I call this painting “Mt. Rushmore.” I have brought my limited skill and unlimited zeal to an attempt to portray seven figures who have meant a lot to me at various stages of my life. You can click on it for a better view.
Please note that (a) the quotes are not above the appropriate people’s heads and (b) the absence of women is not intentional and is certainly not intended as any kind of comment. Your heroes are your heroes.
In the (not unlikely) event that I haven’t rendered them well enough to identify by sight, I have (a) put some tributes/hints below and (b) put the subjects’ names in a comment. So:
Tributes/hints, left to right:
1. Many, many people identified with the anxieties of the child protagonist of your comic strip.
2. Your innovation was that your costumed heroes, in addition to having fearsome powers, had confused inner lives and, as you once put it, feet of clay.
3. Your skills in the ring were nearly matched by your fearlessness, integrity, and bragging ability outside it — while the gleam in your eye let us know that the bragging wasn’t serious.
4. Your warm, hilarious comedy albums helped at least one person come through childhood with his sanity intact.
5. The sixteen-year-old narrator of your resoundingly successful, literature-altering novel made alienation seem cool and let some of us know we weren’t alone.
6. You converted your pain, rage, compassion, bravery, and literary skill into heartfelt novels and beautiful essays that illuminate the American condition.
7. Less famous than the others, you nonetheless made the term “black American” seem not an oxymoron but a redundancy, and you cleared up a lot of confusion.