Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books

Ken Quattro. Yoe, $34.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-68405-586-9
Eighteen African American comics creators receive overdue hero treatment in this collection that documents their essential roles in the rise of graphic pulp literature within the struggle for Black equality in postwar America. Quattro (who blogs at The Comics Detective) skillfully compiles comprehensive profiles of each creator with excerpts of their work in a variety of genres. Black artists, he notes, entered the golden-age world of pulp magazines and comics as outsiders filling the talent void left by white artists drafted into the war, often anonymously producing white jungle heroes and buxom women. Matt Baker, then a rising star, broke the mold by drawing tribal hero Voodah as a Black man, despite his pale appearance on the covers. Philadelphia journalist Orrin C. Evans and an all-Black team of creators delivered greater progress with the authentic strips and bold heroes of All-Negro Comics in 1947. Other standouts include Adolphe Barreaux, who passed as white and became a socialite and illustrator of sexy heroines, and Elmer Stoner and Robert Pious, who were noted painters among the Harlem Renaissance elite before becoming breakthrough pulp pencillers. Quattro grants African American newspapers special credit for publishing Black-created strips in support of the “Double V” campaign for wartime racial justice. Dogged research and choice archival reprints make this volume an essential reference for pop culture history. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 11/13/2020
Release date: 09/15/2020
Genre: Comics
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