Black Comic Book Artists You Should KnowNov 18, 2022 09:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Has the lack of diversity or representation ever put you off getting into comics? Maybe it hasn't; but would you love to discover some comics that are diverse? Then this list is for you. These 11 Black comic book artists and illustrators are helping diversify the comic book industry with their realistic yet imaginative imagery. Black comics artists are putting out incredible work worthy of reader and industry support. Whether you're old or young, everyone can enjoy these comics and finally see a reflection of themselves in the pages.
Afua Richardson is an African-Native American artist. She did covers for five issues of Marvel's World of Wakanda and art for a short story back-up in the first issue. Her comic, Genius, with writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, won Top Cow's 2008 Pilot Season. In addition to being an illustrator, Afua is a singer/ Songwriter, Musician and voice actor, and mentor to many aspiring artists. She is the creator of her upcoming series Aquarius the Book of Mer. In 2011, Richardson received the Nina Simone Award for Artistic Achievement as one of the few African-American women comic book artists to work for the leading publishers in the field.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Clarence Matthew Baker was widely regarded as the master of the “good girl” style and is credited as the first successful Black comic book artist in the comics industry. Baker (1921-1959) was an American comic book artist and illustrator whose heroes and heroines included Voodah and the costumed crimefighter Phantom Lady. During his career he drew more than 1,000 pages of comics and over 200 covers. Baker was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2009.
Robyn Brooke Smith is a Jamaican writer and cartoonist based in the United States. Smith was aspired to become a cartoonist from childhood, inspired in part by her father, a portrait artist and her mother, a makeup artist. She is the author of The Saddest, Angriest, Black Girl in Town and , the book was named to the 2016 Best Short Form Comics list by The Comics Journal. American publisher and writer Jamila Rowser approached Smith to illustrate Wash Day, a comic about a hair care ritual for Black women, published in 2018 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It won a 2019 DiNKy Award for Best Floppy Comic.
Loyiso Mkize is a South African-born visual artist. He studied at the Cape Penisula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town. Mkize is known as the artist who eight years ago created Kwezi, an amazing comic book that tells the story of a 19-year-old South African city dweller who develops superman abilities. In 2021, Mkize signed a deal to collaborate with DC Comics on the penultimate chapter for Batman: Urban Legends #4 featuring the fictional characters Luke Fox and The Riddler.
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Alitha Martinez is a comic book artist from New York. Her comic book career began in the early 90's, but it was in 1999 that she got her big break when her talent was recognized by Marvel editor, Joe Quesada, who hired her as his assistant. Since then, Martinez' career has gone from strength to strength leading her to work for all the major comic book publishers. Martinez is best known for her work on the Iron Man and Batgirl comic. After illustrating the miniseries Black Panther: World of Wakanda for Marvel and Lazarus+66, Martinez teamed up with writer Devin Grayson and publisher Humanoids. The two created the 2019 sci-fi series Omni, which follows a doctor who gains incredible abilities that put her at the forefront of human evolution.
Nommo nominated Zimbabwe born Comic book artist and writer Bill Masuku is the creator of Razor-Man, Welcome to Dead World, and Captain South Africa. Masuku is also working on a personal initiative to lower the barriers of entry for those hoping to step into a career in comic books. "With Volume one of ‘Captain South Africa’ nearing completion, from volume two onwards, I'd like to hire new writers, artists, colorists, graphic designers, copywriters, and editors.” said Masuku in an interview with IOL. “The goal is to do a combination of training and collaboration to teach those interested how best to get their foot in the door, giving them as polished a portfolio as possible so they have higher chances of being hired by African or international comic book publishers," he concluded.
Sanford Greene is an accomplished comic illustrator who has worked professionally in comic illustration and related industries for over 15 years, including work for mainline publishers such as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image Comics. Recent work includes the hit Marvel series Power Man and Iron Fist as well as covers for Black Panther and Luke Cage. He currently works on his creator-owned online comic series for Line Webtoon, 1000, and the anticipated Bitter Root, a dark fantasy/action ongoing series published by Image Comics and set during the Harlem Renaissance.
Natacha Bustos has brought beloved Marvel comic book characters to life, from Miles Morales to the Runaways, but she best known for her contribution to the super smart superhero Moongirl series. Bustos grew up in the Spanish town Torremolinos, and was the only person of color there. Comics helped her escape and she found herself delving more and more into the imaginative worlds that comics and manga could bring. Bustos has contributed to several Star Wars comic series, including the 2020 series Star Wars: Doctor Aphra and the 2021 series Star Wars: The High Republic, for which Bustos illustrated variant covers.
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Jamal Campbell is a freelance illustrator and comic book artist working out of Toronto, Canada, and is making waves in the mainstream comic industry. After years of producing gorgeous cover art for prominent titles published by Marvel, DC and BOOM! Studios, Campbell teamed with writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker to create the new DC superhero, Naomi.
Nilah Magruder is an American comic artist who also works in storyboarding and animation. She is the author of M.F.K., a middle-grade graphic novel and winner of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, and How to Find a Fox, a picture book. Nilah has also written for Marvel Comics like Marvel Rising: Heroes Of The Round Table, illustrated children’s books for Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, and Penguin, and worked as a writer and storyboard artist in television animation. She is currently illustrating Creaky Acres, a middle-grade graphic novel about horseback riding.
Anthony Piper is best known for his work on Trill League. Trill League which is a hip-hop and anime-influenced parody of DC comic characters and mythology. Piper is well-versed in 2D animation, character design, comic illustration, story-writing and graphics. He was a lead character designer for Fox’s animated series Major Lazer and Axe Cop. His cover for Terminus Media’s Route 3 #3 won a Glyph Award at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in 2014.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
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