I will never forget my very first comic books. When I was in high school, my older brother attended the Black Expo in NYC and sent home to me a box of various comic books by black artists which included BROTHERMAN:Dictator of Discipline and Jam Quacky (a comic about a hip hop duck). I had been making my own comics since middle school, but receiving these actual books changed my whole thinking about comics and my potential as an artist. Though I had initially planned to become an animator, I found myself lured into the world of painting by the time I entered college. My brother continued to send me comics from time to time throughout my high school years, and typically the very rare titles produced and published by African American artists and authors.
During my travels last week, I had the pleasure of meeting artist and author John Jennings. Jennings and his collaborator Damian Duffy are currently touring the country promoting their beautifully produced collection BLACK COMIX: African American Independent Comics Art & Culture. This 176 page, full color book presents a survey of over 50 contemporary black comics artists and animators and is the first of its kind. Largely uncredited and unknown, many black cartoonists struggle to compete on a level playing field or get the same type of exposure as their white counterparts. Black Comix brings together an unprecedented collection of largely unheard of, and undeniably masterful artists, while also framing the work of these men and women in a broader historical and cultural context.
Artists like Dawud Anyabwile, whose Brotherman title revolutionized the comic book genre when they launched in 199o are profiled. Shortly after it’s release, this independently produced comic was selling more than the majors like DC & Marvel (without their distribution or money). Soon after several black characters began popping up in the fantasy worlds of DC and Marvel comics. The impact of Brotherman’s innovative art style and it’s unique voice is still mimicked in comics as well as Hollywood today!
In addition to the artists profiled, there are also essays and contributions from more well known comics artists like Keith Knight and my college classmate and ONYXCON founder, Joseph R. Wheeler, III.
It’s a must have for comic book fans, artists, and collectors alike. Check out BLACK COMIX and ORDER ONE for YOUR collection!