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Comics and the U.S. South$
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Brannon Costello and Qiana J. Whitted

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030185

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030185.001.0001

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date: 15 December 2017

Crooked Appalachia

Crooked Appalachia

The Laughter of the Melungeon Witches in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: The Crooked Man

Chapter:
(p.214) Crooked Appalachia
Source:
Comics and the U.S. South
Author(s):

Joseph Michael Sommers

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617030185.003.0009

The Melungeons are a group of miscegenated people shrouded in mystery and mythology. Represented by Mike Mignola in his 2008 comic book mini-series Hellboy: The Crooked Man, they have been described by Wayne Winkler as a group comprised of a complicated and contested constellation of races and ethnicities, including whites, African Americans, and local indigenous tribes. This chapter examines how Mignola demystifies Appalachian witchcraft lore in Hellboy through the subversions of Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of a “laughing truth” that leads to generic parody laughter with respect to visual narratives or graphic novels. It looks at claims that Mignola was guilty of racial stereotyping or egregious misrepresentation of a historical Melungeon people, and argues that Hellboy actually undermines and refutes these stereotypes by situating them in a complex narrative of history, myth, and memory as well as giving a voice to a people who have long been neglected in official histories.

Keywords:   comic book, Melungeons, mythology, Mike Mignola, Hellboy, witchcraft, Mikhail Bakhtin, laughing truth, graphic novels, racial stereotyping

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