11 Black comics writers to read, from DC to Marvel and beyond

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Black Panther Vol. 3 (Cover image via Marvel)

Christopher Priest

If you’re going to talk about Black comics writers, then you absolutely must start with Christopher Priest. By many metrics, he is the first Black comics writer, or certainly at least the first to get paid full-time for his work. He started work as a Marvel Comics intern in 1978, making his writing debut in 1983 on the first issue of the Falcon miniseries.

Just two years after writing the Falcon issue, Priest became the editor of the Spider-Man series from 1985 to 1986. Things started to sour with Marvel, however. Priest had multiple disputes with the company and it with him, including a run writing Power Man and Iron Fist that ended with Iron Fist’s death.

Eventually, Priest moved on to DC Comics, where he wrote for the Green Lantern series. Things didn’t stay quite so bad with Marvel, though, given that Priest eventually returned to write for series from Deadpool to Black Panther.

Priest hasn’t just written for the two biggest comics companies, however. He’s also the co-creator of a few more independent series, including the Valiant Comics series, Quantum and Woody. Priest was tapped as the series writer, along with artist M.D. Bright. Both Priest and Bright had worked on the Marvel superhero team-up, Power Man and Iron Fist.

Priest, however, was wary of creating an off-brand copy of his previous work, so Quantum and Woody became a comedy series. Uniquely, the white character, Woody, is employed as the comic relief in the team-up, being something of a vagabond loser for most of his life. Woody is the adoptive brother to Eric, who is by far the more straight-laced of the two.

The brothers are estranged for a long time, until the death of their father brings them together. They decide to investigate his murder, which leads to a lab accident, superpowers, and, ultimately, a goat sidekick named Vincent Van Goat.

Quantum and Woody is a comedy series that, thanks to Priest’s work, doesn’t skimp on a social consciousness or good writing. Sure, take some time to dive into his work with Marvel and DC, but you may be even better off starting with Priest’s more independent work.