Creators Assemble: Meet the Faces Behind the New Black Superheroes
With all the hype and excitement boiling over for Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ Black Panther release for the streets today, it seems that black comic book characters are finally getting the just due that they deserve. A full-blown renaissance is happening right before our eyes, which is super exciting for a lover of graphic novels such as us here at OKP. Whether it is witnessing the life of a Muslim Ms. Marvel; seeing Steve Rogers step down to give black-arse Sam Wilson the Captain America mantle or witnessing DC Comics’ Vixen guest-starring on Arrow — the opportunities for black comic characters is awe-inspiring.
This is important to note because for decades many of the best-known black characters were the work of white writers and artists. And even though these major acts are now in the hands of men-and-women of color (we see you, Sana Amanat!) — the next generation of black superheroes are emanating from black creators who can tell our stories and come up with unique scenarios. From Erika Alexander‘s Concrete Park to Ashley A. Woods‘ Niobe to Paul Louise-Julie‘s The Pack to Anthony Piper‘s Trill League — black people and black artists in particular are leaving their mark on comics and comic book culture.
As we celebrate the street-release of Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Black Panther run with Brian Stelfreeze — count yourself lucky, dear reader, because we are going to introduce you to some other new black superheroes and their creators. So, take a walk with us on the wild side, as we highlight the developing and thrilling work with black comic writers and artists. You ready? Let’s go!
David F. Walker
Longtime comic readers and nerds are familiar with the works and talents of David F. Walker. With stints at Marvel, DC Comics and Dynamite Comics — to name a few — this masterful creative is an award-winning writer, author, filmmaker, journalist and educator. In 2015, Walker won multiple Glyph Awards for his efforts on such books as Power Man and Iron Fist, Nighthawk, Secret Wars: Battleworld and The Army of Dr. Moreau (IDW/Monkeybrain Comics).
His leadership behind-the-scenes has enabled his contemporaries to break out and become name-recognized fixtures in the comic book community. And while for those who are just getting acquainted might know him best from his DC Comics run behind the revamped Cyborg — Walker also gained numerous admirers for his work behind Dynamite Comics’ Shaft series and Shaft’s Revenge novel. Walker’s most recent book, Becoming Black: Personal Ramblings on Racial Identification, Racism and Popular Culture is certainly an important piece of literature to have in one’s library.
The first time this magnanimous mind ever created something that resonated with an audience was a publication he worked on himself titled, BadAzz MoFo. “I started publishing it twenty years ago and it led me down a path that would change my life. Prior to BadAzz MoFo, David energetically explored various aspects of creativity. “From film to live theater to stand-up comedy to now, most recently, comic books — I had different times with different creative endeavors.” Blessed with an active pen-game, plus the skill of creating nuanced characters — David F. Walker is one of many who are just now getting the attention his talent deserves.
Inspired by his love of comics since a young boy, David was already honing those talents by writing and drawing his own comics. “I was going to become a great comic book artist, and maybe a writer,” he said during our e-mailed conversation. “But life seldom goes the way we plan.” By overcoming obstacles such as self-doubt, self-hatred, insecurity, rejection, death, poverty and ignorance — David hardened his armor to withstand all and any pitfalls that were to jump out at him in the comic book industry.
Last month, comic book lovers of all ages hyped from the then-soon-return of Netflix’s Daredevil series, had Power Man and Iron Fist to tide them over. With their live-action counterparts soon to arrive on the binge-watching service, David F. Walker’s counterpart revived the “Heroes For Hire” partnership and element some unique elements to their lives. David has always been a personal favorite and for others within the industry, he is looked at like a relatable big brother. His style, smarts, skill and suaveness in person (and in the books) makes him fill a void that is ever-present in the comic book community.
“I try to create work that I would want to read,” he admits. “I’m not sure if it is my place to say whether or not it fills avoid, but I do know that I’m interested in writing comics that help to give black characters a greater sense of depth and dimension. In doing so, I hope to help reassert some of the humanity that is denied to us as a matter of course. Honestly, though, if it is filling a void, I believe that that must be determined by the readers and the fans.”