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Overview


The Encyclopedia of Black Comics, focuses on people of African descent who have published significant works in the United States or have worked across various aspects of the comics industry. The book focuses on creators in the field of comics: inkers, illustrators, artists, writers, editors, Black comic historians, Black comic convention creators, website creators, archivists and academics—as well as individuals who may not fit into any category but have made notable achievements within and/or across Black comic culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682751015
Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
Publication date: 09/15/2017
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Sheena C. Howard is Associate Professor of Communication at Rider University and an award-winning author, including a 2014 Eisner Award winner for her co-edited book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation. In 2016, she directed, produced and wrote the documentary Remixing Colorblind, and she has bylines in The Huffington Post, Curve Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and more.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Entries AZ

Anderson, Jiba Molei

(Aug. 17, 1972– )

Born in Detroit, MI

University of Michigan, BFA in illustration and photography, 1994

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA in visual communication, 1998

Illustrator, designer, writer, educator, and publisher

Creator of The Horsemen

Jiba Molei Anderson's creation The Horsemen served as the flagship property for his publishing house, Griot Enterprises, gaining inclusion in the permanent library of the Smithsonian Institution.

His first crack at comics came in 1995, when La Morris Richmond hired Anderson as an inker for his Jigaboo Devil comic. Anderson's creation The Horsemen began during work on his master's of fine arts thesis. This comic marked a shift from the concerns that normally occupied African-American superheroes at the time, such as drug dealing or other forms of inner-city crime. Anderson connected African American superheroes to African mythology, immersing himself in the study of Yoruba, which managed to survive the slave trade in Cuba and Haiti.

The comic depicts Yoruba gods as superheroes, with each chapter named for a different divine entity. The team consists of seven orishas, or manifestations of the god Olodumare. These orishas inhabit a group of young Black professionals from Detroit who do combat with a corrupt group of multicultural orishas known as The Deitis, who are bent on seeing humanity worship at the feet of politics, organized religion, commerce, and other corrupting elements of the modern world.

The year after receiving his master's degree, Anderson founded Griot Enterprises publishing house and creative studio, with The Horsemen serving as its first major property. The first Horsemen comic saw release in 2002, receiving critical acclaim.

While the major comics publishers continued to focus on an audience it believed consisted solely of white, middle-class, adolescent males, Anderson and his contemporaries created stories about a wider range of humanity. His work includes positive images of people from a variety of ethnicities, working to dispel years of negative stereotyping.

Anderson's influences ran the gamut of popular culture. Along with the obvious influence of cartoons and comic books, Anderson draws inspiration from the works of Alphonse Mucha, Frank Frazetta — whose artwork was featured on numerous Conan the Barbarian covers and albums by Molly Hatchet — and Z-grade grindhouse films.

Anderson's other ventures into writing include the educational text Manifesto: The Tao of Jiba Molei Anderson, Chronicle: The Art of Jiba Molei Anderson, and his blog The Afrosoul Chronicles, where Anderson expounds on the subjects of race, politics, business, and popular culture. Anderson also served as the lead writer and art director of the comic Crates: The Hip Hop Chronicles with Christian Beranek.

Anderson has managed to straddle the fence between academic and corporate worlds during his career. As an educator, he has taught as an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Arts and as an adjunct faculty member at Sanford-Brown College and Chicago State University, and a visiting assistant professor at DeVry University. He has served in the capacity of graphic designer, production artist, and art director for the likes of KBA Marketing, Ryan Partnership, Cedar Grove Books, Landmark Sign Group, and Manga Entertainment. He has also worked as a graphic designer, animator, art director, and graphic novelist for institutions such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Chicago Academy of Music, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Anderson has taken part in both one-man and group shows and has had his work featured in the book Black Comix. He has also traveled the country as a public speaker, discussing comic books and graphic novels as a means to explore issues of race, identity, and culture in the classroom.

Anderson believes comics are a democratic medium with power to speak globally. Through his work, he hopes to develop what he calls "young warriors," people with strong viewpoints and the drive to succeed.

Anderson, Julie M.

(July 30, 1987– )

Born in New York, NY

Miami Palmetto High School, 2007

Illustrator, designer, and webcomic author

Creator of the webcomics Onyx and VE Dead Breed

A self-taught artist, Julie Anderson is the author of two webcomics, Onyx and VE Dead Breed. Many of her works engage with Afrofuturism, an international aesthetic movement that addresses concerns of the African Diaspora through science fiction.

Anderson has worked in a variety of creative fields, including modeling, illustration, and graphic design. She also illustrated two children's books: It's Okay to Be Like Me! written by Grace Zhang, and Sir Frederick Squirrel of Canterbury, written by Robenia McKinley.

In 2015 and 2016, Anderson developed two webcomics: Onyx, a post-apocalyptic story in which survivors face the threat of a catastrophic virus, and VE Dead Breed, about a group of assassins. She also created a series highlighting Black women in comic book-themed genres that appeared in the 2017 Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco.

In 2015, Anderson was a featured artist in the New York Public Library's Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination, an exhibit exploring Black speculative imagination surrounding Afrofuturism, science fiction, horror, comics, magical realism, and fantasy. She also did artwork for the 2014 documentary film, The Czar of Black Hollywood, chronicling the early life and career of African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.

Anderson describes her artistic style as "million-in-one multistylized work" that is influenced by fine art, anime, comics, and cartoons alike. She most identifies with the story structures and character development of anime and manga, although her art itself does not have strong elements of the style.

Anyabwile, Dawud

(Feb. 6, 1965– )

Born in Philadelphia, PA

Rutgers University, 1983–34; Temple University, 1984

Storyboard artist, illustrator, and comic creator

Illustrator and cocreator of Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline

Although primarily known as a storyboard artist, Dawud Anyabwile is also the illustrator and cocreator of the comic series Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline and the illustrator of the graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Monster. He is a frequent collaborator with his brother Guy Sims, who wrote the scripts for both Monster and Brotherman.

In 1989, he began collaborating with Guy Sims to create the Brotherman series. This groundbreaking series showcased a hero of African American descent, Antonio Valor, working to combat social apathy in an embattled city. The series ran from 1992 until 1996, selling 750,000 copies without major distribution or publishing. It later won several Glyph Awards, including one for Best Artist.

The year the series ended, Anyabwile began working with Wanderlust Interactive on the Pink Panther computer games and with MTV on Daria. After moving to California, he worked in the animation department for Klasky Csupo for The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, later moving to Atlanta, Georgia, to do production design for Turner Studios, the owner of Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, HarperCollins and Scholastic. His credits include Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (2004), Level Up (2011), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017). In 2014, Anyabwile was the art director for the short Charged, which he both wrote and directed.

In 2015, Anyabwile and Sims adapted Walter Dean Myers's Monster, a novel about a teenager awaiting trial for murder, to graphic novel format. The work received praise for both its writing and illustration. Dawud Anyabwile has also developed an instructional video, Drawing From the Soul, to help artists unlearn the "proper" way to make art and focus on genuine expression. He developed this philosophy as a young man when he was challenged by his father to draw more Black people. Anyabwile couldn't understand why his drawing of African Americans looked so white until he realized that his primary education in drawing, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, had encouraged white-centric drawing styles that reflected neither himself nor his culture.

Dawud Anyabwile is the recipient of numerous comic and community service awards. In 1992, he was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Comic Book Artist at the San Diego Comic-Con, the same year he was granted the key to Kansas City, Missouri, for outstanding service to children. In 2008, he won an Emmy for conceptualizing a PSA for the Dalai Lama, and he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia in 2015. He has an artist archive at the Auburn Avenue Library on African American Culture and History in Atlanta, Georgia.

Armstrong, Robb

(March 4, 1962– )

Born in Wynnefield, PA

Syracuse University, BFA

Cartoonist and public speaker

Creator of JumpStart

Robb Armstrong is the creator of JumpStart, a comic strip that has appeared in more than 400 publications. Entered into syndication in 1989, JumpStart can be seen as a living memoir; the characters Joe Cobb, Marcy Cobb, and their children are a reflection of his family life. Part of his motivation, he has said, was to create a comic that depicts middle-class life, as Black youth in the media are so often depicted as poor and underserved.

Robb Armstrong grew up using cartooning as an escape from difficult realities. He witnessed many tragedies in his early life: Armstrong's father abandoned the family when he was only six, and the five fatherless children were brought up with little money to spend and little space to live in. His older brother was killed in an accident when he was still just six years old, and soon thereafter his mother died of cancer and his brothers suffered police brutality. By creating funny and light-hearted cartoons, he was able to live vicariously through his characters' easier lives.

Robb Armstrong published his autobiography, Fearless, in 2016. It offers cartooning tips as well as lessons from his upbringing. In a 2016 interview with the Hartford Examiner he said, "Suffering is the only thing we all have in common, but not everyone learns useful lessons from suffering. My book explores the value of hardship, and demonstrates how to use it for personal empowerment."

Besides being an accomplished cartoonist, Armstrong is also a public speaker. He has addressed the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and numerous educational institutions and large companies. He has also served as a visiting professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.

In 1995, Armstrong received the Wilbur Award for JumpStart from the Religion Public Relations Council and was honored with Nestlé's Men of Courage award. In 2012, the Holy Family University in Pennsylvania awarded him Honoris Causa, an honorary doctor of humane letters.

As of this writing, Robb Armstrong resides in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Crystal D. Armstrong, and two children.

Ayala, Vita

(March 1, 1985– )

Born in New York, NY

State University of New York, Potsdam

Comics and fiction writer

Alumna of DC Comics Writers Workshop, 2016

Vita Ayala is the coauthor of the independent comic Our Work Fills The Pews and has contributed scripts to several DC Comics titles.

She and her brother were raised in Alphabet City, also known as Manhattan's Lower East Side, in a blended home that hosted a number of neighborhood children, seven of whom she considered siblings. Ayala's early life helped her understand the complex dynamics of big groups, making her adept at writing about the arguments and compromises that arise from many clashing personalities. Her experience growing up in a predominantly Latino and Black neighborhood also influenced the development of her original story protagonists, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds.

As a person and an artist, Ayala was deeply influenced by her mother, Doris, and Doris's best friend, Ben Soto, who acted as a father figure to Ayala. Both were poets, bibliophiles, and storytellers who supported Ayala's creative pursuits.

Ayala first experienced racism at age five, when she was called the N-word for the first time. This experience, according to a 2016 interview, was also the first time Ayala "realized that an adult could be filled with disdain for [her] and not know [her] at all." This moment had a significant influence on Ayala's life and work.

Around the same time, Ayala was given the Fisher-Price version of 1,001 Arabian Nights. She was fascinated by how Scheherazade was such a powerful storyteller, "so powerful that she could tame the bloodlust of a man who singlehandedly murdered every woman in his kingdom and still wasn't satisfied," Ayala recalled in a 2016 interview. Ayala regarded Scheherazade as the real hero of 1,001 Arabian Nights, particularly appreciating that both Scheherazade and the other characters, like her, were brown.

Ayala procured her writing ability through sheer force of will, as she was at a kindergarten reading level until the fifth grade. At the time, she had just transferred from public school to Mary Help of Christians. Determined to catch up to the rest of her class, Ayala taught herself how to read The Giver, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Little Prince in a matter of three weeks. A few months later, she wrote her first story, a Xena: Warrior Princess fanfiction.

At age fifteen, Ayala was reinspired to write after her humanities teacher introduced her to Octavia Butler's Dawn, a book she cited in a 2016 interview as having "saved [her] life and forever changed how [she] looked at fiction and writing." That same year, Ayala realized she was gay, a pivotal moment in her personal and creative life. Up until then, she said, she "had a lot of trouble writing interpersonal relationships." After realizing this part of herself, she was able to "write from a truer place."

Around the same time, Vita Ayala met Erica Henderson, whose father's writing critiques would prove hugely influential to her. C. J. Henderson, a professional writer, was the first person to read her stories and offer constructive criticism.

As a college student at SUNY Potsdam, she was made acutely aware of her race as one of only fifty-four nonwhite students university-wide. This pushed her even further in her desire to write stories that represent herself and other people of color.

Ayala's identity as a queer woman of color permeates all of her nonfranchise stories. In Our Work Fills The Pews, to be published by Black Mask Studios in 2018, Ayala and cowriter Matt Rosenberg created the main character, Marcus Melville, a gay Black man. Ayala states that "[Marcus's] queerness is not just a part of his character, but an integral aspect of what drives the plot and informs how he navigates his strange and dangerous world." Marcus Melville's character arc illustrates what Ayala had seen and experienced as a queer person of color: frustration, oppression, and learned helplessness.

Ayala is also a 2016 alumna of the DC Comics Writers Workshop. This led to her work on Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Amanda Waller, The DC Talent Showcase, and The 2016 DC Holiday Special.

Baker, Clarence Matthew (Matt)

(Dec. 10, 1921–Aug. 11, 1959)

Born in Forsyth County, NC

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Cartoonist and illustrator

Illustrated Phantom Lady, Canteen Kate, Tiger Girl, and many others

Matt Baker was a Golden Age (1940s–50s) comics artist who is best known for his drawings of beautiful women, including the Golden Age character Phantom Lady, and as the artist for the early graphic novel It Rhymes with Lust. He is often credited as the first known African American artist to achieve heightened success in the Golden Age comic book industry.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Encyclopedia of Black Comics"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Sheena C. Howard.
Excerpted by permission of Fulcrum Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Henry Louis Gates,
Acknowledgments,
Introduction,
Entries A-Z,
Afterword by Christopher Priest,
Further Reading,
Select Bibliography,
About the Authors,

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