Comic book writer, artist and animator Nilah Magruder, and winner of the 2015 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity just dropped a new comic through Marvel called A Year Of Marvels: September Infinite Comic #1. It’s main characters are Tippy Toe and Rocket Raccoon and the comic is drawn by Siya Oum , cover art by Jamal Campbell (The Immortal Nadia Greene). Magruder has been quietly garnering a following for some time and her webcomics We Don’t Go There At Night and MFK (which garnered her the McDuffie Award) are pretty well known. (She was also on my list of Black female writers that should be working in comics). According to Heidi MacDonald of the Beat, (who broke the story), what makes this particular cuddly comic so groundbreaking is the fact that Magruder is an African-American woman and the comic dropped on September 7th.
Which makes Nilah Magruder is the first African-American woman of record to write for Marvel comics.
This doesn’t negate the July announcement of Roxanne Gay and Yona Harvey being the first Black women to write for Marvel, as they will be writing the Black Panther spinoff World of Wakanda, (due out in November 2016). It’s just that their work will be an ongoing series to appear in print and digital and in circulation in comic book stores, whereas Magruder’s Infinite Comic is a digital only one-off that is part of Marvel Unlimited, a subscription-based service that lets fans read certain Marvel titles digitally. It also doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s taken Marvel like 115 years or so to get their act together and actually hire a black female writer. My only criticism of the announcement is directed to Marvel’s PR department.
Why wasn’t Magruder announced as the first Black female writer for Marvel officially back in July?
The other thing I find very interesting is that the Magruder announcement also gives Marvel some leverage when it comes to the complaining fans who were upset that they hired two women (Gay and Harvey) who had never written a comic before to work on the BP title. Not only has Magruder written comics, she’s won awards for doing so. It also allows Marvel to say that not all of the black folks writing their comics are writing black characters.
Because Tippy and Rocket are anthropomorphic rodents and those are not black people.
Should we keep applauding Marvel for doing what they should have done years ago? No. But if they are legitimately trying to make changes we have to acknowledge that and then spend our money on those titles otherwise, those changes won’t be permanent. At the end of the day, I’m really happy that black women are finally getting a chance to shine on the main stage and I too send my congrats to Nilah MaGruder, Roxanne Gay and Yona Harvey for being amazing writers and creators and getting recognition for their achievements. I look forward to reading all of their work and I’m honestly hoping that they aren’t Highlanders and that we will see more women of color writing comics at Marvel, DC and other comic book companies like Image, Vertigo, and the smaller comic book outfits as well.
A Year of Marvels is a series that started in February 2016 that is available exclusively through Marvel Unlimited. Every month a different Marvel character or characters have their own stand-alone adventure. One for each month of 2016.