5 black comic book makers, 5 visions of this superhero age
Writer on “Judge Dredd”, “Transformers” and “Mr. Miracle”
About the industry: There is less reluctance now to hire proven color designers in this industry. It hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when only TV screenwriters and film writers like Reginald Hudlin and Dwayne McDuffie could even come close.
The independent scene has always had a lot of black designers. It’s just that they don’t have the marketing budget that Marvel or DC or any of the other big companies have. So, right now, there is an ongoing renaissance taking place since the early 2000s of independent black creators. This is where a lot of creativity and a lot of excitement can be found.
There has been significant progress pretty much since the release of the movie “Black Panther”. It was a watershed moment for black designers in particular. It showed the powers that be that having characters of color, especially black ones, can be financially profitable. Really, the only thing that makes a difference in the world is money. No one cares about social responsibility and social justice. What interests them is the result.
The evolution of black superheroes: There is a movement to keep black superheroes away from crime. In the past, many black heroes were Reform pimps and Reform criminals. People like Luke Cage and even the Falcon, in the past they weren’t decent human beings overall – they became heroes later on. Now they can just be people with powers. Ordinary people or a scientist – someone who was not on the wrong side of the law. It’s a societal shift, not just in the comics, where the characters are no longer just based on crime. Overall, when you walk away from crime shows, you see a broader portrayal of black people, and that gets filtered right down to the comics.
Influences: Guys like Dwayne McDuffie. Christophe Priest. People like Spike Lee and John Singleton. Bill Duke. People like that were extremely inspiring to meet because they were black men telling black stories that weren’t always rooted in black pain and hostility.
Preferred color character: Mockingbird of the night.