Black History Month: Comic Book Spotlight
by Tito W. James
With every year that passes, I see a growth in racial representation within Geek and creative culture. We’re seeing Black faces and voices within video games, books, film, anime, comics, and cartoons. In addition to diversity, we’re seeing variety within the kinds of stories being told. It’s great to see representation within the realms of fantasy and adventure. What’s most exciting is the prospect of entertainment featuring complex Black men and women with something for every age. Representation matters and we will doubtlessly feel the effects in years to come. The following is by no means a complete list but merely a highlight reel to inspire those who are looking for great stories with Black characters.
New Masters created by Nigerian brothers Shobo and Shof is a story that blends science fiction, adventure, drama, and vibrant Afrofuturism. In a striking vision of West Africa under the thumb of alien colonizers, a motley crew of outcasts find themselves caught up in a power struggle for control of an ancient artifact with immense power.
Land of the Living Gods
South African writer and producer Isaac Mogajane (Matwetwe, Catching Feelings) and Brazilian artist Santtos (Night Shift) bring us a fairy tale for the end times in Land of the Living Gods. When the spirits of the first people will return to witness the last days of humanity, a teenage girl and her magical pet plant, leave their deserted city home in search of the land of the gods.
From Johnnie Christmas (William Gibson’s Alien 3) and Jack T. Cole (The Unsound) comes a sci-fi adventure inspired by Greek mythology. When Surka, a ruthless criminal warlord, escapes her prison pit, she unleashes a wave of destruction that ripples across Tartarus, a vital colony in an everlasting galactic war. Years later, when young cadet Tilde learns that she’s Surka’s daughter, will she continue to fight on the side of galactic order, or will she reclaim her mother’s dark crown?
Black Hammer Reborn
Jeff Lemire’s Eisner Award-winning superhero saga returns in this ongoing series picking up twenty years later with new series artist, Caitlin Yarsky. Set twenty years after the events of Black Hammer, Lucy and the world, have moved on. Living in the suburbs of Spiral City, Lucy is married and has children. But all is not blissful. Her marriage is falling apart, her job has reached a dead end, and for mysterious reasons, she hasn’t picked up the hammer in years. But, as her domestic life begins to crumble, the secrets of the last twenty years, and the reasons Lucy really gave up being Black Hammer, begin to resurface, threatening her family, and the peace she has tried hard to find for herself.
From Khary Randolph (Tech Jacket) and Brandon Thomas (Horizon) comes Excellence a new action-packed fantasy series. The comic is about a secret society of black magicians ordered by their unseen masters to better the lives of others but never themselves. That is, until wizard apprentice Spencer Dales decides to fight the broken system for a better future. With globetrotting escapades and intrigue Excellence is like an Afro-fantasy Assassins Creed.
Prince of Cats
Created by comic auteur Ronald Wimberly (LAAB Magazine) Prince of Cats is the B-side to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, played at an eighties block party in an NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, disco, and no wave. It’s the story of the minor players with Tybalt at the center. Prince of Cats has been optioned for a film adaptation directed by Spike Lee.
Created by Rob Guillory (Chew) Farmhand is about a farm where you can harvest human organs for transplants. Part horror story and part family drama with a touch of allegory, Farmhand is the kind of oddball comic that’ll appeal to fans of Stranger Things. Farmhand returns this April with its darkest story arc yet and the series is in development for a TV show on AMC.
Djeliya is a fantasy epic inspired by West African folklore that follows Prince Monsour and his royal storyteller Awa as they journey to the mysterious tower guarded by the wizard Soumaoro. Creator Juni Ba has quickley become a fan favorite with his artistic influences incorporating everything from Hellboy, to Samurai Jack, and Shonen Manga. The final product is unlike anything else out on comic book shelves.
Created by Chuck Brown, David F. Walker, and Sanford Greene, Bitter Root is about a family of monster hunters who specialize in curing the souls of those infected by hate. When a terrible tragedy claims the lives of most of the family, the surviving cousins are divided between by the desire to cure monsters or to kill them.
Set in the world of Robert Kirkman’s, The Walking Dead, Clementine is the first book in a planned YA trilogy written and illustrated by Tillie Walden (Spinning, On A Sunbeam). In Clementine Book One, she’s back on the road, looking to put her traumatic past behind her and forge a new path all her own. But when she comes across an Amish teenager named Amos, the unlikely pair journeys north to an abandoned ski resort in Vermont, where they meet up with a small group of teenagers attempting to build a new, walker-free settlement. As friendship, rivalry, and romance begin to blossom amongst the group, the harsh winter soon reveals that the biggest threat to their survival…might be each other.