Black History Month is a time to celebrate the amazing achievements and movements started by African Americans throughout time.
But as we all know, comics also reflect what is happening in the world. Just as we saw many firsts involving African Americans in fields of innovation, there were many firsts in the field of art, including comic books.
During this celebration of amazing innovators, people forget that comics shared the same outside view seen during those troubling times. President Gerald R. Ford, stated, Americans need to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
In honor of those who not only broke through lines in real life but surpassed them being heroes, here are 10 comics that have played an important role in Black History…
Here are 10 Comics Honoring Black History Month…
Jumbo Comics #69 (1944)
Here we feature the first published interior art in the comic book field by the first known black comic artist, Matt Baker. Baker is also credited for illustrating the first graphic novel. Due to his Phantom Lady imagery, he became a target for Dr. Frederic Wertham, author of “Seduction of the Innocent.” Currently, there are only 8 of these books on the CGC census. One graded at a 6.5 through CBCS sold for $528 in 2018. Due to age alone, this book will hold value, but you can’t beat the history behind it.
All Negro Comics #1 (1947)
This is the first comic published by all black creators. The writers, artists, and publishers were all African American. This rare book only has 35 spots in the CGC census with a restored 3.5 being sold in September of 2019 for $3,900. You are not just buying a book, you are buying a piece of true comic history.
Jungle Tales #1 (1954)
Marvel, known back then as Atlas, published their first heroic black character named Waku. Waku is the Prince of the Bantu, a hidden nation in South America. Although he has no powers, he is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and with a spear. This is another rare find, with only 8 in the census, it is weird its FMV isn’t higher. A CBCS Blue label sold in August of 2019 in a 3.5 grade for $120.
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story (1957)
What list would be complete without touching upon those who made some of the biggest impacts in equality. This one-shot touched upon the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. This educational book was created in order to show non-violent ways to resist and protest against what is not right. This book has also held its own throughout the years. Recently an 8.5 CGC graded book sold for $675 in September of 2019. It is tough to find one of these in NM condition.
Lobo #1 (1965)
This is the first comic book title to feature a black character published by Dell Comics. Do not be confused with our interstellar bounty hunter Lobo, this Lobo was a western hero, with no powers. This gunslinger would leave a gold coin imprinted on the foreheads of criminals with the image of a wolf and the letter “L”. With its amazing classic cover, this book is one to own. The last book sold was a 6.5 CGC for $448.82 in September of 2019.
Golden Legacy #1 (1966)
In order to have a future, we must first learn our past. This 16 issue series dives into the lives of the black men and women who had a significant impact on history. Heroes like Toussaint L’ouverture, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman are mentioned within the series. I think incorporating history into comics allows for younger readers to learn in an exciting way. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on any sales or graded books in the census. It doesn’t mean that none exists in the wild, just means they are tough to find. This is a treasure hunt worthy of Indiana Jones!
Fantastic Four #52 (1966)
Here we meet the world’s first mainstream black superhero in comic books, none other than T’Challa, the Black Panther. The King of Wakanda has truly made a name for himself, especially in the MCU. Created by the dynamic duo Lee and Kirby, this hero is loved and respected by all. This is a key book not just for the month of February but for any collector in general. The Black Panther is a man of honor, who rules his people with a just and fair hand. Currently, a 5.0 graded CGC holds an FMV of $525 with signs it will only grow more in time. This is a great investment and can’t wait to own my own copy one day!
EBON #1 (1970)
Ebon is one of the few books you can truly say made history. It is the first time ever that a black superhero gets his own self-titled series. Although Lobo came out first, Ebon is a hero, not a superhero, and Black Panther and Falcon were shown only in supporting roles. This rare book is showing as only having 5 in the CGC census with a 9.0 being sold in August of 2019 for $500.
Teen Titans #26 (1970)
Move over Marvel, this is DC’s first black superhero, Mal Duncan. Mal Duncan who later becomes the Guardian has been in both the Teen Titans and Doom Patrol. Although an important character to the history of DC comics, he has not received much mainstream storytime. Not many books are in the census, only about 22 in total. A book sold in September of 2019 for $312 with a grade of 9.4.
Green Lantern #76 (1970)
I love when artists purposely throw in things to “stir the pot”. In this issue, Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams throw in comments on how they feel about the lack of representation of black people in comics. This is seen when Green Lantern is confronted by an elderly black man who reprimands him for protecting the various colored people but not black skins. In addition, this was the first book considered to be no longer Silver Age but Bronze Age. Besides the obvious reasons why this book is a must-have, we also have two artists essentially risking their jobs in order to bring forth a national issue. They wanted to bring to light that there was inequality not just in mainstream world news, but that it even reaches the written word.
Bottom line…any of these books would be an amazing piece to add to your collection. These books not only mark breakthroughs in our society but changes in thought that should’ve occurred years earlier. While you celebrate greats this month, remember the men and women who made and continue to make strides in all fields of life, even in comics….
Till Next Time, Happy Hunting!
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I recommend Weird Fantasy 18 “Judgment Day!”
Oh this will absolutely be included in part 2. Tarlton visiting Cybrinia was truly indicative of the troubling times plaguing our world. Truly a masterpiece and classic piece of history to own. Maybe one day I will be able to have a copy! Thank you for the great recommendation!
Good content and a very good read. I just feel like somehow Hero For Hire 1 should be included. I just find it iconic, although less so than Fantastic Four 52.
No worries Sam, trust me I did not forget about the powerhouse Luke Cage. I was trying to split the two parts in a somewhat chronological order. But stay tuned because he will definitely be included in part 2!
Lo and behold! I cut my teeth on 1940’s and 50’s comic books nestled in a cardboard carton under my bed as a kid. Well worn from having been read numerous times and ultimately given to children with chronic diseases. Do not despair I continued my life long love and obsession with comics to this day. Most importantly………………..
I am the proud possessor of numerous issues of “Golden Legacy” in the raw. Indeed hard to find.
Lastly I also have original pages from the very first black comic book character Pore Li’l Mose, (1902).
Well Mr. Farflyer1 I shall not despair, for I see you have been blessed ten-fold for your generosity. Some may think “huzzah” (hooray) you did something nice for those young readers but what you truly did was help them during their most troubling times with some enjoyment and peace. To you Sir I lift my glass! Now as to being the proud possessor of such amazing comics, I have to say I am a little jealous. I am a historian as well as a comic collector and to have a book that is the best of both worlds would be great! Hold on to them and enjoy them!