Co-creators of the BLACK comic book series, Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 are publishing two new titles set in that universe as well as a quick name change. Possibly for ease of trademark, possibly for lack of confusion, BLACK is now being known as BLACK [AF]. (UPDATE: a spokesperson for Black Mask Studios says that the BLACK [AF] branding is used for the spin offs from the main BLACK series, which will return.)
First, that means for Black History Month, the original graphic novel BLACK [AF]: America’s Sweetheart introducing America’s first superhero, a black teenage girl.
Though Eli Franklin’s friends and neighbors in rural Montana think of her as a typical 15-year-old, she just might be the most powerful person on the planet. The adopted daughter of a government official, Eli sets out to give America hope as its first superhero, Good Girl, but soon discovers it may take more than donning a patriotic costume to lessen societal divides. On sale in comic book stores on January 31 and in bookstores on February 13, BLACK [AF]: AMERICA’S SWEETHEART is a stand-alone YA story that updates classic superhero tropes (an adopted child manifests incredible powers of super strength, invulnerability, and flight) to tell a bold, thrilling, and timely origin story for a new generation.
The book introduces artist Jennifer Johnson, who makes her graphic novel debut. “With superhero comic books rising to prominence, many stories have evolved to reflect modern ideals,” said Johnson. “AMERICA’S SWEETHEART embodies ideas of heroism, sacrifice, and empathy while reflecting on the world around us. Eli is a savior that we need and a character that many can identify with. In the wake of her powers, Good Girl harbors an uncompromising sense of justice and selflessness, unafraid to do what’s right for the greater good.”
“In this book, we wanted to show the breadth and depth of the world of BLACK and our flexibility to explore other genres within it,” said co-creator and writer Osajyefo. “Jennifer Johnson’s charming approach to the art allows us to tell a coming-of-age story that has a lot of dynamic action as well as social context.”
And then, in April, Black Mask will publish the miniseries BLACK [AF]: Widows & Orphans in April from original BLACK co-creators Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3, with Osajyefo writing the series and Smith illustrating it. The series highlights Anansi, one of the characters introduced in BLACK, and marks the first BLACK series to be illustrated by Smith, who designed the characters that Jamal Igle illustrated in the first BLACK comics.
“Tim and I first came up with the concept of BLACK almost a decade ago,” said Osajyefo. “It’s a thrill to see these characters come to life through his art in the pages of this series.”
“Like the other titles, BLACK [AF]: WIDOWS & ORPHANS is no-holds-barred storytelling,” said Smith. “This story features Anansi and Hoodrat investigating a human trafficking ring that will take them across the globe and bring them face-to-face with dark pasts of abuse, child soldiers, and families torn apart. The series asks a genuinely disturbing question—in a world where only black people have superpowers, what price do they fetch on the black market?”
More BLACK titles are coming from the co-creators and Black Mask Studios.