Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit [Cover]
Strange Fruit[Page 10 (bottommostpanel)]
Strange Fruit [Pages 21 and 22]
Strange Fruit[Page 25 (full page)]
Strange Fruit[Page 33 (bottommost panel)]
Strange Fruit[Page 65 (full page)]

Dublin Core


Strange Fruit


Out of all of the items in this exhibit, Strange Fruit has the most body diversity. The main black male humans of the comic are Sonny and Mr. McCoy. As seen in Fig. 4, Sonny is lean but with some muscle definition, as befitting a physical laborer on a plantation farm. His hair is free and goes in many directions and his beard is full. His clothes are too large for him, as seen from the blue shirt spilling over from his pants and how he pulls at his trousers and excess fabric stretches across his leg. Mr. McCoy, the Northern engineer sent to Chatterlee from D.C. to help save the town, is noticeably different from Sonny. Fig. 6 shows him to be shorter, rounder in body, with neck fat. He wears glasses, a visual shorthand signifying his higher intelligence to that of the other recurring characters who lack glasses and the knowledge to save the town from the flood. Furthermore, his pencil moustache and formal attire of a bow-tie, white shirt, plaid brown suit, and hat, put him in stark contrast to Sonny and most of the residents of poor Chatterlee.

In comics, body diversity speaks to psychological diversity. Sonny is the rough-and-tough rebelling sharecropper with dreams of fighting Jim Crow and white people, and McCoy is the Northern, educated black man among uneducated, bigoted Southerners, offer a variety of possibilities for who a can be a Black man. Most of the items in this exhibit present a black male for all black males. Strange Fruit gives the reader two black men to show a multitude of black male expressions. Two black men do this -- and only two black men.

The central black male figure of this comic -- its main character and the strange fruit of the title -- is not a black male. He is an alien who reads as a black male to the Jim Crow characters and the comic reader. And the only way the alien can be read as Black is from his physical appearance. The character never learns a human language -- only the physics and mathematical equations necessary for him to save Chatterlee (see Fig. 5 and Fig. 6). We know not what he calls himself or what he wants beside a few scattered flashbacks that equate the guns of Chatterlee to space guns. We know not who he is or how he sees himself. Only how others see him (see Green Lantern: Mosaic). And what they see is a black body of colossal proportions. His body is always made to appear large to other characters and sometimes the dimensions of the comic, as seen in Fig. 3 when the alien’s body surpasses the confines of the panels and gutters. The alien takes up space, whether dominating a skyline with his muscled torso and veiny arms as in Fig. 4 or with his long legs reaching the edge of the bound page as in Fig. 5.

The alien is a black body. That is its purpose; Jones has said that “The appearance of The Colossus [sic.] acts as [sic.] a mirror on their [the other characters’] motives” (qtd. in Dietsch). The authorial intent was to have the alien’s black body be a metaphor, yet Jones and Waid ended up relying on visual stereotypes that make the black body inhuman to the reader. One cannot relate to the alien because one does not know who or what the alien is. He is only his appearance -- an appearance that is stereotypical -- the unintelligible black muscular man. Sonny, as the Nat Turner uncouth with a heart of gold, and McCoy, the portly intellectual of diminutive stature and authority, are equally stereotypical. Even a non-character perpetuate visual stereotypes, as seen in the picaninny character in Fig. 2. Jones and Waid use various types of visual and narrative stereotypes of black bodies in a story about black oppression. The black bodies are diverse but the type of diversity is reductive rather than inclusive. Strange Fruit serves as a reminder that quantity and breadth of bodies does not equate to qualitative and deep representations of oppressed identities.


Writer: Jones, J.G. and Mark Waid.
Penciler and Inker: Jones, J.G.


  1. Dietsch, TJ. “EXCLUSIVE: Jones & Waid on Examining Racism, Cultural Legacy in 'Strange Fruit'.” CBR, Valnet Inc., 24 Feb. 2015,


Author (15 Dec 2017)


9 May 2017



18.3 x 1.5 x 28.4 cm


(Exterior) Ink, plastic, cardboard; (Interior) Ink on paper


Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios.