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365 Reasons to Love Comics #58

Today’s featured creator almost didn’t make the list. Why so? And how’d he finally get the green light? Because you demanded it! And because I did some thinking…

2/27/07

58. Christopher Priest

Priest 1.jpg

Christopher Priest, a.k.a. Jim Owsley, has been continually mentioned in these Black History Month entries, because, like a lot of black creators, he ends up in charge of seemingly every black character. That’s true. I almost didn’t give him his own entry. For one thing, yeah, I think he’s a solid creator, but was he great enough to become a reason to love comics? Two, I’d already covered a lot of his notable work… what else was left to go over? I agonized over this one, and eventually decided to go for it. So why’d I do that?

Priest– and this is the comics Priest, not the British guy who wrote The Prestige– has done it all. Remember Power Man? He wrote Power Man & Iron Fist! Remember the Falcon? He wrote his original mini and the Captain America & Falcon series. War Machine? Wrote him, in the pages of the Crew. Steel? Wrote him. Black Panther? Wrote the definitive run. Besides that, he’s also written Spider-Man, Batman, Conan the Barbarian, Green Lantern, Justice League Task Force, The Ray, the Unknown Soldier, Deadpool, Triumph, and, of course, Quantum & Woody. That’s just scratching the surface, by the way. He’s done everything else in between.

Priest 3.jpg

Back when he was still Jim Owsley, he became the first African-American editor in the comics industry, running the Spider-Man line. Priest deeply regrets a lot of mistakes he made during this time, but he was also the guy that originally brought Peter David onto the Spider-books. He also edited the fan-favorite !mpact line for DC, and was one of the original co-creators the Milestone imprint.

Besides that, he’s a music producer and a Baptist minister (The Reverend Priest, heh).

He’s done more for black characters in comics than anyone else, promoting these great, underused, and underrated heroes as they rightfully should be. Sure, a lot of his series get cancelled out from under him, but that’s not Priest’s fault, it’s the market’s. He’s fighting the good fight. His work isn’t all about race, of course; he can also tell a ripping good yarn.

Priest 2.jpg

That’s why I changed my mind about Priest’s entry. He’s a creator producing fine work, he’s done an excellent job promoting and creating black characters in the industry, and he should really have a much higher profile than he does.

You can find his website at this link, but be warned, there may be a few “Not Safe for Work” images on there. Wouldn’t want my readers to get into trouble. If you’re in the pleasure of your own home, by all means, delve into the site. There’s a lot of good material to read there, as Priest talks in-depth about his comics work and beyond.

17 Comments

Xero is one of my all-time favorite books. He and Cross really nailed it on that.

Interesting. I wasn’t sure if he and the other Christopher Priest were the same guy or different. Thanks for clearing it up!

Oh, and I briefly checked out his site and didn’t see any Not Safe For Work images, but I believe you. I just wonder how NSFW stuff gets on a minister’s web site.

I can’t see this one at all. I don’t think I’ve ever found one of his comics any more than mediocre

The enthusiasm and fun that comes through in Priest’s writing is what makes him a reason to love comics.

Who else, in the last ten years could have pulled off using both the contemporary Black Panther and the Kirby Black Panther fighting off trolls in Asgard with a bunch of Marvel’s old Cowboy Super-heroes? No one! That scene makes him a reason to love comics alone.

A runner-up reason is the very start of his Deadpool run. I loved it when Deadpool threw away the bag of “every good idea Joe Kelly ever had, and everything that made this book work” in the first few pages. And then met up with all of the characters Priest used to write… all of them black.
If only that level of surreality could have extended to the rest of his run.

Oh, and I briefly checked out his site and didn’t see any Not Safe For Work images, but I believe you.

There was some boobage on the entry page, but I skipped past that and linked everybody to the index.

I remember a scene where Deadpool was incognito at Avengers Mansion, kidnapping Killpanther’s…panther…and accidentally getting Triathlon in the process?

“Hey, all riiiiiiiiight.”
She Hulk gives him the stink eye…
“I mean, OH MY GOD, that leopard just vanished!”

Or some damn thing. Good gag.

What are the odds that black history month is going to end tomorrow with a big look at Spawn?

What are the odds that black history month is going to end tomorrow with a big look at Spawn?

About 1 in, oh, Infinity.

The column’s called 365 Reasons to *Love* Comics, man.

It needs to be Darryl Banks. Seriously.

While I like Darryl Banks, what has be done aside from designing Kyle Rayner and Parallax?

Priest’s Black Panther run was awesome, even with Kasper Cole donning T’Challa’s gear and shooting people with gel bullets in the final year. So many good moments, but I keep flashing back to “Uptown,” with what Queen Divine Justice (one of Panther’s tribal brides…which he never actually got hot and heavy with) called “Old Homiez Night”; a major brawl with Power Man, Iron Fist, Falcon and Black Goliath. Also, QDJ ends up bouncing at a club with the Hulk. To quote Panther: “I may not survive this child.”

Awwww…does anybody miss Vincent? I got both of his “inaction figures.” Is that a good thing or a sad thing?

Alongside Keith Giffen, Owsley/Priest IS the exact reason I love comics. Hands down one of my two all-time favorite writers. Power Man & Iron Fist, Black Panther, Quantum & Woody, Xero… these are great, offbeat books. He expertly juggles humor, drama, politics, and topical issues without losing a strong P.O.V. He’s one of comics’ auteurs, in that you can’t mistake a Priest comic for being written by anyone else. It is always uniquely him.

Also, in the 80′s he wrote a great “How to be an editor” guide called “Edited by Owz” that was passed around Marvel and DC. I found a copy years ago, but it’d be great if it was somehow published officially.

Oh, and yes, I definitely miss Vincent. His caped “inaction figure” stares at me everyday on my desk.

What I’ve always loved about Christopher Priest is not so much his comics (which were good) but his editorial writing skills. I absolutely adored his editorials which he included on the letter pages of the books he edited. I haven’t read them in ages but I still laugh when I think of the one (in the original Ray miniseries) where he starts out with a numberical code and it turns out to be what he thinks should be the correct track order to the latest Prince album. They were brilliant.

His website articles on the comics industry are something to be cherished. Intelligent, incisive, thoughtful and authoritative and with a good sense of the absurdity of it all.

I love his attitude more than anything. He had on his website (I don’t see it there now) an article about editing comics an absolutely brilliant story of an artist calling him at home on the weekend to complain of how a spaceship was coloured pink. Priest told the artist he’d fix it on Monday. And he said (I’m paraphrasing): “And I did. First thing Monday morning, I went and got an unlisted phone number.”

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 4:04 pm

IAN: “Who else, in the last ten years could have pulled off using both the contemporary Black Panther and the Kirby Black Panther fighting off trolls in Asgard with a bunch of Marvel’s old Cowboy Super-heroes? No one! That scene makes him a reason to love comics alone.”

Cool! where was this published?

You know, I’d forgotten all about Triumph (no pun intended) until you mentioned him. But now that I think about it, aren’t he and Sentry basically the same character? The same concept, at the very least?

You forgot to mention he wrote Spider-Man vs Wolverine. That alone is enough to put him on this list.

Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

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