comic history

Art by Francesco Francavilla

First African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.
The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots. #BlackHistoryMonth #Day10

The Tuskegee are also the subject of DREAMING EAGLES, a new series published by Aftershock Comics and written by Garth Ennis with art by Simon Coleby (I’m doing the covers). You should def check it out!



Profiles in Black Cartooning: Orrin C. Evans and All-Negro Comics

In celebration of Black History Month, CBLDF has partnered with Black Nerd Problems to spotlight Black comics creators and cartoonists who made significant contributions to free expression. Visit throughout the month of February to learn more!

If you were to call Orrin C. Evans bold in the pursuits he enjoyed in his life, it would be like saying the monuments in Egypt are bigger than average. More than that, Evans’ life work wasn’t so much being bold as it was surviving the best way he knew how. A man whom The New York Times proclaimed “The Dean of Black Reporters,” Evans rose to a position of becoming one of the first comic book writers as an outsider to comics himself and stepped into a limelight that had scarcely seen his like.

Read more!

Just a follow up on the submission about Sam’s history in comics. 

What makes it worse is that Sam didn’t start out with the whole drugs background. From his first appearance in ‘69, he was shown to be a good guy that just wanted to help. Then Steve Englehart came along in 1975 and the whole ’Pimp retcon’ happened. So they actually changed Sam’s history to introduce the mess that was Snap Wilson and it’s racist stereotypes. 

In the fairly recent All-New Captain America, they’ve retconned his history again so that the whole ‘Snap’ Wilson bullshit is now something that was put out there by HYDRA/Red Skull and that ilk in an effort to discredit and belittle him as he fought against them.


I’m really glad they did away with the Englehart retcon. But yeah when I first found out about Snap Wilson I was also livid. I just hate that the Englehart retcon was allowed to exist in the first place.

mod m

The Classic Comic Project

At a faculty meeting eight years ago, James came up with a harebrained idea: to kick off the spring semester with a project that would employ the assembly-line production methods of mainstream comics publishers, complete with real-world deadline. The students would be broken up into “bullpens,” each comprised of 5-6 students and a faculty member acting as editor-in-chief. We would choose a specific year from comics history to use as a model for genre and visual style, and each team would be tasked with producing a 24-page, full-color comic book, from start to finish, in a two-week span.

The picture above shows the fruits (and for some alumni they are bitter, bitter fruits indeed) of eight years of what was first dubbed the Golden Age Project, then the Silver Age Project, and now—as we have jumped around quite a bit between 1940 and 1970—is simply called the Classic Comic Project. Seeing them all laid out like that always makes me thing of Charlie Brown uttering this line:

It’s an amazing, inspiring, grueling, intense 14 days, and a certain kind of miracle in the end, when you hold the finished product in your hands. The in-class critique of these comics is always a little hard, because everyone has busted their butts and pulled out all the stops to reach that finish line, and they are usually far more cognizant of whatever errors made it into print than anyone else. So send good vibes to the CCS class of 2017 as they sit down for the Classic Comic crit today!

This year’s entries, produced by that class, are SCIENCE TEAM O.V.E.R.A.L.L.S. and SPACE SCOUNDRELS, both of which are modeled on adventure comics circa 1957. And here are some spectacular page spreads from those fine funnybooks:

SCIENCE TEAM O.V.E.R.A.L.L.S., by Jacob Bussiere, Hedj, Emily Sillars, Robyn-Brooke Smith, and Steve Thueson, under the whip-cracking direction of Editor-in-Chief Stephen R. Bissette.

SPACE SCOUNDRELS, by Sandra Bartholomew, Moss Bastille, Catherine Garbarino, Jarad Greene, Laura Martin, and Kristen Rosa, under the cigar-smoking behest of Editor-in-Chief Jason Lutes.

The History of Oracle

Our story begins in 1988, with the publication of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.

In this graphic novel, the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon. He then photographs her naked and wounded, all as an attempt to drive her father insane, thereby proving to Batman that anyone can be morally compromised. Although events in The Killing Joke exert a great impact on the character, the story has little to do with her. She is employed as a plot device to cement the Joker’s vendetta against Commissioner Gordon and Batman. Moore stated that prior to writing the graphic novel, “I asked DC if they had any problem with me crippling Barbara Gordon—who was Batgirl at the time—and… [they] said, ‘Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.’”

Barbara had retired as a hero in a Batgirl Special earlier that year by Barbara Kesel, specifically to pave the way for The Killing Joke. The idea was to give her a quick presence before the Killing Joke so that the event would have more of an “impact,” as it were.

Almost immediately, Kim Yale had a problem with The Killing Joke. Yale discussed how distasteful she found the treatment of Barbara Gordon with her husband, fellow comic writer John Ostrander. Rather than allow the character to fall into obscurity, the two decided to revive her as a character living with a disability. As Ostrander recalls, “There were no plans for her in the continuity at that time. We decided that if that happened, we weren’t just going to make her better magically — we wanted to explore what happened when someone like her was crippled and how she would respond.”

In late 1988, Oracle made her first appearance, but only as the name “Oracle,” a hacker who aided the Suicide Squad, in Suicide Squad #23.

Oracle aided the Squad for the next year, with hints given to their identity piling up. Additionally, Oracle started appearing in Manhunter, which was also written by Ostrander and Yale.

Finally, in Suicide Squad #38, in early 1990, Oracle was revealed to the readers as Barbara Gordon!

After that, Barbara laid low for most of 1990, making a few appearances in various titles, such as Ostrander’s Firestorm and Roger Stern’s Starman (plus a quick appearance in Batman #451, reacting to the return of the Joker, believed dead after Jason Todd’s death), but she made a big return in Suicide Squad #48, when Amanda Waller saves Barbara from the psychotic new Thinker, and asks Barbara (who she knows as the alias Amy Beddoes) to join the Squad full-time.

Barbara accepts.

At about the same time, Barbara Kesel became the first writer other than Ostrander and Yale to use this new take on Barbara Gordon extensively, as Kesel brought Barbara to the pages of Hawk & Dove to resolve some old plots from the Batgirl backups that Kesel used to write in Detective Comics.

Soon after, Barbara, for a time, even became the leader of the Suicide Squad when Amanda Waller became incapacitated.

However, when Suicide Squad folded in early 1992, Barbara’s future was in real doubt.

Luckily, she had a new patron, one who would shape her destiny dramatically for the next decade. Later in 1992, Denny O’Neil introduced the concept of Oracle being Batman’s main source of information in the pages of Sword of Azrael #1, which was the biggest mini-series of that year, giving Barbara a nice shot of exposure.

However, she still did not have a high profile for the next year (she made an appearance in two issues of the Hacker Files series, but that would be expected, as it was a series about hackers).

Significantly, though, if only in retrospect, Oracle did make an appearance in an issue of Black Canary! It was only as a way for Huntress to come into contact with Nightwing in order to save a captured Black Canary, but still, looking back, that appearance is interesting.

Barbara’s next big appearance was in Detective Comics #680, where Robin uses Oracle for information for the first time (that issue was written by Chuck Dixon, which is significant because, as you may know, once Dixon has decided to use a concept, he is committed to that concept for years). This began the trend of Batman writers using Oracle more and more frequently, but surprisingly the character still did not appear very much over the next two years, only making appearances every other month or so (in Dixon comics, mostly).

This would change with 1996’s Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey one-shot (by, who else, Chuck Dixon), which came out the same summer that John Ostrander and Kim Yale conspired to tell the origin of Oracle in Batman Chronicles #5 – “Oracle: Year One.”

This was the last story that Ostrander and Yale worked on together, as Yale was battling breast cancer. In fact, just writing that one story was a struggle for her, but in retrospect, it is one of the strongest issues that John and Kim ever did together.

Kim Yale passed away in 1997 at the age of 43.

She lived long enough to see Oracle: Year One published and the launch of Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey mini-series, as well as Barbara becoming a major part of the Batverse during the Contagion crossover of 1996.

Gail Simone, who has written Barbara for years, sums it up wonderfully:

“Kim Yale and John Ostrander picked up the character and made her into a brilliant master computer operator and one of the most fascinating characters in comics. From there, Chuck Dixon did wonderful things with her in his Birds of Prey run … She’s fantastic because even just sitting in a chair in a dark room by herself, she’s tremendously compelling. The DCU without her would be a much less interesting place.“



Bass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth, Vol 1  (2014)

Bass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth tells the story of Bass Reeves, an escaped slave who became one of the most successful lawman of the old west and the rumored inspiration for The Lone Ranger. Volume I chronicles his life from winning shooting matches in early childhood to traveling with his master, living with Native Americans in Indian Territory, and finally becoming a Deputy US Marshal.

Story and art by Joel Christian Gill  

Get the book now here

Joel Christian Gill is the chairman, CEO, president, director of development, majority and minority stock holder, manager, co-manager, regional manager, assistant to the regional manager, receptionist, senior black correspondent, and janitor of Strange Fruit Comics.

In his spare time he is the chair of foundations at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and member of The Boston Comics Roundtable.

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As awesomecon 2015 wraps up, check out these vintage comics an archivist at usnatarchives recently came across:

During World War II, George Hecht contacted the Division of Education Services of the Office of War Information (OWI) about printing comic books aimed at African Americans in order to include and encourage their participation in the war efforts.

Hecht sent in examples of his work, including tear sheets from a biographical story of Marian Anderson, which highlighted Anderson’s rising fame and her generosity to American servicemen. Another set of tear sheets included a biographical story on Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber.”

Images from “Touch of Genius,” Calling All Girls [copyright, Parents Magazine Press, August 1945]; and True Comics #5, “The Brown Bomber” [copyright: Parents’ Magazine Press, October 1941].

Read more at: Rediscovering Black History » Record of the Week: African-American Comics During World War II


100 Illustrators that all Illustrators should know: #17

Winsor McCay (1871-1934)

Country: United States

Famous for: Little Nemo in Slumberland, Gertie the Dinosaur, Political cartoons

Influenced: Disney, Carl Barks, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Ron Cobb, Maurice Sendak, Berke Breathed

Influenced by: Alphonse Mucha, Art Nouveau, Poetry, Albrecht Durer, Gustave Doré

Winsor McCay was an American illustrator, cartoonist and animator, most well known for his comic-strip series, Little Nemo. He became a master of linear perspective, as evidenced by his comics and cartoons, and he also experimented with page layout and panel layout quite a bit. Few other comics would try to be as bold and experimental as his until comic illustrators like Hal Foster and Roy Crane came into popularity. McCay was also an early animation guru, creating such films as Gertie the Dinosaur and The Sinking of the Lusitania. In the field of animation, he pioneered the use of techniques such as inbetweening and cycling, which became industry standards from that point forward. He was a very ambitious artist and completed 10 animated films of his own between 1911 and 1921. 

With Avengers: Age of Ultron coming out today, I thought it would be a great opportunity to remind everyone that Stan Lee’s inspiration for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) was  U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement).

Stan Lee to HitFix:

HitFix: You’ve created so many characters and so many worlds over so many decades. How vividly do you actually remember the creation and the genesis of this S.H.I.E.L.D. world?

Stan Lee: I remember it very clearly! There had been a television show called “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and I thought to myself, “We ought to do a script that had that same feeling.” U.N.C.L.E. was this secret organization and there were two stars in the show and they went out on all sorts of great assignments from U.N.C.L.E. I forget what the initials “U.N.C.L.E.” So I came up with S.H.I.E.L.D. - Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law enforcement Division. [He laughs.] I think they have since changed that a little bit, but that was the original meaning of S.H.I.E.L.D. We had this character, Sergeant Fury, who had been a sergeant in World War II, and we had a book called “Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos.” He was the head of a group of tough commandos and it was a very successful comic book for a number of years, but eventually I stopped doing it, because we stopped doing war stories. But fans would always say to me, “What happened to to Sergeant Fury? Where is he? What is he doing now?” So I thought, “Wow, if I do a script like ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,’ if I get a secret organization, why not put Sergeant Fury at the head of it? But by now, he’ll be colonel!” I loved that idea. so he was the star, Colonel Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jack and I had a lot of fun doing the S.H.I.E.L.D. stories. We’d come up with the wildest ideas we could think of and away we went.

Stan Lee to IGN:

IGN: You were there for the beginning of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lee: Well, I’m glad they invited me, because I did the first S.H.I.E.L.D. story in the comics with Jack Kirby. I love the whole concept of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I don’t know if you’d remember, but years ago, there was a television show called The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and U.N.C.L.E. was a secret organization and so forth. I got the idea for S.H.I.E.L.D. from U.N.C.L.E.. I thought it’d be great to have an organization like that, but because we were doing comic books, I’d make it bigger and more colorful and more far out. We had a book called Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, which we stopped publishing after awhile. The fans would wonder, “What happened to Sgt. Fury? Where is he now?” So it occurred to me that if I did this group S.H.I.E.L.D., why not put Sergeant Fury at the head of it, except he’d now be a Colonel. So he’d be Colonel Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – and that’s how it all started. I loved the idea, and I’m so glad that it’s a TV series. As it moves along, I hope it just gets wilder and wilder.


Boxers & Saints (2013)   //  First Second Books.

China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from “foreign devils.”

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils” - Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Boxers & Saints is an innovative new graphic novel in two volumes - the parallel stories of two young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his clear-eyed storytelling and trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion and lays bare the foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith.

By Gene Luen Yang, color: Lark Pien 

Get it now here  

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1st Panel
Jazmine DuBois: Why aren’t you coming to our cookout on the fourth?

Huey Freeman: I don’t know if your parents told you this, Jazmine, but we weren’t freed on independence day.

2nd Panel
Huey Freeman: Apparently one of the rights America won from the British was the right to hold slaves and oppress others. I see little reason to celebrate.

3rd Panel

4th Panel
Jazmine DuBois: Oh, you can find the downside to anything.

Huey Freeman: Like chattel slavery? Yeah, I guess I’m just funny that way

you guys want to observe a bit about changes in style within th same franchise ? Or how plots/designs change depending on time period ?

three words : Sonic The Hedgehog.

This comic has been going on since 1992, before i was even born, and is still ongoing to this DAY. it is the longest running comic based off not just a video game, but a single franchise period. It has 279 issues to date unincluding spin-offs such as Sonic Universe, Sonic X, Knuckles the Echidna, etc. 

But more to th point, how each one looks.  Th style varies HEAVILY.

Just….i’m sorry for making this so long but please check out th variance. 

please look to these comics when studying cartoon history i think they’re actually really important in stylization, figuring out which is best, and not being afraid to change ! ((uhh also they’re really fucking cool i fuckign love sonic))