t’s a lot easier nowadays to find BIPOC authors in comic books than it would have been twenty, thirty, forty, years ago. And while there is still much work to be done in terms of diversity in the industry, luckily there are a lot of writers making strides.
Of course, there are writers at the big two publishers, DC and Marvel, churning out awesome content with the characters that you love in new worlds and new situations, but there are some indie titles that should capture your attention as well.
The best thing about comics is that the stories told can be from anywhere, and about anything, merging genres and political and social issues into literal art.
These black comic writers are holding nothing back, and neither should you. Don’t be afraid to step right into the deep end with their work and get into exploring some new titles. All of the writers on this list have various awards in comics, publishing, and film.
Their expertise can speak for itself, so get to reading, and let the stories take you in.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- N.K. Jemisin
- Nnedi Okorafor
- David Walker
- Vita Ayala
- Christopher Priest
The unquestionable king of comics at the moment, Ta-Nehisi Coates has only just started making waves in comics with his critically acclaimed runs of Black Panther and Captain America, but he’s been a writer of importance since the mid-2010s.
Coates has had a prolific career writing as a journalist for The Atlantic as well as publishing a critically acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America and a recent work of fiction The Water Dancer just two of many authorial successes.
Comic fans though will probably know him for his run as the head writer of the Black Panther series run from 2016 to 2018. The first volume in this series, “A Nation Under Our Feet” tells the story of a fractured Wakanda pulled apart by revolutionaries, and T’Challa’s attempt to keep the country together after dealing with a deluge of personal tragedies.
It’s one of the best modern comic series to be reading, an absolute must-read for any Black Panther fan. Coates has also gotten to work on Captain America as well, expanding his marvel repertoire to the star-spangled man himself.
N.K. Jemisin has some serious writing chops, she’s the first and only winner of three consecutive Best Novel awards at the Hugos for her sci-fi fantasy The Broken Earth trilogy. Luckily Jemisin decided to extend her skills to the comic world with the Far Sector series, starring a new green lantern.
In this DC series, we follow Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, a green lantern who’s taken up residence in a galactic supercity that hosts 20 million residents.
Jo’s run as green lantern has all the science fiction and superhero antics that comic fans love, but with an air of mystery and intrigue drawn into it as well by Jemisin’s writing.
Jemisin as well doesn’t shy away from more touchy issues in the comic. Part of Jo’s journey as a green lantern comes from her background as a cop after she was fired from the NYPD around the time of the Black Lives Matter protests.
The most recent winner for the “Best Graphic Story or Novel” Hugo for her graphical novel “LaGuardia” Nnedi Okarafor is just getting started in the comics world, writing for Marvel as well as independent stories of her own.
“LaGuardia” for those interested in her independent story focuses on a society of integrated humans and aliens where a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor smuggles an alien plant through the infamous LaGuardia international airport in Queens. It’s an absolute must-read for the year.
But Okorafor has also cut her comic chops with Marvel where she’s written for the “Shuri” series, detailing the trials and tribulations of the Wakandan princess after her brother T’Challa disappeared from Earth, leaving Wakanda in her hands.
Nnedi Okorafor is a proud writer of Afrofuturism and her comic works sparkle with her passion and creativity for the genre. For book lovers, you should also check out her “Binti” series, currently being adapted into a show on Hulu, for more sci-fi craziness in space.
David Walker certainly has a resume fit for a comic-book king, with plenty of works held at Marvel, DC, Dynamite Entertainment, and BOOM comics. But he’s also produced and created films as well. Walker has been in the industry a while, a giant that can’t be missed.
For Marvel and DC Walker has written for Luke Cage and Cyborg to name a few each and every run something that you should be checking out. However, Walker also has plenty of original comics that you might want to give a look to first.
His series “Bitterroot” with Image comics can’t be ignored, centers on the lives of monster hunters who are living in the Harlem Renaissance, with a movie currently in the works from Black Panther director Ryan Coogler.
Walker is also one of the writers behind a new superhero at DC comics, Naomi, who despite only having had two years in the DC print under her belt has already established herself at the center of the universe’s shenanigans.
Vita Ayala is one of the best up-and-coming comics writers in the industry, hands down. They’ve had great success especially in their run of independent comics like “Livewire” and “The Wilds”.
“Livewire”, published by Valiant, is one of the greatest superhero stories of the year 2020 very reminiscent of the X-Men stories told by Marvel. The protagonist, Amanda McKee, finds herself on the run from the government after blowing out the US’s power system in an attempt to protect her fellow “power” gifted brethren.
And “The Wilds” is that beautiful rendered post-apocalyptic story that you’ve been searching for, complete with life-rendering plagues and warring city-states. It’s a story of love and survival, full of all the bloody goriness that lovers of post-apocalyptic fiction love but with a surprising tenderness as well.
After you check out these comics make sure to give a read to Ayala’s works with Marvel and DC, where they’ve written for the News Mutants and a run for Supergirl.
Christopher Priest, often credited just as “Priest”, has been working in the comic industry for a long time. He was the first African-American comic editor to work for a big-name comic company in the late 1970s and he’s been producing quality content ever since.
Priest got his start with comics writing for “Conan the Barbarian” but gained more traction writing for Sam Wilson aka the “Falcon” in the 80s. Since then Priest has written for countless more titles at Marvel and at DC as well handling characters like the Green Lantern and Black Panther.
He took a hiatus from comics about ten years ago but came back to write for the DC baddie Deathstroke in DC’s rebirth initiative.
Priest has many fingers in many pies in the industry and is very well deserved, when looking for one of his works to read anything to your taste will be a good option.
Hopefully, by getting into the works of these six comic creators you’ll also open doorways to the works of other black comic writers. There are plenty out there who haven’t had so much exposure, but their stories are just as riveting.
Whether it’s a comic for Marvel or DC or a more independent publisher these writers have a plethora of imagination and storytelling yet to be told. Captain America or Black Panther, modern-day NYC, or a post-apocalyptic road trip they’ve got it for you here.
Do you have a favorite black comic book writer? Be sure to comment, like, and share!
Image courtesy of syfy.com