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365 Reasons to Love Comics #32

Hey, it’s Black History Month! Naturally, as a nerdy white guy, it’s my duty to inform you readers out there of this, and stuff. Throughout the course of the month, you may notice an increased spotlight on some of our favorite characters and creators of African descent. That is, unless you find it offensive. Then it won’t happen. In the end, it doesn’t matter what race someone is, so long as they are totally awesome.

Take today’s creator, for instance…

2/1/07

32. Kyle Baker

Kyle Baker, Cartoonist.jpg

Kyle Baker is the eight-time Eisner award winning writer/artist of such cool works as Why I Hate Saturn, You Are Here, King David, Nat Turner, The Cowboy Wally Show, and Plastic Man. He may have started as a “lowly” inker at Marvel, but he’s gone on to do some great runs and graphic novels.

I’m not as experienced in Baker’s work as I’d like to be. Highly reputable sources have touted his brilliance, though, and I’m inclined to believe them from what I’ve read.

Kyle Baker, Plas.jpg

He’s known for a (usually) cartoony style, which has attracted a fair share of bashers on the comics interweb. Above you see an example from his critically beloved, woefully undersold Plastic Man series that DC put out recently. I’m no fan of Plastic Man (I’m an Elongated Man guy) but Baker turned the series into a charming, funny romp. And no one bought it.

Of course, Kyle Baker is a big proponent of making comics fun, and making them accessible to kids. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t done his fair share of adult material, but he’s also put out a lot of cool, more whimsical stuff.

Kyle Baker, Truth.jpg

The Truth mini he illustrated for Marvel a few years back, detailing the story of the black man who acted as a prototype Captain America, gained quite a bit of controversy at the time. Sadly, I’ve seen more bashing and discourse over the continuity issues it raises then, say, the importance of the racial commentary within. That’s fandom for you.

Kyle Baker, Nat Turner.jpg

Kyle Baker runs his own little self-publishing company, and he’s put out cool stuff like Nat Turner and The Bakers. You should check them out, for I am certain they are good. And comics should be good, after all.

The man has a graceful art style. He’s a cartoonist’s cartoonist, making it look effortless, and never ceasing to entertain. So, yeah. He’s totally awesome.

Be sure to stop by http://kylebaker.com!

21 Comments

One of the best comic book makers ever.

I never knew Kyle Baker was black, guess I never thought about it.

Plastic Man was awesome and the volume 1 TPB has a swanky plastic cover. I think the only other thing of his which I’ve read is Why I Hate Saturn which I actually thought was a bit sucky.

Nat Turner is what comics are all about. That was such an excellent book.

Has the last two issues of Nat Turner come out? I remember the $10 trade collecting the first two issues (great value, right?), but after that I haven’t heard about the comic at all.

Baker is the only comics creator whose work I will buy any of, sight unseen. The Baker/Helfer “Shadow” is the most underrated series of the 80s — and one of the best ever. Brilliance in every issue.

Yes, Baker on the “Shadow”, following Sienkiewicz… that was totally bizarre and violent… in a funny way. Or funny in a violent way. Totally worth checking it out.

I think the only other thing of his which I’ve read is Why I Hate Saturn which I actually thought was a bit sucky.

Why I Hate Saturn is generally considered to be his best work (at least it was before Nat Turner came out – I don’t know about that). I thought it was great.

Unfortunately (for my tastes) his humour drifted away from wit and into slapstick which didn’t work as well for me – until his all time low in King David. Luckily, Plastic Man was back up to top form.

The Cowboy Wally Show is one of the funniets comics I’ve ever read. For that book alone he’d deserve a spot in this column, plus he’s done a lot of other great stuff!

The Cowboy Wally Show may be my favorite single comic of all time. I was lucky enough to latch onto a copy when it first came out 18 years ago, and have been greatful for the occaisional reprint of the book, as the first edition is falling apart.

To the preson who asked- Nat Turner Volume two is coming out from Image soon. I forget the month, but the book format wise will match the reprint of the first two issues.

Hey Patrick, that’s some good news on volume two of Nat Turner. It’s seems like a collection of the two volumes is inevitable though. I’m crossing my fingers for a hardcover…

Cowboy Wally & Why I Hate Saturn are two of my favorite comics. I also dug most of Baker’s slapstick books- there are too few artists out there who can do good physical comedy.

I was lucky enough to meet Kyle Baker at a Boston convention a few years ago. He was genuinely funny in person, and did a great sketch for me when I bought the first “Cartoonist” book. He’s one of the few cartoonists whose work appeals to my wife.

I will be amazed if you can come up with 27 more black comic creators.

I can think of Robert Morales, Christopher Priest, Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Cross… and thats abuot it.

“I will be amazed if you can come up with 27 more black comic creators.”

Don’t forget about black characters: Sheriff Lobo, Black Panther, John Stewart, Storm ect

I think Denys Cowan is black.

While I haven’t read Nat Turner yet, I’m a fan of YOU ARE HERE.

But if you’re talking black creators…please please PLEASE tell me there’s going to be an entry on George Herriman or Matt Baker?

I will be amazed if you can come up with 27 more black comic creators.

I’m not going to fill the entire month with black creators or characters, because that’d take diversity away from the rest of the year (and I feel the need to be politically correct on this site for some reason).

Later today, for instance, is a Groundhog Day related entry. We’ll see where we go from there.

I must add that Nat Turner is incredible. So much story is conveyed without words.

Amazing stuff, check it out!

Justice, Inc blew my damn mind the first time I read it. It’s too bad he doesn’t work in that style anymore, although I am a big fan of his computer-drawn work as well. You Are Here is just gorgeous to stare at.

Dunno if anyone’s looking at this page anymore (five days is a real stretch in internet time) but I just stumbled across a great little comic oddity that I’d never heard of before, altho damn do I ever wish I’d bought it:

http://pressrewind.wordpress.com/2007/02/05/89/

Kyle Baker, and KRS-One before he was (entirely) crazy. To someone like me who’s into comic books and rap music this is some kind of wonderful

George Herriman was black? I’ve been a KK fan for most of my life and had no idea.

I would also like to second the praises for the Helfer/Baker Shadow series, which I think is an unequalled run.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 12:24 pm

“Kyle Baker is the eight-time Eisner award winning writer/artist of such cool works as Why I Hate Saturn, You Are Here, King David, Nat Turner, The Cowboy Wally Show, and Plastic Man.”

He won it EIGHT times!!!
Wow!
Good for him.
WHY I HATE SATURN and THE COWBOY WALLY SHOW are among my favorite graphic novels.

And I agree that Helfer and Baker’s version of SHADOW was a great, fun and original read. It is very sad that it left unfinished. I think it was left in suspension so they could do their equally good JUSTICE INC two-issues limited series (featuring another pulp classic, the Avenger). For a time there was a promise of a one-shot special that would resolve the storyline plots but it never came out.

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