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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Comic illustrator reaches out to history
 
Published Thursday, June 21, 2007
by Cheris F. Hodges

Kyle Baker may not shoot webs from his wrists or gamma rays from his eyes, but he is a king of comics.

And one of the few African Americans to have success in the world of comics and aninmation.

Since he was 18 years old, he’s been working at Marvel Comics and though it may seem strange, Baker likes making heroes from real things.


Illustration/Kyle Baker

Like Nat Turner and his family, the Bakers.

“I do the kinds of books that I would buy,” he said.

Baker’s book, “Nat Turner” tells the story of the slave revolt leader. Baker said he chose to create a graphic novel about Turner because there was so much action surrounding his story.

“I would like to see (comic books and graphic novels) in schools. It’s a great way for kids to learn how to read,” he said.

Over the last decade, there has been a shift in the comic book universe, Baker said. Before movie studios developed killer special effects, the only place that action junkies could see big explosions and huge clashes of titans were between the pages of comic books. “Special effects used to suck,” Baker said. “We can’t compete with Hollywood now.”

That’s one reason why he’s put a more realistic slant to his comics of late. Baker said he’d like to do another historic graphic novel, maybe of Fredrick Douglass.

“I just don’t know how I would illustrate it,” he said. “The reason I chose Nat Turner was because of the action.”

Aside from comics, Baker illustrated “Birth of A Nation,” a graphic novel written by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin, published by Crown Books. McGruder is the creator of “Boondocks.”

Hudlin is the president of entertainment at BET.

Baker co-created Truth for Marvel Comics, illustrating the World War II story of the first black Captain America. The comic book received attention from CNN, NPR, Time amd The New York Times.

On the net:
www.kylebaker.com

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