The comic book industry is hot these days. Comic books are the source of video games, TV shows and billion-dollar movie franchises.
And even though the industry has a large roster of characters, DC Comics recently released a new book featuring an African-American heroine. “Naomi” is about a young Black woman who starts to question her background after Superman and Mongul, a DC supervillain, crashland in her small town.
The book is authored by David Walker, who is biracial, and comic legend Brian Michael Bendis, creator of Miles Morales, the Spiderman of the Ultimate Universe. The artwork was done by Jamal Campbell.
Walker is a veteran of the comic book industry who has written for Cyborg and Powerman and Ironfist. He also wrote “The Life of Frederick Douglass,” a graphic novel published by Ten Speed Press.
However, he was excited about writing about Naomi, a completely new character.
“We wanted that challenge of creating a brand new character,” said Walker.
Apart from being a Black woman, Naomi is female, which is a welcome change in an industry that has been accused of focusing on White, male characters.
Walker also attends comic book convention and interacts with fans and readers. He added it was nice to create a character that many young readers can identify with.
“Part of what I wanted to do for my next big project was to create a character that was not like any other characters in DC,” said Walker.
One of the underlying themes of Naomi is discovering your identity. The main character is adopted and she identifies with Superman, who is the most famous adopted character in the D.C. Universe.
“The biggest theme is exploration of yourself and unlocking your potential,” said Walker, who counts James Baldwin, Walter Mosley, Will Eisner, a legendary comic book author, and screenwriter Billy Wilder as some of his influences.
Although the comic book just came out, it has already gained a lot of positive media attention.
“The reaction this character has gotten has been far greater than anything I could have asked for,” said Walker.
Naomi’s co-writers teach together at Portland State University, and their first comic book collaboration showcases how well their storytelling styles mesh. They both have a talent for quick, playful banter, and this first issue strikes a fine balance between dialogue-heavy scenes and stripped-down moments that immerse readers in the setting or a specific state of mind.
Walker grew up reading comics and started working in the comic book industry in 2005. He admits that the industry has changed a lot over the years. Now readers can download their comics straight to phones and iPads, but he admits that he is still a fan of the printed word.
The next issue of “Naomi” is available on Feb. 20. The first issue of the comic book sold out.