The Roma should be grateful to US comics: they have been portrayed in them with greater respect and charm than in European comic strips. Even Batman, the greatest superhero of all, has Romani heritage in his current embodiment. This is the story of a fascinating cultural relationship.
The art of the comic strip was decisively redefined in the early 1960s which heralded what is known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, preceded by the Golden Age from the 1930s to the 1950s during which the foundations of superhero comics were laid. The Silver Age would extend into the 1970s and involved a lot of changes in the hero genre. During it science fiction was introduced into the world of these characters along with more localised and controversial approaches that made them more realistic.
It was at this time that the “troubled superhero” first appeared. Characters who were persecuted instead of being praised, heroes who cannot make ends meet, who lose loved ones, who have conflicts. Previously Superman and Batman had been the big heroes, both created by the publishing house DC Comics, new gods for an America which had no ancestral mythology. But now the power of rival Marvel Comics brought characters like Spiderman, the Fantastic 4, the X-Men and other humans with skills which were sometimes more a curse than a blessing. We should thus not be surprised that the complicated characters of this style should include original characters of Romani origin. They certainly fitted in with two stereotypes: firstly Roma as rebels, sorcerers and twinned with legend are idealised. Then secondly there is the marginal and clumsy stereotype, but this one is surprisingly softer and less negative than in European comics which were much more prejudiced against and brutal towards Roma. In fact, there is a tendency to dignify the Roma, which fills some crucial characters.