Black Panther is set to own the 2018 box office when it debuts nationwide in a few weeks. The timing of its release during Black History Month makes it even more significant.
It seems everyone knows about the superhero flick based on the comic book from the 1960s – but little is known about one of the industry’s most iconic comic book artists — Matt Baker.
Baker was a Hall-of-Fame illustrator for much of the 1940s and 50s, the time period regularly referred to as comic books’ ‘Golden Age.’
Born in North Carolina in the 1920s, Baker would later attend New York’s prestigious Cooper Union School of Art. Baker was one of the first known and successful Black comic book artists of his time.
He worked mostly as a freelance artist for major comic book publishing houses. The comic he is widely recognized for is Phantom Lady.
Baker perfected the “good girl” art style and is widely credited for a boom in the comic’s sales. His provocative and sensual portrayal of women on the covers of several comics would later earn him condemnation from Dr. Fredric Wertham, a leading psychiatrist who thought comics were bad for kids.
But Baker’s illustrations resonated nonetheless. He also is other notable work includes the “military-humor” title “Canteen Kate” and “Rhymes With Lust.” (which is considered by some to be the first graphic novel.)
According to a lengthy profile of Baker on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website, “Baker was an icon of the Golden Age of comics. He shaped women into classy, realistic beauties, equally full of character and staring in their own stories, as opposed to the accessories that they often were portrayed as in other comics of the time.”
Baker died of a heart attack at the age of 37.
Check out theGrio.com’s #HiddenHeroes all this month!