Black Independent Comics on a Rise

Posted by LauraDerb on February 21st, 2021

While I can't say I've been a lifelong fan of superhero comics (I started when I was eight years old and have been sober for five years longer than that! ), I have come to appreciate the resilience and originality of black indie comics. For a comic connoisseur, this can be confusing: on one hand, comics made by and for white and Caucasian people are called "comics." On the other hand, these comic books often deal with issues and themes that are more complex and multicultural, and thus, not "white" in the classic sense of the word.

The confusion over the term "comic" is compounded by the fact that most of the lines of comics produced are targeted for a contemporary marketplace - that is, a market composed primarily of young people who live in large urban centers and who are members of various groups influenced by popular culture. These people tend to identify as "post-racial," and have a wide range of definitions for the qualities that characterize them. In a highly cosmopolitan and urbanized area like San Francisco, one can find people who insist that Asian people are people of color, and others who insist black Americans are black people. Even comic stores can get this kind of dynamic.

As an example, Diamond Comics and Barnes & Noble both have a line of African-American superheroes. But these aren't truly comics, even though they're marketed as such. In fact, they might as well be collections of collected comic-book pages. The reality is that selling comics containing any kind of violence, hate speech or foul language is simply not a smart business model for any indie comic review.

Still, some companies have recognized the potential in this market, and they try to broaden their product lines by including a few black or African American characters. Two of the biggest players in this field are Marvel and DC, which have been publishing comic books for many years now. However, even within these companies there are divisions. Marvel has its "black comic" line, while DC has their" multicultural" line of superheroes. Now, the difference between these two giants of superhero publishing is somewhat fuzzy.

In a way, it's sort of a mixed bag. On one hand, Marvel has long enjoyed a much higher popularity than DC, so it's logical that a part of their overall catalogue will cater to black readers and writers/artists. The truth is that a lot of the best black independent comics have never really made it to the big time. This is probably a result of their lack of mainstream appeal.

However, there are also many great black independent comics produced by talented black writers and artists. These comics often get ignored by the major publishers, but they've proven to be some of the most interesting and creative comics being released today. The best example of this is the Black Panther series by Bendis and illustrated by superstar Steve Bisschoff. The book has drawn both black and white characters and did a fantastic job of telling a classic story from a color perspective.

Another great example of an excellent black independent comic that doesn't receive the coverage it deserves is Spider-Man. Bendis had nothing to do with this comic, but he created a dynamic character that still enjoys a huge following today. Bendis is responsible for more than 60% of the audience for Spider-Man comics now. He is also responsible for giving Marvel comics a strong sense of attitude and identity. His take on the comic made Peter Parker a beloved comic book hero and made Marvel Comics much more interesting and unique. Bendis' work on the comics has been essential in making Spider-Man into what he is today.

So while there's still quite a bit of work to be done in black independent comics, they're certainly getting the spotlight now. Bendis, who is black, has a unique opportunity to shine in this field due to his background as an artist. It remains to be seen what he can do, but if we're going to invest any hope in these comics, it will be Bendis and those artists who continue to make their mark on black independent comics.

Like it? Share it!


About the Author

Joined: October 25th, 2017
Articles Posted: 2,004

More by this author