It’s Black History Month, so it’s only fitting that we do this. Whether you’re a longtime comic fan or relatively uninitiated, here are 13 Black comic book writers you need to be familiar with.
Known For: Boondocks—But you probably already knew that. The cartoonist rose to household notoriety upon writing and drawing the comic strip before becoming showrunner of the hit TV show’s first three seasons. These days you can find him behind the scenes of his Adult Swim series, Black Jesus, which has received pretty favorable reviews and was renewed for a third season.
You Should Check Out: Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel, which chronicles events surrounding east St. Louis’ secession from the Union.
Known For: Underworld (movie series)—You also probably know him for I, Frakenstein.
You Should Check Out: Adam: The Legend of Blue Marvel, a mini-series chronicling a forgotten Civl Rights era hero. Fun fact: it’s his most well known title.
Known For: Black Panther—The first full-time Black Marvel comics employee, Priest (fka Jim Owsley) made his professional debut in 1983 writing for The Falcon series. He later became an editor for the Spider-man books from ’84 to ’86 before becoming the first Black writer to contribute to the Justice League series… among many other dope-ass accomplishments.
You Should Check Out: Justice League #34, which just hit shelves in December.
You Should Check Out: Basically every book in the whole series.
Known For: Shaft—As well as his Blaxplotation expertise. His Shaft series was so good that it won a Glyph Comics Award in 2015. Aside from that, you’ll also find the filmmaker/scholar’s name attached to the graphic novel Number 13, among other titles across Marvel, DC and IDW.
You Should Check Out: The Adventures of Darius Logan Book One: Super Justice Force, from his critically-acclaimed young adult series.
Juliana “Jewels” Smith
Known For: (H)afrocentric—A writer, cultural worker and educator, Juliana Smith brings dimension to the classroom by teaching with comic books. (H)afrocentric is both a comic book and comic strip that tells the story of four Black millennial undergrads at Ronald Reagan University. It was was created “as a way to challenge students and readers alike about the presumptions around race, class, gender and sexuality through character dialogue.”
You Should Check Out: (H)afrocentric Volume 4, which received the Glyph Award for Best Writer in 2016.
Known For: Being one of the most well-known comic book writers of our generation. McDuffie, who was also behind the cartoon series Static Shock, earned three Eisner nominations before passing away at 49.
You Should Check Out: Milestone Forever
Known For: BLACK—A comic book series that imagines a world where only Black people have superpowers.
You Should Check Out: The first six issues, which can all be found here.
Anthony Piper (Trill League)
Known For: Trill League—You know, the hilarious comic series we featured in our “10 Comic Books You Need to Read—For the Culture” roundup. Writer Victoria Johnson said in July: “Piper releases one-off pages that poke fun at our faves and not-so-faves in pop culture,” she wrote in July. “In one of them, Robin’s counterpart, Trill Robin, is hired by Drake’s ghostwriters to keep the Toronto rhymer safe after Kendrick Lamar drops ‘The Heart Part IV.'”
Known For: The Rippers—A veteran in the industry, she’s also at the helm of the Women in Comics NYC Collective International.
You Should Check Out: Eating Vampires
Known For: NIOBE: She is Life—Stenberg told Solange in 2016: “[Niobe]’s finding her faith and finding her identity. And she’s going to keep growing until she becomes this warrior destined to unite the human world and the elf world. I think it’s officially the first comic book to be written by a Black girl, starring a Black girl, and illustrated by a Black girl [Ashley A. Woods].”
You Should Check Out: NIOBE: She is Death, the sequel to the first installment of NIOBE.
Known For: Galtow
You Should Check Out: Ajala: A Series of Adventures, which won the 2014 Glyph Comics Award for Best Female Character.
Known For: Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer—Also featured on our “10 Comic Books You Need to Read—For the Culture” list, HTDS literally reimagines civil rights figure Harriet Tubman as a slayer of demons dedicated to freeing enslaved people. It’s a wild storyline if we ever heard one, but damn if it don’t work.
You Should Check Out: Black Irish, the YouTube Red series Crownson is said to be developing.
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