logo

For the next iteration of our ongoing collaboration between the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association (GNCRT), we are presenting monthly themed Black Lives Matter comics reading mini-lists with a continued focus on Black literature.

Titles are alphabetically arranged with their target audiences denoted in parentheses: A for Adult, YA for Young Adult, and J for juvenile. However, many of these stories cross age groups! In addition, each list includes a few supplementary works for a deeper analysis, and each highlights a Black-owned comics publisher.

You may notice that these lists include a slim collection of middle grade titles. This is due to the dearth of readily accessible comics and graphic novels by Black creators by established children’s publishing companies. For younger children, while some board books and picture books may suffice, there is a glaring shortage of middle grade comics and graphic novels by Black creators. Evidence has suggested a significant decline in pleasure reading by age nine (Scholastic’s “Decline By Nine”), a critical year to encourage a lifelong love of reading. As essential discussions are being held surrounding diversity in literature, reluctant readers, and attractive titles for young readers, the necessity for representation must be addressed. We implore publishers to uplift Black voices by hiring Black authors and illustrators to tell Black stories of all genres and topics in which Black readers can see themselves, and readers can view different experiences beyond their own lens.

Members of the GNCRT and BCALA may have contributed to the items listed here, and may have done so on a voluntary or paid basis.

Please see the core Black Lives Matter Comics Reading List page to review the criteria for inclusion for these lists as well the Black Lives Matter Comics Reading List Task Force committee roster and additional resources.

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Superheroes

Last updated January 21, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Superheroes

This list is comprised of Super+heroes: characters who are heroic, fight back against the establishment, and have supernatural abilities they use for the common good. Many of these titles are origin stories of Black superheroes, and they all represent the nuances that come with having powers that could alter the world. While there are well-known Black justice purveyors on this list, you may notice the absence of others. Some of these characters have never been written or drawn by Black creators. Others have, but their Black-authored or Black-illustrated stories are no longer accessible. Still others have stereotypical or otherwise harmful depictions. We implore publishers to uplift Black voices by hiring Black authors and illustrators to tell Black stories.

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Afrofuturism

Last updated March 15, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Afrofuturism

This list of 13 titles is centered on stories of a world where the intersection of science fiction, technology, and the arts are seen through the Black lens. It unapologetically celebrates the innovation that Black culture has to offer and have always had. It imagines a future where Black people are able to flourish and thrive without oppression or fear.

Afrofuturism exists in contemporary society not only in the comics and graphic novel spheres, but also in mediums such as music, social media, and films. It challenges the current world and re-envisions it to one where Black people freely shaped the world to one that is more equitable. Afrofuturism gives power to Black people, Black history, and Black advancement.

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Good Trouble

Last updated April 29, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Good Trouble

“You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” – John Lewis

Inspired by the indomitable Congressman John Lewis, this list comprises the history of Black folks who advocated for the disenfranchised, the invisible, and the voiceless. It speaks on those who caused necessary trouble to ensure that culture lives on, despite severe consequences. Good Trouble emphasizes that history cannot be told without the inclusion of Black history.

Check out each of the supplemental reading lists in the drop down section below!

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Superheroes

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Superheroes

Last updated January 21, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Superheroes

Black (A)
Kwanza Osajyefo, writer; Tim Smith 3, co-creator/designer; Jamal Igle, artist
2016, Black Mask Studios
When a young man survives being shot by police, he discovers that he’s part of a small group of Black people who possess superpowers.
WorldCat

Black Panther: The Complete Collection Vol. 3 (YA)
Reginald Hudlin, writer; CAFU, artist
2018, Marvel Comics
A masterful feat of art and storyline, this collection showcases T’Challa’s struggles with his enemies and the not-so-quiet discontent of citizens outside Wakanda. Beginning with a secret mission on the seas, the comic takes readers into the tactical maneuvering of T’Challa as he battles an archenemy and a few other surprising enemies.
WorldCat

Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged (YA)
David F. Walker, writer; Ivan Reis, artist; Joe Prado, artist
2016, DC Comics
Vic Stone, also known as Cyborg, is killed in battle, only to be mysteriously regenerated by an unknown force in his own cybernetic body. A new villain, the Technosapiens, is determined to study Vic for their own nefarious purposes. They are from an alternate universe in which Vic’s father—the scientist responsible for Vic’s enhancement—used his tech to save his wife’s life, giving Techno Sapiens the power to take over the world.
WorldCat

Ironheart: Those With Courage (YA)
Eve Ewing, writer; Lucian Vecchio, artist; G. Geoffo, artist; Kevin Libranda, artist
2019, Marvel
Using a nonlinear format, the comic highlights the conflicts Riri has within her Chicago neighborhood, with the dean of M.I.T., and with a few unexpected foes. Too young to carry the burden of being a superhero alone, she has to learn a couple of lessons as Ironheart, and as Riri Williams.
WorldCat

Leon: Protector of the Playground (J)
Jamar Nicholas, writer and artist
2017, Kids Love Comics
Leon is a superhero to his friends and students in school but he seems to have enemies around every corner. Thanks to a mishap in science class, he must face known and unknown rivals while learning a few lessons along the way. Leon is suitable for kids age 7 and up and for adults who want to treat their inner child.
WorldCat

Livewire Vol. 1: Fugitive (YA)
Vita Ayala, writer; Raúl Allén, artist; Patricia Martín, artist
2019, Valiant Entertainment
Amanda McKee and her allies were being hunted by the US government for their psionic powers when she enacted the nationwide blackout to enable their safe escape. The blackout, however, caused astronomical damage and McKee is America’s most wanted. She must team up with her former friends to save her fellow psiots from total destruction—one that she might have had a hand in. This continuation of Valiant’s Harbinger series can be read as a stand-alone.
WorldCat

Luke Cage Vol. 2: Caged! (YA)
David F. Walker, author; Guillermo Sanna, artist; Marcio Menyz, color artist
2018, Marvel
He’s bulletproof and strong beyond belief, but Luke Cage still gets pulled over for driving while Black. Unjustly incarcerated and hypnotized by the evil, toxic waste-fueled Ringmaster, Luke must regain control of his own mind to break out of prison and make it back home to his loving wife and daughter.
Publisher site:
WorldCat

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol. 1: BFF (J)
Amy Reeder, writer; Brandon Montclare, writer; Natacha Bustos, artist; Tamra Bonvillain, artist
2016, Marvel
The smartest person in the world is not Iron Man, it’s nine-year-old Lunella LaFayette! However, her genius can’t hide the fact that she is terrified of activating her Inhuman genes. When Lunella finds the Kree technology to prevent the change, she gets more than she bargains for—including a prehistoric red dinosaur.
WorldCat

Naomi: Season One (YA)
Brian Bendis, writer; David F. Walker, writer; Jamal Campbell, artist
2019, DC Comics
Naomi McDuffie is an ordinary teenage girl from Oregon. When a fight between Superman and Mongul leads to questions about the last time a super-powered person has appeared in her hometown, her curiosity reveals long-held secrets and unexpected answers about her origin story.
WorldCat

Nubia: Real One (YA)
LL McKinney, writer; Robyn Smith, artist
2021, DC Comics
Nubia may have superhuman strength like Wonder Woman, but in a society that would rather see her as a threat, she has to hide her powers to stay safe. When a member of the richest and most powerful family in town starts harassing her best friend, Nubia has to decide whether to stay in the shadows or embody the hero she knows she is.
WorldCat

Quincredible Vol. 1: Quest to Be the Best! (YA)
Rodney Barnes, writer; Selina Espiritu, artist; Kelly Fitzpatrick, artist
2019, Oni Press
Quin is a normal teen just trying to fit in. But then he discovers a secret superpower: invulnerability. Can Quin use his new super-ability to save his family and his New Orleans community?
WorldCat

Supplementary Works

The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics & Sequential Art
Frances Gateward & John Jennings
2015, Rutgers University Press
Essays review the history of African American creators and content from newspaper comic strips to present-day comic books and graphic novels.
WorldCat

White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comics Books
Jonathan Gayles
2016, California Newsreel
This documentary film features interviews with comic creators, scholars, and cultural critics, all discussing the wide range of depictions of Black masculinity in early Black superheroes.
WorldCat

“The Evolution and Impact of the Black Superhero” in Ebony
Rudly Raphael
2019, Ebony
This article examines the representation of African American superheroes in Hollywood against the backdrop of the history of the Black comic superhero.

Black-Owned Publisher Spotlight

Griot Enterprises
1997
“When we began in 1997, we had seen many great African American superheroes in comics, but we never saw an iconic African American superhero team. We didn’t have our Justice League, our Avengers. We, as comic book fans of color, young and old, didn’t have a universe where our heroes reside… Griot Enterprises filled that void.” – from the website

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Afrofuturism

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Afrofuturism

Last updated March 15, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Afrofuturism

Black Panther: Avengers of the New World, part one (YA)
Ta-nehisi Coates, writer; Wilfredo Torres, artist; Chris Sprouse, artist
2017, Marvel
Set in a contemporary time period, T’Challa must battle enemies within Wakanda while fighting the doubts within himself.
WorldCat

Black Panther: World of Wakanda Vol.1: Dawn of the Midnight Angels (YA)
Roxane Gay, writer; Ta-Nehisi Coates, writer; Yona Harvey, writer; Alitha Martinez, artist; Afua Richardson artist
2017, Marvel
Bound by an oath of loyalty to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs, Dora Milaje recruits Ayo and Aneka must balance their love for one another with their obligation to the kingdom. When the kingdom’s stability is threatened by the king’s inability to protect them from internal and external enemies, Ayo and Aneka’s actions can either heal or harm efforts to restore calm.
WorldCat

E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams Part One (YA)
Roye Okupe, writer; Ayodele Elegba, editor; Sunkanmi Akinboye, artist
2016, YouNeek Studios
In 2025 Nigeria, superpowered Wale Williams investigates his father’s disappearance.
WorldCat

FTL, Y’all! (YA)
C. Spike Trotman, editor; Amanda LaFrenais, editor
2019, Iron Circus Comics
This science fiction comics anthology features stories that depend on a unique shared premise: instructions for building a faster-than-light engine have appeared on the Internet for anyone and everyone to build without warning, leading to ever-multiplying consequences.
WorldCat

The Horsemen: Divine Intervention (A)
Jiba Molei Anderson, writer; Patrick Brower, artist
2015, Griot Enterprises
In a battle between The Orisha and The Deities, readers are introduced to mythical figures of the Yoruba religion in this visually stunning comic.
WorldCat

Infinitum (A)
Tim Fielder, writer and artist
2021, Amistad
A curse on King Aja Oba leads to lifetimes of identities through poignant historical events, intergalactic travel, and the beginning of something new.
WorldCat

LaGuardia (A)
Nnedi Okorafor, writer; Tana Ford, artist
2019, Berger Books
Set in a time where aliens have arrived on Earth, LaGuardia tells the story of Dr. Future Nwaofar Chukwuebuka, a Nigerian-American intent on giving birth to her baby in New York.
WorldCat

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower (A)
Octavia Butler, writer of original work; Damian Duffy, adapter; John Jennings, artist
2020, Abrams ComicArts
This poignant graphic novel, set in the near future, is an illustrated retelling of Octavia E. Butler’s novel of the same name. In 2024, scarce resources and jobs have led to lawlessness outside the walls of Robleldo. Readers journey with Lauren Olamina, a hyperempath, as she navigates her days while holding onto the teachings of her father as she creates a new outlook on life.
WorldCat

Prince of Cats (A)
Ron Wimberly, writer and artist
2016, Image Comics
Wimberly’s Romeo and Juliet retelling artfully merges Elizabethan language with hip hop lyricism, while his world-building amplifies the theatrical convention of altering Shakespeare’s original setting to the point of alternate reality: fluorescent costumes, katana-driven violence, and a cyberpunk-tinged 1980s NYC-esque setting.
WorldCat

The Sacrifice of Darkness (A)
Roxane Gay, writer; Tracy Lynne Oliver, writer; Rebecca Kirby, artist
2020, Archaia
It’s difficult to break the cycle when you’re the son of the sun stealer, but Joshua is determined to do so.
WorldCat

Shuri: The Search for Black Panther (A)
Nnedi Okorafor, writer; Leonard Romero,artist; Jordie Bellaire, artist
2019, Marvel Comics
A scientist and superhero, Shuri struggles to find her brother, Black Panther, while meeting the needs of Wakanda and her mother.
WorldCat

Star Wars: Lando: Double Or Nothing (A)
Rodney Barnes, writer; Paolo Vinelli, artist
2018, Marvel
Self-absorbed smuggler Lando Calrissian learns that money isn’t the only reward when he accepts an assignment to liberate oppressed droids.
WorldCat

Upgrade Soul (A)
Ezra Claytan Daniels, writer and artist
2018, Lion Forge
Aging science fiction writer Hank and scientist Molly volunteer for an experimental procedure to rejuvenate their bodies and minds, much to the dismay of their family. When the results prove to be much stranger than expected, Hank and Molly are forced to confront not only their own mortality, but what it means to be human.
WorldCat

Supplementary Works

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Science Fiction and Fantasy Culture
Ytasha Womack
2013, Lawrence Hill Books / Chicago Review Press
Afrofuturism, a concept that transverses multiple genres of literature, music, and art is discussed in this comprehensive work in which Black cultural identity is liberated through imagination.
WorldCat

EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest
Qiana Whitted
2019, Rutgers University Press
Whitted, editor of the Comics Studies Society’s Inks journal, examines EC Comics’ “preachies”—stories that intentionally challenged readers to reflect on the problems of the conservatism and bigotry that dominated 1950s America—and gives a nuanced recounting of their successes and failures as a tool of enlightenment.
Worldcat

Black-Owned Publisher Spotlight

YouNeek Studios
2015
YouNeek™ Studios is a hub for “YouNeek” and creative character-based storytelling and entertainment. Simply put, through the use of graphic novels, animation, video games, and other forms of media, we focus on telling extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters inspired by African history, culture, and mythology. We do this with the ultimate goal of empowering African creatives and storytelling across the globe. (from the publisher site)

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Good Trouble

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Good Trouble

Last updated April 29, 2021

BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Good Trouble

Angola Janga: Kingdom of Runaway Slaves (A)
Marcelo D’Salete, writer and artist
2019, Fantagraphics Books
Fiction. This epic graphic novel dramatizes real events in seventeenth-century Brazil, where kidnapped Africans and their descendents escaped Portuguese slavery and founded an independent nation that resisted, fought, and occasionally negotiated with the local European population for the right to self-determination without interference.
WorldCat

The Be-Bop Barbarians (A)
Gary Phillips, writer; Dale Berry, artist
2019, Pegasus Books
Fiction. The start of the Civil Rights Movement in 1950s New York City, as told through the stories of three Black cartoonists. The Be-Bop Barbarians tackles the concept of passing, police brutality, the Red Scare, and other subjects that feel relevant in the 1950s and today.
WorldCat

Big Black: Stand at Attica (A)
Frank “Big Black” Smith, writer; Jared Reinmuth, writer; Ameziane, artist
2020, Archaia / BOOM! Studios
Big Black’s memoir about his time as a prisoner in Attica State Prison and the 1971 rebellion against injustices in the prison system.
WorldCat

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History (A)
David F. Walker, writer; Marcus Kwame Anderson, artist
2021, Penguin Random House / Ten Speed Press
A comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party’s rise and fall – and its lasting impact in modern society.
WorldCat

The Harlem Hellfighters (YA)
Max Brooks, writer; Caanan White, artist
2014, Broadway Books
A fictionalized story of the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I, which details their history from the discrimination they experienced in training camps to their heroic fighting in Europe.
WorldCat

It’s Life as I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940-1980 (A)
Dan Nadal, editor; Charles Johnson, editor; Ronald Wimberly, editor, Kerry James Marshall, artist
2021, New York Review Comics
This anthology features the works of Black cartoonists during the mid-twentieth century and the ways in which it centers Black lives.
WorldCat

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History (J)
Vashti Harrison, writer and artist
2019, Little, Brown and Co.
From inventor Benjamin Banneker to architect Sir David Adjaye, this children’s book is perfect for anyone seeking information regarding the rich diaspora and accomplishments of Black men within the world’s history. It also includes an area for readers to create their own legends and a resource list of movies, books, music, and websites children and families can peruse for further information.
WorldCat

March (YA)
John Lewis, writer; Andrew Aydin, writer; Nate Powell, artist
2013 – 2016, Top Shelf Productions
A history of the Civil Rights Movement, as experienced by civil rights leader and U.S. congressman, John Lewis.
WorldCat

Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana (YA)
Brian K. Mitchell, writer; Barrington S. Edwards, artist, Nick Weldon, editor
2021, University of Virginia Press / Historic New Orleans
Before there was P.B. S. Pinchback, there was Oscar Dunn, America’s first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor. A supporter of civil rights during Reconstruction in Louisiana, a colleague of President Grant, and a political powerhouse, Dunn pushed through massive change during this era, and yet, his accomplishments have been lost to time. This comprehensive history tells his story through the words of his descendent.
Worldcat

Robert Smalls: Tales of the Talented Tenth (J)
Joel Christian Gill, writer and artist
2021, Fulcrum
The true story of Robert Smalls, who commandeered a Confederate ship and sailed it to Union-controlled waters and liberated thirteen enslaved people.
WorldCat

Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History (YA)
Joel Christian Gill, writer and artist
2014, Fulcrum
Joel Christian Gill brings to light nine previously overlooked stories in Black history – from Henry “Box” Brown’s escape to freedom to Major Taylor’s accomplishments as the fastest cyclist in the world.
WorldCat

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts (A)
Rebecca Hall, writer; Hugo Martínez, artist
2021, Simon & Schuster
The history of the erasure of Black women in the slave trade comes to life in this genre blend of novel and memoir. Dr. Hall’s mission to tell the stories of Black women and their resistance emphasizes the hidden history that is often used to hold down a culture.
WorldCat

Supplementary

Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books
Ken Quattro, writer
2020, Penguin Random House / Yoe Books
Profiles the unseen Black artists and creators of comics who paved the way for Black contemporary artists and stories. This includes the comics and art created by the artists and provides historical context.
WorldCat

John Lewis: Good Trouble (film)
2020, Dawn Porter
A documentary that details over sixty years of John Lewis’s life getting into good trouble, which includes featured footage of Lewis himself, interviews with politicians and activists, and archival footage.
WorldCat

Black-Owned Publisher Spotlight

Lion Forge Comics
2011-
Lion Forge Comics was founded in 2011 by David Steward II and Carl Reed to highlight diverse creators and characters in the comics industry. In 2019, Lion Forge merged with Oni Press, and David Steward II became the CEO of Polarity, a media company that continues to publish diverse comics through Oni, diverse animation through Lion Forge Animation, and more.
Polarity
Lion Forge Animation
Oni Press