Angelfood McSpade

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Angelfood McSpade is a comic book character created and drawn by the 1960s counter culture and underground comix artist Robert Crumb. The character first appeared in the second issue of Zap Comix (June, 1968).

Characterisation[edit]

Angelfood McSpade is a satirical depiction of a stereotypical black African woman.[1][2] She is depicted as a large, bare breasted tribeswoman, dressed in nothing but a dress made out of palm tree leaves.[3] She is drawn with big lips, golden rings around her neck and in her ears, huge breasts, large round buttocks and speaks jive. Her name references the Angelfood cake and the racial slur, "spade".

According to the second issue of Zap Comix, she has been confined to "the wilds of darkest Africa", because "civilization would be threatened if she were allowed to do whatever she pleased!". It is not clear whether she was born in Africa or born in the U.S.A. and then sent to Africa. Her type of clothing suggests she is African, but her jive talk suggests she's from the U.S.A.[4]

Angelfood is depicted as a nymphomaniac and open to sexual intercourse.[5] Policemen prevent other sexually aroused men from meeting her. In a later story three men bring her to the United States and promise to "civilize" her. There she is told to lick toilets clean in order to gain success. While she does this, the men push her head inside the toilet and violate her.[1][6]

She is very naïve and easily abused or even raped by the horny men who surround her, though, being a nymphomaniac, she isn't bothered by this. Often, she is vulnerable to assault while being asleep or unconscious. Angelfood has a tendency to walk barebreasted, even in cities. However, no one seems to stop her from walking around half naked. In another story she saves two boys, Chuck and Bob, from being eaten by members of her own tribe.[1][7] They flee from the tribe to the US, where she spends a night with the boys and afterwards goes to the hairdresser. When she returns, she has bleached her skin, changed her hair and clothing and learned fluent English, much to the disappointment of the two boys. In another story she asked Hugh Hefner if she could become a Playboy Bunny, but when Hefner saw her in the outfit he couldn't resist laughing. This made her so angry that she attacked him. In the last panel she and Mr. Natural (who accompanied her) are kicked out of Hefner's office.

The character was featured regularly during Crumb's late 1960s and early 1970s output.[2] In later comics her appearances became less frequent, and finally Crumb stopped using the character in his comics altogether.

Controversy[edit]

Angelfood McSpade is one of Crumb's most notorious targets for accusations of sexism and racism.[8] As an Afro-American naïve female character who is always half naked and often abused as well as being used as a sex object by men, these accusations were inevitable. Crumb has responded that he did not invent racist caricatures like Angelfood, but that they used to be part of the American culture in which he was raised.[2][9]

He saw it as criticism of the racist stereotype itself and assumed that the young liberal hippie/intellectual audience who read his work were not racists, and that they would understand his intentions for the character.[2][10] Crumb is a fan of early 20th-century art, where racial caricatures and hypersexed natives were commonly featured in American comics, cartoons and films from the 1920s–30s.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Dowd; Hignite 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d Crumb; Holm 2004.
  3. ^ Crowley 1995.
  4. ^ Estren 1993.
  5. ^ Harvey 1996.
  6. ^ Jahraus; Neuhaus 2003.
  7. ^ Heller 2004.
  8. ^ Sorensen 2005.
  9. ^ Huxley 2001.
  10. ^ Lopes 2009.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]