Minorities in cartoons: Cal Durham

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Last updated on December 10th, 2021

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Calvin “Cal” Durham, a supporting character in Aquaman comics. Cal first appeared in “Aquaman” #57 in 1977. He was created by Jim Aparo and David Michelinie.


Cal’s backstory states he was originally a henchman of Aquaman foe Black Manta. Manta (who’s also African-American) claimed he was trying to improve life for African-Americans by relocating them to under the sea, away from the surface world’s racism. To that end, Durham underwent an operation that gave him the ability to breathe underwater. Of course, Manta’s real goal is plundering the oceans and eliminating his arch-foe, the Sea King.

Upon discovering this, Cal rebelled against his former boss, and sided with Aquaman in a fight against the villain. After serving time in prison for his crimes as a henchman, Cal became an ally of the Sea King.

During the “Sub Diego” storyline in the 2000s, Cal was elected mayor of the sunken, then-Atlantis-like city of San Diego (don’t ask).

Other media

Cal’s yet to make any non-comics appearances. However, he’s been referenced in other media.

Aqualad‘s Atlantean name in the “Young Justice” TV series is “Kaldur’ahm,” which phonetically sounds like “Cal Durham.”

In issue #9 of the “Young Justice” spinoff comic, Cal’s shown with a similar origin as his comic counterpart. However, in the series, Cal settled in Atlantis and became the adopted father of Aqualad. (And no, I have no idea if the similarity in their names’ pronunciation ever came up.)

(Updated 11/18/16)

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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