- Written By 10Melanin Team
10 Black Female Comic Book Illustrators
Has the lack of diversity or representation ever put you off getting into comics? Maybe it hasn't but you'd love to discover some comics that are diverse? Then this list is for you. These Black female comic book illustrators are helping diversify the comic book industry with their realistic yet imaginative imagery of Black girls. Whether you're old or young, everyone can enjoy these comics and finally see a reflection of themselves in the pages. Not only are these artists creating exciting independent comics but are also working in the big comic studios to ensure that you can see us everywhere!
10. Robyn Smith
Robyn Smith grew up in Jamaica and comes from a creative family (her father a portrait artist and her mother a make up artist) so, she always knew wanted to be an illustrator. At 16, her family moved to the US and she went to study at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Smith is currently working in New York and has worked on comics for the Seven days Newspaper, College Humor and The Nib. Her most notable work includes her mini comic The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town and illustrating Jamila Rowser's comic Wash Day and L.L. McKinney's Nubia: The Real One .
9. Micheline Hess
Born and raised in NYC, Micheline Hess started her comic book career in the early 90's working at Milestone Comics as a colorist. She writes and illustrates graphic novels, short stories, and interactive iBooks for kids but is best known for her comic book series Malice in Ovenland and graphic novel Diary of a mad Black Werewolf. She has always found the visual narratives in books and film fascinating and is tries to incorporate her own sense of humorous story-telling into both her personal and sometimes professional work.
8. Nilah Magruder
Based in Western Maryland, Nilah Magruder is a comic book author and illustrator, known for the writing the award winning comic series M.F.K. Magruder has also written for Marvel and illustrated children’s books for Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, Penguin and is currently illustrating Creaky Acres. Outside of comics she has worked in animation and television producing work for both Dream Works and Cannon Busters.
7. Ashley A. Woods
Ashley A. Woods is a comic book artist, writer, & creator from Chicago and has worked on titles such as Niobe, Ladycastle and the Tomb Raider series. Woods studied at IADT, where she earned her degree in Film and Animation. She started out by self-publishing an action-fantasy comic series called Millennia War, which led to her career in comics. She is particularly known for her female illustrations and designs, especially those that represent the Black community in a fantasy setting.
6. Natacha Bustos
Natacha Bustos has helped bring a lot of beloved Marvel comic book characters to life, from Miles Morales to the Runaways, but she best known for her contribution to the super smart superhero Moongirl series. Bustos grew up in the Spanish town Torremolinos, and was the only person of color there, which as you can imagine, had a profound effect on her self confidence due to the amount of racism she received. Comics helped her escape all this and she found herself delving more and more into the imaginative worlds that comics and manga could bring. Now she is helping make comics more diverse in Spain and is apart of Colectiva de Autora de Comics, where she and others use their voice to fight gender inequality.
5. Christina "Steenz" Stewart
Doll House Comics
Christina "Steenz" Stewart is a cartoonist and editor born in Detroit, Michigan, currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She is most recognized for illustrating Archival Quality and recently taking over Heart of the City from Mark Tatulli in 2020. Steenz attended Maryville University and studied studio art with a focus on illustration but left as a junior and worked as a comic book store manager at the Eisner-winning Star Clipper Comics in St. Louis until its closing in 2015. It was during this time that she decided to make comics, and after being exposed to Brittany Williams' work on a Samurai Jack comic that she decided to pursue it as a career.
4. Shannon Wright
Shannon Wright is a cartoonist and illustrator best known for her positive and realistic portrayal of the Black community within her work. Wright was the only girl amongst her siblings, and her brothers played a big part in exposing her to a lot of cartoons and anime as a child. Although she faced a few obstacles in her life, she has become a well celebrated artist and has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian and BBC to name a few. One of her most popular graphic-novels - The Twins, which tells the coming of age story of two young girls in middle school, who are drifting apart as they come to terms with finding their own identities.
3. Afua Richardson
Afua Richardson is a woman of many talents, not only is she an incredibly illustrator, but she previously worked flautist where she performed on Soul Train and was a dancer for MTV Jams. Born and raised in New York to a scientist family, Richardson taught herself to draw and eventually became one of the few Black female artists to work for Marvel and DC. More recently she was involved in the Sci-Fi Tv show Lovecraft Country, where she did the artwork for the fictional comic Orithyia Blue.
2. Bianca Xunise
Bianca Xunise is a cartoonist and illustrator from Chicago, Illinois, whose work is nationally-syndicated through the Six Chix comic strip collaborative, which has a unique style that is inspired by European and Japanese comics. Born to a mother who was a fashion designer, she followed in her roots and became a fashion blogger, but subsequently quit after their lack of empathy for the Treyvon Marten case. In 2018, Xunise self-published and released Say Her Name, which deals with the reality and anxiety of being Black in America, for which she won an Ignatz Award.
1. Alitha Martinez
Alitha E. Martinez is a comic book artist from New York, USA. Her comic book career began in the early 90's, but it was in 1999 that she got her big break when her talent was recognised by Marvel editor Joe Quesada and he hired her as his assistant. Since then Martinez' career has gone from strength to strength and she has worked for all the major comic book publishers. Martinez is best known for her work on the Iron Man and Batgirl comics but more recently has worked on the well received newcomers Moon Girl and Omni.