The other week, we talked about four POC who’ve written for Marvel. This week I want to look at four Asian-descended artists, with a post on artists of ethnicities to follow at a later date.
The majority of my diverse Marvel reading comes from the art department as Marvel does far better with hiring POC artists than they do with POC writers. From the late 90s on--ie, from the advent of the internet--non-American artists also account for a decent percentage of the company’s bullpen. I’m continually surprised at the sheer number of South American, Asian, and European artists I encounter. (No one from Africa has shown up on my reading list yet.) And many, though certainly not all, of these artists are people of colour. Added to the non-white American artists on the company's payroll, they form a creative pool that helps dictate Marvel’s look, albeit not without editorial challenges.
As was the case with the writers I highlighted earlier, the recs list below is a sample only. I encourage you to explore A More Diverse Marvel Universe for a broader (but still incomplete) list of other POC artists who’ve worked for Marvel.
American artist Annie Wu’s most prominent Marvel attachment involves my very favouritest Marvel title: HAWKEYE, which I consider one of the comics and want you to read in the worst possible way.
Wu drew the bulk of the series’ third arc, L.A. WOMAN [Marvel Unlimited | Amazon | The Book Depository], in which Kate Bishop (light of my heart; breath in my lungs) moves to Los Angeles and becomes a private detective. Wu's skill at conveying attitude with a scant few lines makes her the perfect fit for intrepid Kate. Her panels are full of telling body language and a stellar sense of movement that drives the story forward even during its quietest moments.
Watch for her as the primary artist on DC’s BLACK CANARY, too.
British artist Jim Cheung collaborated with writer Allan Heinberg to create one of my favourite superhero teams: the Young Avengers [Marvel Unlimited | Amazon], a talented group of teenagers who rank the abovementioned Kate Bishop among their number.
Cheung pushes the action forward with every panel thanks to his excellent sense of movement. He also employs unexpected angles and different perspectives within otherwise conventional panel layouts, imbuing each page with extra oomph. His comics are a delight to view.
I know, I know; we talked about X-23 [Marvel Unlimited | Amazon | The Book Depository] when we discussed series writer Marjorie Liu, but I have to rec it again because of Japanese artist Sana Takada. She’s the artist behind much of the series' later run, and her work is amazing. She blends the standard western superheroic approach with manga influences to create something fresh and interesting on every page whether she's dealing with action sequences, character-driven moments, or sweeping vistas.
On the non-Marvel front, keep an eye out for MONSTRESS, her creator-owned collaboration with Liu.
For some reason, most of American artist Jae Lee’s comics aren’t properly tagged on Marvel Unlimited, so they always come as a surprise. I think I’m about to read some random book, and BAM! Lee’s art is right there in my eyeballs, perfectly complementing the scripts of his frequent collaborator Paul Jenkins.
Lee’s panels are stark and haunting with their deep blacks and occasional, unexpected open spaces amidst otherwise busy compositions; a perfect fit for the stories he tells alongside Jenkins. I’ll direct your particular attention to INHUMANS [Marvel Unlimited | Amazon | The Book Depository], a great starting place for anyone interested in the Kree-engineered race of superhumans. You should also explore THE SENTRY [Marvel Unlimited | Amazon], a less idealistic look at the kind of superhero who dominated the genre in the mid to late twentieth century.