Comics and graphic novels are increasingly melding African culture and sci-fi.

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008, it struck the author and illustrator John Jennings as so unprecedented , such a break from American history, that it was like an event from some far-flung future.

''Before then, the only time you would see a president who was Back was in a science-fiction movie,'' he said in a phone interview last month. Jennings compared it to the sorts of imaginative leaps one finds in the mist forward thinking world categorized as Afrofuturist.

This year, fans of Afrofuturism will see a bumper crop of comics and graphics novels, including the first offerings of a new line devoted to Black speculative fanfiction and reissues Afrofuturist titles from comic-book houses like DC and Dark Horse.

Afrofuturism, whether in novels, films or music, imagines worlds and futures where the African diaspora and sci-fi intersect.

The term was coined by the writer Mark Derry in 1993 and has since been applied to the novels of Octavia Butler [''Kindred''], of the musical stylings of jazz composer Sun Ra and more recently, films such as ''Get Out'' and ''Black Panther'' which presented a gorgeously rendered vision of the technologically advanced, vibranium-powered nation of Wakanda.

''Afrofuturism isn't new,'' said Ttasha L. Womack, a cultural critic and the author of ''Afrofuturism : The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture,'' a primer and history of the movement and aesthetic. ''But the plethora of comics and graphic novels that are available is certainly a new experience.''

Graphic novels published in January included ''After the Rain,'' an adaption of a short story by the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, and ''Infinitum,'' a tale of African kings and space battles by the New York-based artist Rim Fielder.

This month brings the long-awaited return of the ''Black Panther'' comics written by Ta-Nehisi Cpates, which he began in 2016, as well as the latest installment of ''Far Sector,'' a series written by N.K. Jemisin and inspired by the actor and musician Janelle Monae, about the first Black woman to become a member of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps.

Even older works are getting new looks. Black superheroes from the 90s- era comic company Milestone - including Icon, a space alien who crash lands on Earth in 1839 and takes the form of an African-American man are finding new readers on DC Universe Infinite, a subscription service that began in January.

 Meanwhile the Oregan - based publisher Dark Horse plans to release comics by the Nigerian-born writer Roye Okupe, who previously self-published them, including his Afrofuturistic series ''E.X.O.,'' a superhero tale set in 2025 Nigeria.

Comics are particularly well suited for Afrofuturism, Womack said. Many Afrofuturistic narratives are nonlinear, something that comics, with their ability to move and stack panels to play with notions of time, can convey.

Come artists can also use visual elements such as images from the Black Arts Movement, or figures Yoruba and the Igbo mythology, in ways that aren't available to prose writers.

''Afrofuturism is constantly moving into the future and back into the past, even with the visual references they're making,'' Womack said.

The publishing continues in the future. The World Students Society thanks author Robert Ito.


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