Check Out These 5 Superhero Comic Creators for Black History Month
Posted on February 20, 2023
Historically, superhero comics have had somewhat of a diversity problem. Which is especially regrettable considering the diversity of its readership. However, you can expand your comic book horizons this Black History Month by checking out these exceptional works from some of the greatest and most underrated African American creators.
For more great comics, make sure to check out the offerings of your local Library branch as well as the hoopla app.
X-Factor Visionaries By Peter David Vol. 1
The ‘90s were a time for extreme, over-the-top comic book art, but often missing from discussions of that era is the work of the brilliant Larry Stroman. Falling somewhere between Denys Cowan (more on him later) and Bill Sienkiewicz, Stroman’s bold, exaggerated lines and energetic figures give him an unmistakable style. While Stroman’s art can be seen across the pages of Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, and Ghost Rider, it’s perhaps his short but memorable run on X-Factor with Peter David that is most fondly recalled. Fun fact: his comic The Tribe, co-created with Todd Johnson, remains the highest-selling comic of all time by African American creators, with issue #1 exceeding a million copies.
Thor: The Eternals Saga
One of the unsung heroes of superhero books over the past four decades, Keith Pollard has become a staple of comic conventions throughout Ohio and Michigan, where he can be found sketching Marvel heroes well into his 70s. Beginning his career at Marvel in the early 1970s, it’s difficult to name a character he hasn’t drawn, with stints on The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, and The Fantastic Four, to name just a few. Perhaps his most recognized contribution to the medium, however, is The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, for which he provided countless illustrations in the early 1990s. While never a superstar artist in the traditional sense, Pollard nonetheless has an impressive comics resume that provides the perfect insight into the Marvel “house style” of the ‘70s and ‘80s that characterized the artists who truly were the backbone of the industry.
With loose, energetic pencils, Denys Cowan is the kind of artist that fans of comic book illustration love to pore over. Dabbling in various DC books through the 1980s, Cowan would truly make a name for himself as artist for The Question in 1987, in which he teamed up with legendary Batman author Denny O’Neil to bring Steve Ditko’s creation into the modern era. Along with Dwayne McDuffie, another legendary African American comic creator, Cowan would bring Hardware to life, a book that took a huge step forward in terms of not only representation, but also pushing back against harmful stereotypes.
Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 1
Very few artists are as synonymous with Green Lantern as Darryl Banks. An Ohio native, Banks would draw for Innovation and Millenium Comics after college before securing his most memorable gig on DC’s Green Lantern Vol. 3. Starting with the fan-favorite “Emerald Twilight” storyline, Banks would draw a majority of the issues of this series from #50 through #142, as well as co-create beloved Green Lantern, Kyle Rainer. His crisp, legible linework and consistent, readable style make him one of the most underrated superhero artists of the last 30 years.
Black Panther By Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
While Ta-Nehisi Coates gets a lot of credit for revitalizing Black Panther in recent years, much of the character’s popularity can be attributed to the groundbreaking work of Christopher Priest. Joining Marvel in the late 1970s, Priest became the first African American editor in mainstream comics. He would go on to write The Falcon, Power Man and Iron Fist, Action Comics Weekly, and Green Lantern before working on his acclaimed run on Black Panther, in which he would introduce many of the conventions we associate with the character today—and many that found their way into the movies.