20 Black Comic Book Creators on the Rise, Part One
Black comic book characters are enjoying a renaissance right now on both the page and screen, whehter it's Sam Wilson as Captain America, Bumblebee front-and-center in DC Super Hero Girls, Vixen guest-starring on Arrow, or Black Panther making his big-screen debut in Captain America: Civil War this summer and getting a solo series from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.
But many of comics' best-known black characters are the work of white writers and artists, from a time when the industry didn't offer many opportunities for black writers and artists. The next generation of black heroes will come from black creators who can tell their own stories and offer up their own unique creations. From traditional superheroes with a twist, to everyday people trying to survive in an apocalyptic sci-fi world, these black comic book creators are doing it all. Check out part one of our list below:
‘90s sitcom fans may know Erika Alexander as Maxine Shaw from Living Single or Pam Tucker from The Cosby Show, but the actress is also a comic book writer. With her series Concrete Park, she builds a dystopian world around exiled Earthlings left to defend themselves against each other. With the help of artist Tony Puryear, the visuals are just as vivid as the story. In honor of Black History Month, an e-book of the first issue is available for free. Snag yours here.
Who doesn't love a magical girl series? While Sailor Moon focused on middle and high school girls, Mildred Louis is taking readers to the wonderful world of college in her webcomic Agents of the Realm. It follows five girls who not only have to worry about grades, but defending the world as well. We interviewed Louis on her series and ongoing Kickstarter campaign. Check it out here.
Paul Louise-Julie crafted a world full of adventure with his series, The Pack. As a writer and artist for the comic, Louise-Julie provides detailed images alongside intriguing dialogue with the series about werewolves. His popular forthcoming project, Yohance, has also been attracting a lot of buzz. ComicsAlliance interviewed Louise-Julie on his series as well. Read the interview here and get a first look at Yohance here.
Greg Burnham is one half a duo for an upcoming series, Tuskegee Heirs. With several children's books under his belt like Broken Glass and Grandpa’s Shoes, Burnham will providee the script for the upcoming series inspired by the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. ComicsAlliance interviewed the creators as well, who just wrapped up their Kickstarter campaign that raised over seven times their goal with $74,000. With that amount, they will be able to move forward with creating an animated pilot as well. Needless to say, we're excited.
As the other half of the aforementioned Tuskegee Heirs duo, Marcus Williams' art style immediately draws in viewers, and we're thrilled to see him realize his vision of teenagers fighting to save the world inside giant robots! In an interview with ComicsAlliance, Williams said that he's interested in allowing young black children to "see themselves in powerful character roles." Williams' work can also be seen in the comic series Hero Cats, Super Natural, and D.M.C.. Check out the interview here.
Imagine the Justice League, but triller. Anthony Piper's fresh series, Trill League, follows Trill Robin as it parodies "mainstream staple characters" with an added twist. It also "combines superheroes, anime and hip-hop culture," according to Piper. Not only is the concept intriguing, it is one of the few times that reimagining an existing character feels innovative. Keep up with the series and snag a copy of the first issue here.
Juliana “Jewels” Smith
"What's a superhero to a revolutionary?" reads the tagline for Juliana “Jewels” Smith's series, Hafrocentric. The comic creator's project follows "self proclaimed Black feminist" Naima Pepper as she navigates through life and rants about gentrification. Alongside Ronald Nelson (illustrator) and Mike Hampton (colorist/letterer), Smith's series is both realistic and authentic. Check out a preview of the first three volumes here.
Robert Garrett has been putting in work with his series Ajala for a few years. Along with N. Steven Harris, Garrett created the the comic which follows Ajala Storm, a teenager who fights crime in Harlem. The ongoing series won a Glyph Comics Award for Best Female Character. Keep up with it here.
Fight Like a Girl is badass. The series created by David Pinckney follows a young black women by the name of Amarosa. The heroine volunteers to risk her life by fighting through nine trials of tribulation in order to gain a wish. For Amarosa, she hopes to be able to save her terminally ill brother. With Fight Like a Girl, Pinckney creates a classic story with a lot of heart. Grab Volume 1 of the series here.
Shauna J. Grant
Princess Love Pon is just as adorable story as it looks. Created by Shauna J. Grant, the webcomic follows Lia Sagamore who gets turned into a magical warrior after meeting an enchanted bunny. But along with defending the world, Sagamore has to navigate through her senior year of high school, and possibly a first kiss. Needless to say, Grant creates an exciting journey for readers of all ages to swoon over. The series is also available to read for free here.