INVISIBLE MEN: THE TRAILBLAZING BLACK ARTISTS OF COMIC BOOKS Interview With Comics Historian Ken Quattro

INVISIBLE MEN: THE TRAILBLAZING BLACK ARTISTS OF COMIC BOOKS Interview With Comics Historian Ken Quattro

IDW Publishing recently released Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books during Black History Month, and they set us up with an exclusive interview with comics historian Ken Quattro!

Comics Historian Ken Quattro has been researching for fifteen years to create his new book, Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books. The collection features eighteen prominent black comic book creators from the earliest era of the medium.

Quattro interviewed many golden-age comic creators as part of his fifteen-year research in preparation of the book, and has now finally released it with IDW Publishing. The project joins hundreds of other written works by the comics historian, who also consults on superhero films.

When chatting exclusively with Quattro, we learned why black artists were more prominent in the '40s than people realize, and why many of the era's white creators were unaware. Surprisingly, it has a lot to do with World War II!

"It fulfills that first-generation of a lap time with book artists, and it was a unique situation because they benefited in some ways from World War II, just like a lot of women did with Rosie the Riveter and stuff like that. When the men went to war in the early years of WWII, blacks were being drafted by local draft boards, which even though they were eligible to be drafted, white draft boards would generally skip over blacks because they didn't know if they would be loyal enough to serve in the military.

So until about 1943 or 44, blacks really weren't even being drafted. So in a sense, it opened up some opportunity for them to work in the comic industry because so many of the artists and writers were being drafted and going off to war, but it also created a situation where a lot of the white artists never even realized that black artists were working as their replacements. And so, in a sense, they were invisible to the white artists who worked during that time.

I interviewed many golden-age comic book artists, and most of them said they have never known any black artists. Other than, maybe, Matt Baker, who physically worked with the studio. But other than that, most black artists worked out of their own homes, and they would turn in work to their studios and stuff like that. So again, they physically didn't interact with their white peers."

You can hear all of this and more in the interview with Quattro below. Be sure to share your thoughts in the usual spot!

*This interview has been edited for clarity.*

Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists Of Comic Books is now available from IDW Publishing.

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