Superheroes and Trailblazers: Black Comic Book Artists, Rediscovered

Superheroes and Trailblazers: Black Comic Book Artists, Rediscovered

A new book examines the lives of these trailblazers, who paved the way for subsequent generations of illustrators but were invisible to the mainstream in their own time. …

Many of the artists Mr. Quattro profiles settled in New York City after moving from the South in the Great Migration of the early 20th century. Others were part of the Harlem Renaissance or got their start during World War II, providing diversity in an industry before it was a company goal. “Wartime provided a crack in a wall that these men may never have hurdled otherwise,” Mr. Quattro writes. Often their creations were white characters aimed at a white audience; especially in the South, comic book covers with a Black character would not be placed on newsstands. …

“I rarely saw people who looked like me in comic books,” said William H. Foster III, a comic book historian and retired professor whose 2005 book, “Looking for a Face Like Mine,” explores the portrayal of Black people in the comics. “You could have African characters, but never African-Americans.”

By Helene Stapinski, The New York Times

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