Blacks To Be Comics Superheroes -- Five Publishers To Promote Positive Role Models

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Slide over Spiderman. Move your bulk, Hulk. Here come the ebony warriors.

Five black publishers of comic books plan to promote nonwhite superheroes to offer positive role models for blacks. They have formed ANIA, an association of black comic-book publishers, and will begin shipping comic books with black heroes to the nation's 5,000 comics stores in February.

Ebony Warrior; Purge; The Original Man; Heru: Son of Ausar; and Zwanna: Son of Zulu will join several black characters already in comics produced by market leaders Marvel and DC Comics.

But the new black heroes will offer what ANIA founder and President Eric Griffin said is a more "Afro-centric" perspective.

ANIA is a Swahili word meaning to protect and defend. "We feel we are protecting our views and our way of life," Griffin said.

Comic Books by ANIA's members have appeared in black and white over the past two years in black bookstores. Starting in February, they will appear in full color under one ANIA imprint and be distributed nationwide, Griffin said.

ANIA, based in Sunnyvale, claims that existing heroes don't always offer positive role models for black youngsters.

"Most of them are hoodlums and thugs without any direction," said Griffin, a 24-year-old former engineer with Apple Computer.

ANIA's comics will focus on the African roots of American blacks as well as issues such as AIDS, racism, guns and violence. Their goal is to instill in their young readers a sense of hope and a belief in their self-worth.

Heru: Son of Ausar takes place in Kemet, an African name for ancient Egypt. Ebony Warrior battles bad guys but is educated, interested in history and reads.