Usually when one hears of blacks in comics, Storm, the Nubian member of the famous X- Men series or Aaron McGruder immediately come to mind. What most people don’t know is that there were creative black minds working behind the scenes for years. Billy Graham was one of these influential artists, whose characters first became popular in the 1960s.
Graham was working at Warren comics where he spent some time as art director and contributed to the risque horror series, Vampirella. He was also picked up on some strips at EERIE magazine. In the early 70s, Graham moved to Marvel Comics, where he helped create the character Luke Cage. During his tenure at Marvel, he also worked with Don McGregor on a volume in the Black Panther series, Jungle Action, one of the most read appearances of the character ever.. One story line, Panther’s Rage is heralded by many comic aficionados as the best representation of that character ever. For the comic illiterate, Black Panther was the first black superhero that was conceptualized by someone within the Diaspora.
In the 1980s he worked with McGregor again in the conceptualization of the Sabre comic at Eclipse Comics, and worked on many Marvel magazine ventures and comic guides. His artwork is often appreciated for the realistic features in his characters proportions and figures and detail in relaying their facial expression. The rough quality of his lines create a dynamic movement on the page and a raw feel that is not easily rendered. After his successful career, Graham passed in 1999, but his characters and images will forever live on.