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New Encyclopedia of Black Comics Is a Peek Into the World of Black Comic Culture

Black Comics
The encyclopedia features over 100 biographies on Black artists, writers and publishers. (Image courtesy of Amazon)

The newly published Encyclopedia of Black Comics (Fulcrum, 2017) is something the world has never seen before.

That’s because nothing like it existed before Rider University professor Sheena C. Howard co-wrote and edited the literary ode to Black comic book creators and other noted African-American creatives.

“It’s not just about comics,” said Howard, the first Black female winner of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. “It’s the history of journalism, history of print newspapers, history of online media and social media.”

The 280-page encyclopedia features over 100 short biographies on African-American artists and writers, including 1940s “Krazy Kat” comic creator George Herriman; Jackie Ormes, the first Black woman with a nationally syndicated cartoon; and “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder, according to Newsworks.

The encyclopedia also celebrates comic convention creators like Yumy Odom of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and Jason Richardson, creator of the anime and gaming convention J1-Con. Then there are artists who might not fit neatly into any one category but made notable achievements within Black comic book culture.

The topics explored in Howard’s new encyclopedia illustrate “the astonishing power of comic books and graphic novels to reflect the diversity that defines the Black American experience,” literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote in his forward.

Most, but not all, of the artists featured in Howard’s book created political content with in-your-face themes about racial identity, Newsworks reported. The communications professor could not tackle the encyclopedia’s various subjects all on her own, however. Howard said she coordinated a team of 50 writers to help assemble the featured biographies.

“Most of the entries in this book are written by people who knew the people they are writing about, or worked with the people. That ensured the accuracy of the content,” she said. “A lot of people who wrote the entries interviewed the people they wrote about.”

The Encyclopedia of Black Comics is now available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or online at Amazon.com.

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