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Talented artist reimagines iconic characters as black women

HIGHLIGHTING DIVERSITY: Artist Markus Prime

A TALENTED artist from Los Angeles has created an epic sketchbook, which challenges perceptions of popular superheroes and iconic cartoon characters by depicting them as black women.

Markus Prime rose to Instagram fame via his narrative-altering, gender and race-swapped creations that reimagine landmark pop culture characters ranging from Dragon Ball Z to The Powerpuff Girls, and now his sketchbook, dubbed B.R.U.H (Black Renditions of Universal Heroes), chronicling the new depictions, will be hitting bookshelves next month.

Talking to Paper magazine, Prime explained his inspiration for the project: "Basically BRUH stems from me looking at a lack of representation in the animation and comic book field.

"It was just a little idea. I had already been kind of known for drawing different clips of popular superheroes and cartoon characters, so I just thought that it would be a great contribution - especially for a time period where people are becoming more aware and trying to push the idea of representation - and I just thought it would be a great project to add to the conversation.

"I pretty much gathered a lot of my more popular images and created some new ones, and decided to make a book."

When asked why he focuses on black women, rather than men, he said: "It's always hard for me to answer that, because it wasn't deep for me, I didn't really think of it as a big deal at the time. I just noticed that it was a void. I could have easily drawn black men. I did when I was younger. But for some reason, I just felt compelled to draw black women.

He continued: "You know, we have a lot of ways that we present black women in media and how we treat black women. I'm trying to learn to re-approach how we represent black women. It wasn't necessarily 'I'm supposed to do this' or 'I have to,' but it just felt natural. I might change it soon, but that's what I've been doing right now."

The sketchbook will be available to purchase on April Fools (Apr 1).

Though he's known for his "remixed" creations, the artist is also working on original characters.

"You know, I didn't want to get too comfortable with creating a universe for characters that were remakes," he told Paper.

"I also believe very strongly in original characters. I have other projects that I'm working on with original characters that I'm about to put more passion and effort into."

He continued: "This project was simply to get the conversation out, to have more people say 'Oh, that would have been cool, I really like this interpretation of these characters' -- almost like a remix to a song, like 'I like this approach, or I like this version of it.'

"It's more just to make people think and change the way young children of colour think," Prime added.

All illustrations by Markus Prime

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