By Galilee Abdullah
Comics bring fictional characters to life through illustration and dialogue — but black characters, if included at all, have historically been portrayed as subservient, lazy, or dumb.
Now, some writers and illustrators of color are changing the narrative.
This year, Marvel Studios released Black Panther, a film from black writers Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. The star-studded film is currently one of the 10 highest grossing films in history.
But black characters in lead roles have been few and far between. One of the first comics written by a black woman was Jackie Ormes’ Torchy Brown in 1937. Ten years later, pioneering black journalist Orrin C. Evans published All-Negro Comics. In 1993, black creators founded Milestone Media, which created the Static Shock series.
As for Black Panther, he was created in 1966 by Jack Kirby — a white man. Black Panther’s recent stories come from black writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Christopher Priest, and Roxane Gay.
Black Panther’s buzz has left many fans wondering what other characters of color are in comics today.
WBEZ’s Worldview hears from seven writers and illustrators of color:
“Everyone wants to create a hero, put him in spandex, and make him fly. When I was a kid, I remember drawing Drew sitting on a throne with lions above his head and wearing green spandex. Today, I laugh at it because I’m thinking there’s no Rasta superhero that’s gonna be wearing green spandex, flying around the city.”
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