All posts by Rudly Raphael

The Evolution Of The Black Superhero

What a time it is for African Americans to be represented in comic book movies, today’s most popular film genre. The ending of Avengers Endgame strongly suggests the next Captain America will be Black, while Black Panther remains the highest-grossing solo superhero movie ($1,346,913,161 globally). On the DC side, its most popular movie character is Aquaman ($1,147,761,807 globally), portrayed by a person of color (Jason Momoa) – so that has to count for something.

Does this mean African Americans are being represented fairly these days in comic book movies (or Hollywood for that matter)?

That’s a complicated question that requires a sense of context by understanding the history and evolution of the Black comic book hero. To understand this complexity, we surveyed more than 500 African Americans to gauge their perception, attitude and overall opinion, when it comes to Black superheroes. The research found that, when it comes to African American being well-represented in comic book movies, 39 percent agreed while 42 percent of the respondents disagreed. However, 80 percent of the respondents claimed they presently or have in the past read comic books. While this is a surprisingly high number, it is not odd, considering that Black Panther was a nationwide cultural phenomenon.

Yes, it’s complicated, so let’s take a historical journey to understand the Black superhero and its impact on American culture.

The First Black Superpower

African Americans appeared widely in 20th-century comic books as both sidekicks and heroes, under such brands as All-Negro Comics and Timely Comics. Yet the world wouldn’t see its first Black superhero until July 1966, in an issue of Marvel’s Fantastic Four (#52).

That was Black Panther.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, T’Challa — a.k.a “Black Panther” — wasn’t a big seller. The character, however, was broadly accepted along with other minorities in Marvel’s continual multicultural rollout throughout the decades (inclusivity and social causes were always part of Lee’s visionary marketing). What’s more, Black Panther served two important purposes, according to an article by Noel Murray in The Week:

  • Becoming a cultural icon for the burgeoning Black Power movement (and later black middle class)
  • Presenting a well-rounded character instead of a two-dimensional trope, which would set the tone for future Black and other minority characters

Three years after Black Panther’s debut, Marvel introduced Falcon (today’s new Captain America in his film version, as mentioned). DC would shortly follow suit when Kirby switched companies and created Black Racer for his series New Gods (1971), followed by the introduction of John Stewart, an architect who becomes Hal Jordan’s new backup Green Lantern (1972). (Murray explains that Stewart was far from a well-rounded character, falling into the “angry Black man” trope.)

No Black superhero starred in his own mainstream comic title until 1972 when Luke Cage debuted for Marvel in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. As for DC, its first Black superhero series was Black Lightning in 1977.

According to the Ebony/QuestionPro study, Black Panther is the most popular Black male superhero (50 percent), with Blade in second (15 percent). (Superman, the American dream archetypal image, is the African American’s favorite non-Black superhero.)

However, Black Panther (or any of the characters above) is not the highest-selling Black comic book. That achievement falls to another character whose story adds to the complex history of Black superheroes.

The Trojan Horse Superhero

According to various comic book sales statistics, Spawn is one of the best-selling comic books in history. The comic book selling more than 150 million copies is impressive on its own, but even more so considering that Spawn debuted in 1992, long after other mega-selling superheroes like Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man.

Created by Todd McFarlane for Image Comics, the character Spawn has always been an unusual figure, more of a demonic mercenary than a traditional cape crusader. What’s fascinating is that McFarlane didn’t reveal to readers that his masked antihero was African American until the series was in full swing and already a runaway success. The “content of the character” was sold first — in the form of Spawn’s origin story, personality and powers — and then his skin color was revealed to geekdom. Spawn remained hugely successful for years, even if its 1997 film adaptation was tepidly received (but it should be noted that Michael Jai White, who played Spawn, became the first African American to portray a comic book superhero in a major motion picture).

One could argue that the edgy and visceral Spawn brand would pave the way for the huge success of Westley Snipes in the Blade trilogy (grossing more than $800 million globally, an impressive feat for an R-rated franchise). If you add to this the box office success of Will Smith’s Hancock (2008) and Laurence Fishbourne’s iconic portrayal of Morpheus in The Matrix trilogy, then it’s no surprise that Black Panther would engage the interest of all races once he appeared in film.

It seems Black Panther has come full circle as both an American and Black icon – but we shall see if the Spawn film reboot with Oscar-winner Jammie Foxx can take it even higher.

Without a doubt, Black superheroes have come along way, using various means, but there is still a major problem: The Black female superhero.

Only One Storm

Despite the breakthrough and scene-stealing performances of Danai Gurira (Okoye) and Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) in Black Panther or Zazie Beetz (Domino) in Deadpool 2, Black female superheroes have been grossly underrepresented in all mediums.

The most recognized and popular female Black superhero would be the Kenyan Ororo Munroe as Storm. She was part of a wider Black superhero rollout in the late 70s and early 80s that included Cyborg, Deathlok, and Blade — even becoming the eventual leader of the X-Men. As far as the successful X-Men film franchise, both Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp’s portrayals of Storm have been received with mixed results.

Results from our study shows that Storm is easily the most popular black female superhero (47 percent), followed by Bumblebee (seven percent), Nubia (six percent), and Vixen (six percent). If you include all other Black female superheroes ever created for comic books, only Storm has appeared in a movie adaptation (please don’t make me admit that Cat Woman was ever made). There are no plans for a Nakia or Domino origin-story film – although Jurnee Smollett-Bell will be playing Black Canary in DC’s upcoming Birds of Prey.

In short and for the most part, Black female superheroes are still stuck somewhere in the early 60s when it comes to wide representation.

Mirror, mirror on the Black wall

Black superheroes were a reaction and action to their specific eras – a reflection of African American culture and struggles, as well as a looking glass into hopeful futures.

Black Panther appeared in a time of turmoil and civil rights battles, followed by other gritty characters like the urban Luke Cage. The principled but disabled Cyborg and the immigrant, mutant Storm are apt representations of African Americans during the Reagan Era – with Spawn as the culmination in the early 90s as a wrathful force against an oppressive society (remember the Los Angeles and St. Petersburg riots?). Blade can be seen as the African American fight against the vampiric forces of police brutality and mass incarceration during the Bush and Clinton presidencies. Black Panther in his film incarnation is the return of 60s activism in the #BlackLivesMatter era, as well as the symbol of what is best and noble in African Americans.

Beyond this Jungian speculation, one must admit Black superheroes have been successful in terms of comic book and movie ticket sales. The dollars made by Spawn, Blade, and Black Panther don’t lie. The path has been uneven and even murky, but it has certainly created role models and epic stories that cut across all demographics.

But there is much ground to be made (especially with Black women). The success of African Americans in comic book movies has not bled into the perception Blacks have of Hollywood’s portrayal of them. As illustrations, the study further found that:

  • 83 percent of respondents agree African Americans are stereotyped in film or television
  • 59 percent of respondents agree that African Americans are cast for no other reason but to add diversity
  • 71 percent agree that African Americans get killed off more/earlier than other characters

There is no cape crusader coming to change this, but there is the creativity of writers and artists who take risks to capture the zeitgeist of our culture, imperfectly bringing hope to one Black child’s imagination at a time.

The State Of “Things” In America

A new syndicated study from EBONY/QuestionPro considers whether African-Americans today feel as hopeless as slaves heading to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade.

In Neil Gaiman’s television adaptation of American Gods, African deity Anansi (played by Orlando Jones) appears to a group of slaves heading to the New World on a Dutch ship. Dressed in a flashy modern suit, he explains to the chained and terrified group that what lies ahead for them and their descendants are centuries of pain, exploitation and oppression. The best the captured Africans can do is overthrow the Dutch slavers while on the open ocean, even if it will mean the destruction of the ship and their certain deaths. The slaves’ only hope, the deity stresses, is a heroic act of ultimate rebellion.

Fast-forward to 2019 in the (alleged) real world. Is hope as dead for Blacks in this country today as it was for the slaves in American Gods during colonial times?

The EBONY/QuestionPro survey was conducted the last week of December 2018. The respondents were 700 adult African-Americans across all economic and education demographics, with a 56-to44 percent female-male gender split. Findings include:

When it comes to economic issues, most African-Americans (56 percent) feel their household finances are the same as they were a year ago; 30 percent believe their economic situations will improve in the next year. As far as the overall American economy, almost half (40 percent) of participants believe it will get worse in 2019.

It’s The Economy, Stupid

As the era of President Donald Trump spread its sails, African-Americans are far less enthusiastic about their present conditions.

Most respondents feel Black communities are losing ground on these issues:

  • Addressing racial problems (58 percent)
  • Providing access to quality healthcare (50 percent)
  • Narrowing the gap between rich and poor (57 percent)
  • Reducing poverty, hunger, and the homelessness (51 percent)
  • Improving immigration policies (56 percent)

When it comes to overall race relations, the results are somewhat surprising, especially when one considers the recent rise of White nationalism and populism across the country. Not much more than half (58 percent) of respondents state that current race relations in the USA are bad/somewhat bad; 22 percent claim they are neither good nor bad; and 20 percent say they are somewhat good/very good.

As the adage goes, “It’s the economy, stupid.” According to the study, the top four priorities for African-Americans are:

  • Tax cuts and tax reforms
  • Race relations and civil rights
  • The economy and jobs
  • Immigration

According to another adage, “People vote their wallets and not their hearts.” This could mean mixed results in 2020 for Democrats, who have traditionally depended on a strong Black vote, if it proves to hold true.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Without a doubt, these are turbulent times for African-Americans. Then again, many may question when since our ancestors arrived on these shores there haven’t been turbulent times for African-Americans.

When asked about New Year’s resolutions, African-Americans seem to be highly committed. Only 40 percent of those surveyed say they kept one or more of their 2018 resolutions. With regard to personal improvement in 2019,  the top priorities of those surveyed are:

  • Eat better
  • Save money
  • Exercise more
  • Focus more on self-care (e.g., getting more sleep, reducing stress)

Focusing more on self-care may become a higher priority in 2019 if the economy and immigration reform falter, but under any cirumstances, here’s to a better diet!

“Keep Hope Alive!”

At the 1988 Democratic Convention, presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, Sr. said the following:

“You must not surrender. You may or may not get there, but just know that you’re qualified and hold on and hold out. We must never surrender. America will get better and better. Keep hope alive!”

Today, according to the EBONY survey, a considerable number of African-Americans agree with that statement: Forty percent of respondents state they are optimistic when it comes to the future of the United States; only 34percent are pessimistic. Moreover, a robust 69 percent of survey respondents indicate they are somewhat satisfied/very satisfied with their overall quality of life.

Despite all our issues, hope, it seems, is alive and well.


How the Construction Industry Benefits from Augmented Reality

The latest American Institute of Architects study predicts that nonresidential construction industry spending in the U.S. will increase by 4% through 2019. The institutional sector is expected to grow by 4.5%, compared to 3.4% for commercial/industrial. The AIA report also found that public safety (5.9%), education (5.2%), industrial (4.9%), healthcare (4.4%) and office (4.1%) projects will see the most spending in 2019. With each year comes advancements to the construction industry, and we look at the top trend you should expect to see in the construction industry in 2019.


Virtual reality has been an emerging trend in many industries over the past few years, but when compared to augmented reality’s uses and benefits, it quickly feels outdated. While virtual reality can only replace the real world through a simulated environment, augmented reality creates and enhances replicas of the real world for a better view of the project as a whole.   


Accuracy is obviously very important in any industry, but especially the construction industry, where an inaccurate prediction can waste time and huge amounts of money and resources. AR gives the team a walkthrough of the entire project, with specific details down the exact measurements.


Real-time visualizations allow designers and architects to take the guesswork out of the equation, which allows them to not need to rely on manually recorded measurements or drawings. This leads to more efficient planning, and saves the time and effort of the team because they don’t need to build different design option plans.


Using AR, architects and designers can collaborate and analyze the space, oftentimes leading to better design. With AR, they can walk through the project, proactively catch any design flaws and make adjustments easily. Augmented reality takes the guesswork out of the the project, which enables more accurate timelines and estimated costs.

Augmented reality is a huge technological advancement for the construction industry because it allows for a more streamlined approach in every aspect of the project. With AR, architects and designers are able to save time and money, while giving better design insights, and accelerate the construction process.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 20 million active respondents, including our General Contractor panel. Our General Contractor panel offers unparalleled value by providing big box stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, a front row seat with professional home builders and industrial contractors.  It is one of a handful in the continental U.S. and consists of more than 80,000 highly engaged, pre-screened general contractors who provide critical insights. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients.


Changes For the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

The U.S. packaged foods industry is a $378 billion year industry, and it is facing changes in the upcoming year, particularly in the packaged foods sector. Consumers today are turning away from the mass-produced pantry staples of national packaged brands and turning to healthier, local and more “authentic” food.

Large packaged foods companies like Kraft, Kellogg and ConAgra, have reported a decline in sales, as consumers are moving towards fresher options. Kellogg saw a 5.7% decline in the breakfast foods category, which makes sense as breakfast routines are changing. Kellogg’s Special K brand was created with calorie-counters in mind. Now that the diet trend has shifted to low carb/protein, Special K is losing traction with consumers. Instead of carb heavy cereals like Kellogg’s Special K, consumers are seeking on-the-go options like Greek yogurt and protein bars. Kraft also saw a decline in sales of their Mac & Cheese and Velveeta products, explaining this reflects changes in consumer preferences.

As more consumers focus on sugar as a primary source of unnecessary calories and connect it to unwanted weight gain, brands will need to re-engage shoppers with more nutritious options. Many packaged food companies are working to reduce ingredients like sodium, sugars and fats, and are making commitments to remove “unnecessary” calories out of their products. A recent study found that 71% of consumers read the sugar content on ingredient labels, and 46% strongly want to reduce their consumption of sugar. Manufacturers are trying to win back sugar-conscious consumers by highlighting the reduced amount of sugar in their products. The number of products launched with a ‘low/no/reduced sugar’ claim increased 45% in 2017 compared to five years ago. Another tactic packaged foods companies are using is to switch the type of sweetener used or substitute with one perceived as healthier. The number of products carrying a ‘no artificial sweeteners’ claim has increased 4.4% from a year ago, and products with ‘no added sugar’ claims are up 2.6%.

Regardless of their chosen strategy, manufacturers need to re-engage consumers with more nutritious options if they want to preserve their place in the market.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. QuestionPro Audience has been instrumental in product development and brand positioning for many partners, including CVS, Walgreens, Microsoft, among many others. Contact us for your next research project:   

The Top 5 Infographics of October

October was a great month for data and research. We scoured the internet to create our top 5 infographics list for the month of October. They vary from climate change to food trends for 2019. Enjoy!


Foodies, take notice! 2019 is the year for African, Israeli and Japanese infusion. Vegan and raw foods will take precedence over the pork belly trend of 2018. For the drinkers, Aperol frose looks to be the front runner for summer 2019. All in all, I’m looking forward to eating my way through 2019.



This next infographic is for every social media marketer. Content is king in marketing right now, and it can become overwhelming to deal with the day to day social media tasks. Post Planner put together a list of 21 tools to help marketers shoulder their social media burden.



Only 2% of all Americans say they’re currently at their dream job, according to MidAmerica Nazarene University. They recently surveyed 2,000 Americans and asked them everything about their perfect dream job, from salary to location, industry, perks and more.




Climate change is a very real thing that affects everyone. Scientists say that without significant changes, farming’s global warming footprint will grow rapidly in the next few decades. This infographic shows how farmers can make a change.




According to Invespcro, welcome emails are so important that they result in four times more open rates and five times more clicks than regular email marketing campaigns and the average open rate for welcome emails is 50%, which makes them 86% more effective than standard newsletters.


QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research.

Halloween By The Numbers

Happy Halloween! Halloween is the spookiest time of year, when children, adults and pets alike can dress up and get treats from their neighbors. We broke down the most popular treats, who will be dressing up, and other fun facts about Halloween.

Insight for the Pet Food Industry

It’s no secret that the pet food industry is booming, and will continue to grow in 2019 due to two important factors: humanization and premiumization.

Pet owners are already buying the amount of pet food they need, so the quantity can’t go up. Instead, growth is due to pet owners buying the best products for their pets. Premium pet food sales are continuing to increase, whereas other areas are seeing drops in growth. A recent report from Euromonitor International found that in 2017 premium dog and cat food sales made up more of total value sales than economy and mid-priced sales combined.

As pet owners in the U.S., perhaps more than in any other country, treat their pets as integral members of their families, the price they are willing to pay for their beloved’s care has gone up. Dog food sales grew 8% between 2012-17 to reach $11.8 billion, while cat food sales increased 11% to reach $6.83 billion during that period. Snacking is no longer a bad habit for humans; 1 in 11 pet owners say they feed their pet toppers such as sauce and gravy as a snack, and 75% of pet owners say that treats are their way of showing their pet love.

With so much money at stake, it is more important than ever for pet food companies to conduct market research, so they can gain insight from veterinarians about the needs of pet owners.

QuestionPro Audience has the largest veterinarian panel in the U.S., which consists of more than 40,000 highly engaged, pre-screened veterinarians who provide critical insights. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients.

Will Voters Turn Up for the Midterm Elections?

The U.S. midterm elections on November 6th are only weeks away, and there has been much debate and discussion over the highly anticipated outcomes. Republicans currently hold two-thirds of the governor positions across the country, but this year, 26 of those seats are on the ballot. In the Senate, there will be at least 10 states that are predicted to be extremely close in votes.  

Voter turnout is of great interest to both the Republican and Democratic parties this election. A recent study found that Democrats are more politically active than Republicans ahead of the midterm elections. More than half of registered Democratic voters surveyed have attended a political rally, protest or campaign-related event in the past year, compared to 40% of Republican voters.

Need to gain insight into voter behavior? Look no further. Your campaign’s voter file is the foundation of your outreach and will shape your strategy. Why trust anyone but the best?

QuestionPro Audience’s Registered Voter panel provides academic researchers, pollsters and campaign managers, among others, with access to the first nationwide panel of likely voters to conduct online polling, ad testing, focus groups and in-depth interviewing among registered voters across the United States. Our voter panel consists of authentic, well-screened and profiled respondents. The panel members are all fully incentivized by our reward structure, which results in highly active survey participants and optimum data quality for your project.

This dedicated panel harnesses the power of web, social media and mobile technology to address key industry challenges where traditional phone-based data collection has failed—speed, accuracy, feasibility and cost-effective research.
With industry knowledge and innovative tools, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. Contact us for your next research project:

Traveling on a Budget: Top 5 Cities in the U.S.

Americans traveling solo is at an all-time high right now, particularly among millennials. Travel, in general, is easier than even a decade ago. With smartphones, we’re able to research and book travel plans, but once you’re there, activities cost money. Luckily, RetailMeNot recently conducted research to find out which U.S. cities are best to travel to alone when on a tight budget. Here are the top five.


Jacksonville is located along the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. With more than 20 miles of beaches, 10 state and national parks, and a vibrant nightlife scene, it’s no surprise it made this list. Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier only costs you a dollar, and the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail (cost: $0) is a 15-mile paved path for bikers, walkers and joggers to enjoy.


New Orleans is known for Bourbon Street, but has so much more to offer. The Woldenberg Riverfront Park is 16 acres of green space for you to relax in and enjoy. The French Market is an open-air market that features six blocks of art, handmade crafts, produce, and delicious eats.


The Capital city is known for being on the pricier side, but it doesn’t have to be. Take your pick of landmarks to tour that are entirely free of charge: the White House, Library of Congress, National Zoo, National Air and Space Museum, United States Botanic Garden, and so many more.


Texas’ second-largest city has rich history, and it doesn’t disappoint. Hemisfair, a series of urban parks that are home to various structures dating from the Spanish Colonial era, provide history and the perfect place to unwind. The San Antonio River Walk is an urban waterway on the San Antonio River in downtown San Antonio (say that three times fast), lined with restaurants and shops.


Located in the heart of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has a thriving art and restaurant scene. It’s also a hiker’s paradise, as the Blue Ridge Mountains offer hundreds of trails, ranging in levels of experience. The Botanical Gardens are free to explore, though donations help maintain the grounds’ 10 acres.  

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 22 million active respondents, including frequent travelers, who are strategically recruited to participate in quantitative research and live discussions. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research. With industry knowledge and innovative tools, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. Contact us for your next research project.

The New Trend in Petcare Healthcare: CBD

Over the past ten years, the relationship between pet and owner has taken on a new meaning. With Americans waiting until later, if at all, to start a family, the bond with their pets has grown stronger, and young Americans are leading in their rate of pet ownership. The pet industry has seen changes like the popularity of grain-free food and pet technology. Now, the focus is on CBD oil for pets.

Just as people are increasingly taking cannabis to ease their ailments, pet products with cannabis are on the rise. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicating chemical compound that comes from the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabinoid) CBD doesn’t get users high.

Scientific research has shown that there are many legitimate medical uses for cannabis. Once cannabis was proven to help humans, pet products seemed to be the natural progression for many cannabis supporters. At SuperZoo 2018, the largest national show for pet retailers, there were an increasing number of products with CBD and hemp oil on display. Many pet owners are finding that cannabis oil serves as an alternative to traditional medicine, providing many of the same benefits without the side effects.

According to Dogs Naturally, an aging Staffordshire Terrier had a two-and-a-half-inch mammary tumor and metastasis that disappeared three months after treatment with cannabis and didn’t come back. The owner of a Jack Russell Terrier with a severe heart murmur and painful arthritis found he was able to take long walks after a month of cannabis treatment. That’s when veterinarian Edward Bassingthwaighte discovered cannabis could be a critical part of his holistic veterinary practice. “I simply can’t explain the improved heart murmur,” reported Bassingthwaite. “They normally don’t get better.”

It is estimated that up to 5% of dogs suffer from seizures. Typically, these dogs are put on drugs like phenobarbital and potassium bromide. While they may help control the seizures, they can be extremely harmful to your dog’s liver. Additionally, CBD has been shown to work with drug-resistant epilepsy. In one study, 7 out of 8 patients with epilepsy that was resistant to drugs saw an improvement within 4 to 5 months of taking CBD.

The biggest money maker in the pet industry right now is healthcare, particularly veterinary care. In 2016, $15.42 billion was spent solely in veterinary care, up 2.5% from 2015. Judging by the recent growth in the pet care market, the pet medicine opportunity for cannabis is too large to ignore.

QuestionPro Audience has more than 10 niche panels, including our veterinarian panel. Our vet panel is one of a handful in the continental U.S. and consists of more than 40,000 highly engaged, pre-screened veterinarians who provide critical insights. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients.