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…
58. Christopher Priest
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.
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.
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.