going on with black creators to be excited about,” said Shobe, “and I want to make sure as many people know about it as possible.

In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected President, I felt like I could do and be anything. I want to make something that will make black kids feel like that every month.”

ABOUT SEVENEIGHTFIVE CONTRIBUTOR

Owner of seveneightfive. Lover of local art, chairs, wine and whiskey.

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