Calling for diversity in comics, both on the page and behind the scenes, has been a steadily growing movement. There have been blog posts, Twitter conversations, and numerous panels at conventions on this topic. Last February, @MizCaramelVixen started #BlackComicsMonth. The hashtag featured new and old black comics, characters, and creators. The big two comic companies are making strides in increasing diversity or at least small steps- hiring more people of color and women as writers and artists. I’m looking forward to Ta-Nehisi Coates writing Black Panther and Becky Cloonan writing Punisher later this year. That being said, there is an entire world of independent comics and webcomics we can support. Let’s put our money or our clicks where our principles are. I’m going to highlight a few Kickstarter campaigns for new and interesting books:
Tuskegee Heirs is a graphic novel created by writer, Greg Burnham, and illustrator, Marcus Williams. If you’re a fan of anime with teenagers saving the world in large machines, this is the book for you. As the title implies, these are a group of young, Black aviators. The book takes place 80 years in the future. Human piloting has become illegal. Kids being kids, they’re not going to let a little thing like the law stop them. They end up finding an old Tuskegee airfield and a veteran pilot to train them just in time for machines to try to take over the world. Now our young pilots are the only things that stand between them and success.
The Kickstarter is set to end on February 14th. The rewards include print and digital copies of the graphic novel, character dog tags, stickers, posters, and t-shirts.
Nothing I can say will do justice to explaining the genesis of this book like Kwanza’s own words:
“We identify with characters who are outsiders in society because they reflect things that are going on in the real world. The metaphors about race are obvious but in the world of the fantastic, mutants, meta humans, evos are not plausible depictions of demonized minorities. Most of these characters that are presented as outcasts-they can take off their masks, not use their powers, and live amongst normal society. Black folk don’t have that luxury. That’s when I had a thought: what if only black people had superpowers?”
Black is a 6 chapter, 120 page graphic novel created and written by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith. Jamal Igle is doing the interior art and Khary Randolph is doing the cover art. The cover- this young, Black kid in a red hoodie with his hands up, surrounded by guns – gave me chills. The main character, Kareem Jenkins is gunned down by the police. Unlike the majority of stories we see on social media that start just like this, he survives. He’s then recruited into a group of superheroes to help others in the same plight.
The Kickstarter ends on February 29th. Rewards include print and digital copies of the graphic novel, stickers, buttons, social media header and icons, and a cameo in the book.
Magical girls in college. Can you imagine trying to save the world while trying to pass your finals? Our five heroines are not only starting this new chapter in their life with college, they also discover they have powers. Black girls are literally magic is this book. Now they have to worry about keeping their grades up and fighting their evil professor. The author, Mildread Louis, cites magical girl anime like Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth as her inspiration. Louis has been publishing pages for Agents of the Realm twice a week since March 2014 on her website. The Kickstarter will gather chapter 1 in colorful softcover book.
The Kickstarter ends on March 2. Rewards include print and digital copies of the graphic novel, prints, postcards, and personalized bookplates.