As I said last week, when I read comics I tend to look for certain things in copious amounts, those things would be fights and explosions. However once in awhile I enjoy stories that are thought provoking and provide social commentary. Enter (H)frocentric written by Juliana “Jewels” Smith and illustrated by John R. Mathis. The story of fraternal twins in college who share very different viewpoints on the world around them.
Enter Naima and Miles, the former is a woman whose blackness and feminist ideals are at the forefront of her identity and the latter is a young man who just wants to make music and not deal with the restrictions of racism in society. Accompanying them through their excursions at Ronald Reagan University are their friends Elizondo “El” Ramirez, a man proud of chicano heritage and constantly surprised by gentrification of his hometown, and Renee Aanjay Brown, whose life as of late sees her questioning her sexuality and gender identity.
They spend most of their time in or outside of class listening to Naima’s long rants about what’s wrong with the world, in its various parts. Either that or she and Miles are arguing about the black to non black ratio in the biracial blood. As these group of friends go about their daily routines, something happens to give one of the characters pause as we realize that for all her ranting about gentrification and white supremacy, Naima may not be wrong.
This story was interesting because the main character appears to be the least sympathetic of the entire group due to her combative nature and inability to admit her insecurities about her racial identity. However that may change in (I’m hoping,) in later issues. Miles’ character doesn’t garner much sympathy from me either, whereas his sister is almost too driven by her ideals, he doesn’t seem to posses any ideals beyond playing the drums. His grades also appear to reflect his nonchalant attitude about the world around (both micro and macrocosmic.) El’s character is interesting as his nationalistic pride creates a good foundation for the character, he seems to lack the ability to invoke change on his surroundings. Renee feels like a relatable character she’s best friends with a person who appears to have all the answers while she has nothing but questions, mainly about herself. This makes the story feel more like her’s than Naima’s and giving her the most flesh of any character in the first issue.
The art for this book is quirky at best and confusing at worst, at times I don’t know who is who as the character’s expression at times mirror one another. In a word this comic reminds me of the Boondocks without the extreme post slavery personalities in play. I also feel that this may read better in continuous webcomic format than in single issue or at least in a trade paperback form as the first issue ends a bit abruptly.
You can pick up this book at (H)afrocentric