Comic Spotlight

Comics Kingdom Celebrates Black History Month: Spotlighting Influential Black Voices in Comics

By Nadya Martinez
Comics Kingdom Celebrates Black History Month: Spotlighting Influential Black Voices in Comics

Happy Black History Month!

At Comics Kingdom, we’re excited as we celebrate Black History Month. It’s a special time for us to shine the spotlight on the incredible black voices and creators who have shaped our world of comics. These talented individuals have enriched the Comics Kingdom legacy and brought us joy, laughter, and thought-provoking stories through their art.

Black History Month is a time to honor and celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. history. It’s also a crucial period for engaging in meaningful conversations about racism, slavery, equality, and the remarkable black leaders whose legacies continue to inspire us every day.

Comics are like little packets of joy, and here at Comics Kingdom, we’re proud to be a melting pot of cartoon creativity. Each comic strip we house tells a story rich with emotion, humor, and, sometimes, a little bit of magic. This month, we’re excited to share a curated list of comics from some of our cherished and exceptionally talented black creators. Their work ranges from the hilariously relatable to the beautifully fantastical, often inspired by personal experiences and life’s many twists and turns.

These strips offer a window into diverse perspectives on family, community, race, and more, weaving new tales while paying homage to decades of universally acclaimed and influential comics.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into our collection, expand your horizons, and connect with the heart and soul of our community. We’re highlighting five amazing artists this month: Ray Billingsley (creator of ‘Curtis’), George Gant (‘Beware of Toddler’), Darrin Bell (‘Candorville’), Bianca Xuniese (Tuesday artist for ‘Six Chix’), and the legendary Ted Shearer (‘Quincy’). Their stories await your eager eyes!


Veteran cartoonist and comic artist Raymond Curtis Billingsley is an African American cartoonist best known for creating the comic strip CURTIS. Debuting in 1988, Curtis was one of the first nationally syndicated comic strips to feature a mostly black cast. 

Now the strip is distributed by digital platform King Features Syndicate and is widely read in print with more than 250 newspapers worldwide. However, it was difficult for a young Billingsley as a black cartoonist struggling to get a chance to portray his people through his work. 


Black History Month has always been an interest of mine, even though I know it’s a subject not everyone is open-minded enough to accept. It’s a time when characters like mine have a responsibility to respond with actions and feelings that are appropriate, for it affects them directly.

~Ray Billingsley, Editors Dispatch 02/08/2016

Curtis is a comic strip that details the day-to-day life of a close-knit contemporary African-American family living in a brownstone in the inner city. Billingsley draws from real life as he uses his own tight-knit childhood of growing up in Harlem, New York as a template for Curtis. Some of the experiences and featured characters throughout the strip are influenced directly by real people and events the author has experienced. The comic strip has a fresh quality of situational humor mixed with exaggerated melodrama and comedy. 

The strip depicts the urban city living of the Wilkins family and their everyday lives. The comic does not fall into any particular category, although it mainly features children it isn’t necessarily a children’s story. Curtis can be humorous and thought-provoking, yet still touch upon important subject matter while still having bursts of pure joy and unconventional fantasy. 

Greg Wilkins (Curtis’ father) is a workaholic who juggles work, providing for his family, and keeping his children on the straight and narrow path. His wife, Diane Wilkins is the true backbone of the family and doesn’t take any nonsense, she keeps a tight grip on her household and family. 

The series star is Curtis, a good-natured yet mischievous 11-year old whose ideas of fun usually wind up in a humorous catastrophe. Curtis, along with his younger brother Barry, a true mama’s boy, are kids growing up in the big city and navigating their way through adolescence.

Billingsley finds inspiration for the strip from his life, childhood memories, local barbershop encounters, friends and small-town gossip. He portrays Curtis’ ups and downs of life with his brother, his parents, and growing up. He also depicts important and serious social issues through Curtis’ confrontations.

The series is best welcomed by modern free-thinkers who appreciate it for the work of art it is. The strip is known for its witty approach, satire, and unexpected twists in its storylines. Billingsley has received many awards, including The President’s Award from the American Lung Association, the Humanitarian Award from the American Lung Association, the Society for Public Health Education, and the NAACP Arts & Entertainment Achievement Award.

2. GEORGE GANT (Beware of Toddler)

One of our newer strips, BEWARE OF TODDLER, is an all-ages weekly comic strip created by Award-winning and Chicago-based cartoonist George Gant, following a stay-at-home dad and a wild two-year-old.

In June 2022, on Father’s Day, Beware of Toddler made its debut on King Features Syndicate on the Comics Kingdom platform, and in early 2023, began appearing in print media. Gant who has been drawing webcomics way before his self-published series, was inspired by the likes of The Boondocks, and Penny Arcade.

Beware of Toddler started in 2019 after a random game of hide-and-seek with his then two-year-old daughter. The experience inspired him to draw a comic about it and to share other experiences that would resonate with parents around the world and show more commonalities than differences.

Beware of Toddler is a humorous and universally relatable story of father hood, featuring relatable parenting adventures of a stay-at-home dad trying to survive daily life at his home with his wild two year old daughter. The strip includes topics drawn from his experiences with black parenthood. The popular strip has gained a loyal following over the years and has been nominated for three Glyph Awards, a Webtoon Canvas Award, and a Ringo Award.

From crayon-based cuisine to impromptu games of hide-and-seek, The Toddler spends her days tormenting her father in a never-ending pursuit of cookies and juice. Beware of Toddler is Based on creator George Gant’s experiences as a stay-at-home parent.

Gant takes any situation related to parenting and makes it humorous or insightful while still making sure its appropriate for all ages. The series is full of vibrant, whimsical, and humorous adventures.

3. DARRIN BELL (Candorville)

Darrin Bell, the Pulitzer prize-winning American editorial cartoonist known for the syndicated comic strips CANDORVILLE and Rudy Park, is the first African American to have two comic strips syndicated nationally. In 2019, he became the first black person to win the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and his beloved series Candorville has marked its 20th Anniversary. In 2022 Candorville joined KFS.

Candorville, launched in 2003 by The Washington Post Writers Group, features young black and Latino characters living in the inner city. The insightful comic strip with edgy dialogue and modern situations presents social and political commentary and the stories of its protagonists. The series offers an insightful look at family, community, and race through the eyes of its main character, Lemont Brown.

Lemont is a talented young black writer who began regularly submitting articles to The New Yorker, and was regularly humiliated with rejection. Lemont is thoughtful, responsible, and clever and cares deeply about the world and his small circle of friends. He is obsessed with science fiction and is the consummate nerd.

While Bell delves into controversial issues the wit and humor of the strip will also draw readers in. Candorville covers such heavy issues as bigotry, poverty, homelessness, and more while never losing sight of the humor behind these weighty issues. The strip targets and tackles these socially conscious issues with irony, satire, and humor.

During most of Bell’s high school years, when urban school districts were being desegregated, he took the bus to schools as far as two hours away. “We were always minorities in every neighborhood we lived in, which I think opened my eyes a bit more to the rest of the world, he says. I’ve always had friends who were different from me, so I have a lot of respect for diversity.” When Darrin enrolled at Berkeley in 1993, he developed the concept for a strip called Lemont Brown, which evolved into Candorville.

Bell won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning for beautiful and daring editorial cartoons that took on issues affecting disenfranchised communities, calling out lies, hypocrisy, and fraud in the political turmoil surrounding the Trump administration.  In 2023, he was nominated for a 2022 National Cartoonists Society Divisional Award for Newspaper Comics Strip for his work on Candorville.

4. BIANCA XUNISE (Draws Tuesdays Six Chix)

Another new addition to the Comics Kingdom family is Bianca Xunise, a self-described “goth of color” and illustrator and cartoonist based out of Chicago, Illinois. Her work is nationally syndicated through the SIX CHIX collaborative comic strip. In 2020, she became the second black woman contributing to a nationally syndicated comic strip, and she became the first black nonbinary cartoonist to be nationally syndicated.   

Bianca draws the Tuesdays strips for the unique daily strip Six Chix, which is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate Sunday’s. The look and feel of the strip varies greatly amongst the different styles with no particular attempt to introduce any thematic cohesiveness. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her own style and perspective. You may read gags about the economy, technology, zombies, or even health with a comedic female lead. 

What started in 2000 as the brainchild of the late Jay Kennedy who was also formerly the editor-in-chief of King Features, went on to receive a nomination for Best Newspaper Comic Strip of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 2014. Jay made it his focus to bring more women creators and readers to comics.

Bianca’s distinctive style is classic simple pencil sketches with a little splash of color. Their strips sometimes continuous are full of very dry humor, honest and sarcastic jokes with primarily a focus on the plight and daily struggles of a young black feminist weirdo in modern society. Bianca’s work is whimsy, honest and powerful with deeper messages in their doodles. Bianca also has a relatable slice of life monthly column featured at Shondaland. Their writing features a deeper more complex and nuanced narrative of themes such as police brutality, mental health, and capitalism which has garnered Bianca an Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent. 

Bianca has been featured in Vogue, Ford, NYLON, Essence, The Washington Post, and more, with contributing work on the book How We Fight Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance along with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tarana Burk, and Harry Belafonte.

5. TED SHEARER (Quincy)

A very significant strip from a very different time was QUINCY, written and drawn by pioneer black cartoonist, Ted Shearer (1919-1992). The late Ted Shearer, illustrator, cartoonist, painter and director died at 73 in 1992. His vintage series QUINCY was one of the first mainstream, big syndicate strips created by a black cartoonist and was also one of the earliest mainstream comic strips to star an African-American in the lead role. The newspaper comic strip published from 1970 until his retirement in 1986.


The sixteen year run helped paved the way for the current generation of successfully syndicated African-American artists. The evocatively written strip made its debut in 1970, and featured an integrated cast of racially diverse inner-city neighborhood kids who hang out together. 

The series focused on a nine or 10-year-old boy “Quincy” being raised by his grandmother, Granny Dixon, in Harlem and living just above the poverty line. Quincy stays bright, upbeat, and optimistic with a lighthearted perspective. The series also features characters such as his younger brother Lil Bo’ his girlfriend Viola, and his friends Sneeze and Nickles. 

His heavily stylized comic strips featured an almost Noir-ish look with his emphasis on heavy deep shadows in his black and white layouts, and his creative use of the ziptone shading technique (alternative to hatching). His strong backgrounds and designs jumped right off the pages.

Born in Jamaica Shearer, was raised in Harlem himself and had a very distinct understanding of the city life. He once drew strips for the Continental Features Syndicate, which served the many black-interest newspapers that existed during the years of cultural segregation. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Shearer pursued a career in advertising art. His big moment came when during his long train commutes, he toyed around with doing a strip, about an eight-year-old boy living in the big city, much like his own childhood. A fellow commuter and a King Features staff artist, William Gillmartin, was impressed with his work and got Shearer into syndicated cartooning again with QUINCY.

Get your daily dose of comics online at Comics Kingdom with QUINCY and thousands more! Get drawn in!