Saturday, April 29, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #53 (Powerman / Powerbolt)

Howdy fellow QUESTERS!!

     It's me, good ol' TEX, coming to fill you heads with that groovy comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

     So without any further ado, TEX'll spin the globe, and head to AFRICA just for you!!

   It's "Power Comics" #1, published in partnership by Eclipse and Acme Press in 1988. "Power Comics" #1 features the Nigerian superhero, Powerbolt, as he fights for truth and justice. He takes on dinosaurs, robots, evil land developers, giants, the Snake King, and his arch-nemesis, Dr. Crime, all to keep the citizens safe, and free from harm. No job is too big, no villain too tough for POWERBOLT!!

   But wait. There's more. You see, Powerbolt was originally called Powerman. Back in 1975, a Nigerian advertising agency called Pikin partnered with British art agency, Bardon Press Features, to create a black African superhero to help fight illiteracy in Nigeria. In the past, Africa's comics were populated by white superheroes and white protagonists. This new black hero's stories would be published bi-weekly and feature simple superhero stories of derring-do promoting public safety and morality. The result was a comics magazine entitled, "Powerman" with a protagonist of the same name, endowed with super-strength, the ability to fly...And make the ladies swoon. The series was helmed by writers Don Avenall and Norman Worker, along with two artists who would one day become legends: Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. The comic ran for two years, dropping from seeing print bi-weekly to monthly in 1977, then finally disappearing from print altogether - but not from the minds and hearts of comics fans. On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - "Powerman" was Brian Bolland's first professional comics work.

FUN FACT 2 - In 1988, Acme Press reprinted "Powerman" as a four-issue limited series called "Power Comics" in order to capitalize on the fame the both Gibbons and Bolland had realized since their obscure early days working on this series. Eclipse distributed it in the USA.

FUN FACT 3 - Powerman only has one weakness: snakebites. And no, I am not kidding. Why? Simple. Snakebites occur often in Nigeria. It was easily relatable to the populace.

FUN FACT 4 - Gibbons advocated for African writers and artist to work on the strip, but was told that due the fact that the comic book wasn't yet popular in Africa, there wasn't much talent available to make use of.

FUN FACT 5 - Gibbons and Bolland had to have a crash course in Nigerian culture because some of the visual cues that worked for the British and American eye had different meanings to the Nigerian eye. For example, where we might see a huge belly as a sign of laziness, greed or sloth, Gibbons and Bolland were told that in Nigeria, it signified wealth, power and success.

FUN FACT 6 - Powerman's name was changed to Powerbolt to avoid confusion with the American Marvel superhero, Luke Cage.

FUN FACT 7 - The original series, "Powerman," had a  back-up story about a black lawman named, Jango.

FUN FACT 7: I own every issue of the four-issue limited series, but I have never been able to find "Powerman" #1 because it's distribution was limited to Nigeria only in 1975. I sure would love to have one. Here are the other issue. Enjoy the great covers by Bolland and Gibbons!

"Power Comics" Issue #2

"Power Comics" Issue #3


"Power Comics" Issue #4

    You won't find earth-shattering, complex stories in the pages of these books, but you will find pure, simple superhero fun, with a glimpse into the inner-workings of another culture and place. 100% Coolness. 


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