Angelfood McSpade, from Zap Comix #2 (July 1968). Illustrated by Robert Crumb.
|Publisher||Apex Novelties, Print Mint, Kitchen Sink Press|
|First appearance||East Village Other vol. 3, #2 (December 1-15, 1967)|
|First comic appearance||Zap Comix #2 (July 1968)|
|Created by||Robert Crumb|
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Partnerships||Snoid, Mr. Natural|
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 East Village Other in 1967, making her comics debut in the second issue of Zap Comix (June 1968).
Angelfood McSpade is a satirical portrayal of a stereotypical black African woman. She is depicted as a large, bare-breasted tribeswoman, dressed in nothing but a skirt made out of palm tree leaves. 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 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.
Angelfood is depicted as a nymphomaniac and open to sexual intercourse. In many of her stories she is accompanied by Snoid, another of Crumb's characters who is portrayed as "a short-statured asshole" known for "his fetishes, sex cravings, and disdain for materialism." Policemen prevent other sexually aroused men from meeting Angelfood. 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.
She is very naïve and easily abused or even raped by the horny men who surround her, though, being a nymphomaniac, she is not 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. They flee from the tribe to the U.S., 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. In later comics her appearances became less frequent, and finally after 1971 Crumb stopped using the character in his comics altogether.
Angelfood McSpade is one of Crumb's most notorious targets for accusations of sexism and racism. 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.
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.
List of appearances (selected)
- "The Old Pooperoo Pauses to Ponder," East Village Other vol. 3, #2 (December 1-15, 1967) — with Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont
- "Angelfood McSpade: She's Sock-a-Delic — She's All Heart," Zap Comix #2 (July 1968)
- "All Asshole Comics," Chicago Seed vol. 3, #1 (Seed Publishing, July 1968) — with Snoid
- Untitled ("There she is, fellows! Ah! She'll be so grateful to us!"), East Village Other (October 18, 1968)
- "Hey Boparee Bop," R. Crumb's Head Comix (Viking Press, Nov. 1968) — with Mr. Natural and Snoid
- "Freak Out Funnies" (or "I'm getting tired of running around this ol' city!"), Zap Comix #0 (Apex Novelties, 1968) — with Snoid
- "Ups and Downs," Yellow Dog vol. 2, #2 [issue #13/14] (Print Mint, July 1969) — with Chuck and Bob
- "Angelfood McSpade," Playboy vol. 17, #7 (July 1970) — with Mr. Natural and Hugh Hefner
- "Angelfood McDevilsfood in Backwater Blues," Home Grown Funnies #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, Jan. 1971) — with Snoid
- Dowd; Hignite 2006.
- Crumb; Holm 2004.
- Crowley 1995.
- "Spade". American Heritage Dictionary. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
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- Heller 2004.
- Crumb, R. "Ups and Downs," Yellow Dog vol. 2, #2 [issue #13/14] (Print Mint, July 1969).
- "Angelfood McSpade," Playboy vol. 17, #7 (July 1970).
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