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Whatever Happened to Dyno-Woman

The Alternative History of an Afrofuturist Icon

Culver Center of the Arts
February 10, 2024 to August 18, 2024

Introduction

Dyno-Woman was introduced in television series Good Times (1974-1979) by Jimmie Walker’s James “J.J.” Evans character. Creating the character gave “J.J.” enough means to move out of the notorious Cabrini Green housing project in the series finale “End of The Rainbow”. Black Kirby use this fantastic premise to invent a superhero narrative for Dyno-Woman throughout the various eras of mainstream comics. The potential in the idea of Dyno-Woman resonates with the reality of African-Americans overcoming the limitation assigned to Black spaces in urban America. Whatever Happened to Dyno-Woman is a “design fiction” that captures the aspiration and resilience exhibited by Black families that navigate the negative effects of ghettoization in public housing.

Character Origin

Jerri Jameson was an investigative reporter for the Chicago-based Black newspaper The Chicago Guardian. She finds a conspiracy by an industrial tech company called ARGO. It turned out that they had been dumping irradiated chemicals on the Southside of Chicago, where most of the population are African American. This story of environmental racism inspires her to go to the factory to get a better look. She is discovered by guards and tries to escape. She ends up accidentally stumbling into an illegal energy-based experiment and is bombarded with Dyno-Rays. She survives but now finds that she has super strength, flight, physical resiliency, concussive energy manipulation and the ability to explode and reassemble herself. Now she is the funky fashionista, fighting for the people of Chicago as the Incredible Dyno-Woman!

Context & Thematics

Variants & Character Studies

Dyno-Woman's Allies

Dyno-Woman's Villains

Events & Programs

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Winter 2024 Reception

February 10, 2023 | 3:00–6:00 pm

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Space is the Place

February 16th

Exhibition Credits

Whatever Happened to Dyno-Woman marks the fifth collaboration between UCR ARTS and Black Kirby. Previous projects include Black Kirby X: Ten Years of Remix and Revolution, Ebon: Fear of a Black Planet, Reflection Eternal: The Candyman Illustrated Syllabus, and Uncaged: Hero for Higher.

BLACK KIRBY is a shared pseudonym that is Stacey Robinson (Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Illustration, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign) and John Jennings (Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside). Black Kirby functions as a rhetorical tool by sampling and remixing comic legend Jack Kirby’s bold forms and energetic ideas combined with themes centered around Afrofuturism, social justice, representation, magical realism, and using the culture of Hip Hop as a methodology for creating visual communication. It also utilizes the notion of an alter-ego as a symbolic allegory for DuBoisian “double- consciousness” theory. In a sense, Black Kirby uses the comics medium as a conceptual crossroads to examine identity as a socialized concept through bricolage, pastiche, oppositional juxtapositions, and deconstruction. It is the artists’ hope to destabilize various ideas of “Blackness” to promote a broader spectrum of Black subjectivity.

Whatever Happened to Dyno-Woman is organized by Black Kirby and UCR ARTS. UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and the City of Riverside provide support for UCR ARTS programs. This exhibition is co-sponsored by the Piranha Jones Memorial Foundation. 

Other artists that contributed to the exhibition
Kris Mosby, Ytasha Womack, Kenny Leon Andino, Jarmel Williams, Jamal Williams, Alexandria Batchelor, Bill Campbell, David Brame, Cianna Greaves, Stanford Carpenter, Alex Bradley, Angélique Roché, David Brame

All images courtesy of the artists.

The Official Dyno-Woman Playlist