Performance artist d’bi Young is the blueprint for a green ‘supah shero’
02 April 13 by Charlie Burton
black supah shero photo by Wade Hudson
When the Jamaican-born dub poet d’bi Young was growing up in the 80s, she read US comic books obsessively — X-Men, Batman, Archie — and dreamt of being a superhero. In real life, though, she just didn’t feel like one.
“I inhaled all the stories about what my place was as a dark-skinned, diasporic African woman,” the 34-year-old remembers. “By the time I moved from Jamaica to Toronto I was deeply ashamed of how I looked.” Then, while at McGill University in Montreal, she resolved to embrace her roots, putting on dub performances. Her audiences reacted intensely, but she still felt that she hadn’t yet become a superhero.
That all changed in March, when Young appeared in a comic book published by a Ugandan collective called Klan Of The Kings. Its title, Shemurenga, refers to the Shona word for “revolutionary struggle”. Drawn as a Grace Jones reinvention, Young’s “supah shero” guards Earth from environmental disasters by using special powers.
“As well as hard copies, we will make it into an interactive app so the magic of the comic can come alive,” says Young. “Apps are about global accessibility and have the potential to make sharing information about, say, how severe climate change is, fun and exciting.” Now that is a super power.
Edited by Kadhim Shubber