Graphic Novels by Black Authors

March may have been Black History Month but we at FBC think that we should read books by Black authors all year-round. With everything that is going on, sometimes I find it difficult to read an average 300-page novel. When that happens, I often read graphic novels. They are often around 150 pages, easy to read, and always gorgeous. Here is a list of graphic novels either by a Black author or featuring a Black protagonist. What graphic novels would you like to add to this list?

1. Black History In Its Own Words by Ronald Wimberly- This presents quotes from various Black luminaries, like writers, activists, musicians, artists, that are preceded by a brief biography. There were a few people and a lot of quotations that I had not heard of. Apart for the famous people like James Baldwin, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisolm, and Spike Lee, I also learned about Lena Horne, Arturo Shomburg, Cheryl Dunye, among others. Dunye’s quote, “Sometimes you have to create your own history” seems relevant now.

2. Bingo Love by Tee Franklin- If you want a beautiful and cute queer love story, then read this. It is the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray and how they met at church bingo in 1963. They fall in love with each other during their high school, profess their love, and are torn apart by family pressure, society, and circumstances. Now in their mid-60s, they are reunited at a bingo game and realize they are still in love and the story follows their relationship and lives over the years.

3. Shuri: The Search For Black Panther (Shuri #1-5) by Nnedi Okorafor- This story begins after the disappearance of T’Challa and everyone expects his sister, Shuri to take on the title of the Black Panther. Shuri is not interested but she wants to find her brother and tries to rescue him with help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. However, her adventures create problems and she has to save Africa with the help of Iron Man while also figuring out what she wants for herself.

4. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Brandon Montclare- The first in the series, this novel features Lunella Lafayette, a nine-year-old genius who wants to change the world but is terrified of how her inhuman genes will react to the Terrigen mists. A prehistoric red T-rex is teleported to the present-day Marvel universe and both of them team up. This is the first of the series and I plan to read the rest.

5. New Kid by Jerry Craft- This novel won the Newberry Award in 20202 and was the first graphic novel to win this award for “the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.” Jordan Banks is a twelve-year-old Black student an urban private middle school, where is one of the few students of color. He is an aspiring artist and this novel shows the various aspects of middle school, the race and class dynamics in the privileged school where Baker is a handful of the token students of color, and provides a tender and heartfelt portrait of Baker’s year of middle school as a new kid.

6.Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberly- This graphic novel focuses on Tybalt, a character from Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet. Set in 1980s New York, this novel fuses hip-hop, disco, and punk with references to the playwright. Tybalt heads the Capulet crew and fights with Montagues in the streets. Original lines from the play are recreated with contemporary references and the dialogue is set in iambic pentameter. A fun action-filled  graphic novel with the correct doses of Shakespeare and hip hop.

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.

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