Filmmaker Jonathan Gayles presents convocation on Black masculinity in comic books

February 10, 2017

Educator and documentary filmmaker Jonathan Gayles will present the Carleton convocation on Friday, Feb. 17 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Gayles, a professor of African-American Studies at Georgia State University, will share insights and research he compiled while producing his 2012 documentary, "White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books."

Carleton convocations are free and open to the public. They are also recorded and archived for online viewing at

As a child Gayles had a deep affinity for comic books and the fantastical escape they provided. However, he was often confused and frustrated by the lack of African-American superheroes. He held a deep reverence for the few African-American superheroes he did find, solely because they shared his skin color. It was only as an adult that Gayles began to critically engage with the heroes of his childhood and analyze their place in the cultural understanding of Black masculinity.

In 2009, while preparing an academic paper on the subject of Black masculinity in comic books, Gayles was introduced to the scholarly conversation around the subject. He found a community of artists and scholars both critiquing and creating content to further dialogue surrounding the issue. Later that fall, Gayles picked up a camera and began working on a documentary film.

The film was an official selection at the 2011 National Black Arts Festival, a finalist at the 2011 Pan African Film Festival, and winner of Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Urban Media Makers Film Festival. More about “White Scripts and Black Supermen,” including a trailer, can be found at

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Convocations Committee. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First and College Streets in Northfield.