Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.
In today’s post, I’ll be recommending a number of graphic novels/comics with Black main characters. I hope you enjoy this post!
1. Karmzah by Faridah Bedwei & Leti Arts
Where it all began…Morowa Adjei is an archaeologist with cerebral palsy, who gets superpowers from an ancient Juju man, thus becoming a superheroine. When Morowa accidentally breaks a jar discovered in an excavation in Mali, she inadvertently frees a medicine man who has been trapped there for over 5,000 years. He bestows upon her superpowers through her crutches and sends her to rescue an oil magnate’s son who has been kidnapped whilst holidaying with friends.
2. Shuri: The Search for Black Panther. Vol. 1 by Nnedi Okorafor, Illustrated by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire.
The world fell in love with her in Marvel’s Black Panther. Now, T’Challa’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner Award-nominated artist Leonardo Romero! T’Challa has disappeared, and everyone is looking at the next in line for the throne. Wakanda expects Shuri to take on the mantle of Black Panther once more and lead their great nation — but she’s happiest in a lab, surrounded by her own inventions. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them down! So it’s time for Shuri to go rescue her brother yet again — with a little help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, of course! But when her outer-space adventure puts the entire cultural history of her continent at risk from an energy-sapping alien threat, can Shuri and Iron Man save Africa?
3. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Series
4. The Girl Who Married A Skull : and Other African Stories by Kel McDonald
Have you heard the one about the skull who borrowed body parts to pass himself off as a complete human so he could trick the village beauty into marriage? Well, what about when Frog and Snake’s daughters had a play date? Okay, okay. But surely you’ve heard the story about the crocodiles who held a vote on whether or not to eat a man that had saved one of their lives? NO? Wow. Have we got some stories for you
(Sidenote: I’m really excited to read this one because the story of Ori and Olajumoke (the skull and the beauty) was one of my favourite cautionary tales as a child.)
5. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator)
Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.
Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .
What if their last shift was an adventure?
6. Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn’t long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it’s too late?
Readers will be over the moon for this rollicking space adventure by debut author Molly Brooks.
7. Field Trip (Sanity & Tallulah #2) by Molly Brooks
Sanity and Tallulah are going on a field trip-to a real live planet! Some of their classmates are nervous (none of them have been on a planet before, and they’ve heard terrible things), but Tallulah is beside herself with excitement. Sanity would be more excited if her grumpy older sister, Prudence, wasn’t coming along to supervise the trip. Things get off to a rocky start (asteroid-y start, to be specific) and Sanity and Tallulah find themselves separated from their school group, pursued by a pirate, and stranded on a planet that’s about to explode, with nothing but the wreckage of a crashed space shuttle and the contents of Tallulah’s overloaded backpack to work with. These best friends will have to stretch their problem-solving skills to the limit in order to get everyone home safe, and it’s going to take their whole class-plus an accountant, a math hermit, a group of mysterious beekeepers, and even the murderous pirate-to make it happen.
This second adventure in the Sanity & Tallulah series by Molly Brooks is out of this world!
8. Quincredible Vol. 1 by Rodney Barnes, Selina Espiritu & Kelly Fitzpatrick
“This is woke comics at its very best.” — The Beat
Invulnerability is a pretty useless superpower if you’ve only got a one-hundred pound frame to back it up. That’s what Quinton West’s life became when he went from small guy who got beat up to small guy who can’t get hurt after the meteor shower dubbed “The Event” gifted him the power of invulnerability but no other powers to compliment it.
But there’s more to Quin than meets the eye, and after some encouragement from his new mentor—a local New Orleans–based superhero named Glow—Quin realizes that he can use his quirky hobby of creating Rube Goldberg devices to outsmart the opposition. But being a hero paints a target on your back, and Quin’s got to risk it all to join the ranks of the superheroes he looks up to. It’s a good thing he can take a punch.
9. Just Jaime (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson
Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy.
Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…
The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are.
Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right?
Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?
10. Niobe: She Is Life Series by Amandla Stenberg, Sebastian A. Jones, Ashley A. Woods, Darell May, Joshua Cozine
11. Black Sands: The Seven Kingdoms by Manuel Godoy. Illustrated by David Lenormand.
Written by Manuel Godoy and illustrated by David Lenormand, Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms is an epic tale about ancient Egyptian mythology. The story follows the young prince Ausar and his kin as he travel the world trying to prove he has what it takes to become Pharaoh. A war breaks out between seven kingdoms and the kids are dragged right into the center of it. The comic series has won multiple awards and was endorsed by ReedPOP, Michelle Obama, and Publisher’s Weekly. It is one of the freshest shonen jumps in over a decade and gives accurate representation of native Egyptians in the old kingdom. This book is a limited edition hardcover sold directly from the publisher, hand signed. It contains the first three chapters of Black Sands + historical context
12. The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson
Quiet, sensitive Faith starts middle school already worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group that’s way better at drama than at teamwork. Although they are awful at soccer, Faith and her teammates soon form a bond both on and off the soccer field that challenges their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity.
The Breakaways is a portrait of friendship in its many forms, and a raw and beautifully honest look into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world.
13. Miles Morales: SpiderMan by Jason Reynolds
“Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”
Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.
But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.
As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.
It’s time for Miles to suit up.
14. Urban Legendz by Paul Downs and Nick Bruno. Illustrated by Michael Yates.
After his mother’s death, teen Dwayne is forced to uproot himself and move into the home where his mother grew up: a shabby apartment in Brooklyn. Overshadowed by his socially salient older brother, and pressured by his policeman father, Dwayne often feels out of place, a sentiment that is only intensified in these unfamiliar surroundings. Before too long, however, his personal problems are cast aside when he gets suckered into joining a new crew of young vigilantes, devoted to solving a series of sinister cases surrounding mysterious monsters that have been wreaking havoc throughout the city.