markus prime is reimagining iconic cartoon heroes as powerful black women

Meet the 30-year-old tearing up the gender and race rulebook when it comes to animation.

by Tish Weinstock
17 August 2016, 2:00am

Much like the superheroes he draws, 30-year-old Markus Prime wants to save the world. An avenger of the marginalised he's spent his life bringing visibility to those otherwise left in the shadows. Focusing on race and gender in particular, Markus spends each day reimagining iconic cartoon and comic heroes as powerful black female forces to be reckoned with, all of which have been chronicled in his new book B.R.U.H (Black Renditions of Universal Heroes) released earlier this year.

With over 169K followers on Instagram, Markus is becoming a force to be reckoned himself. Both Amandla Stenberg and Willow Smith are already huge fans, with Markus having leant his supersonic drawing skills for Amandla's own comic, NIOBE: She is Life #1.

Using his special drawing powers for the force of good, whether it's his illustrations of Afro Puff Girls, who love learning about black history from the Professor, or his police-busting #blacklivesmatter female superheroes, he's the superhero we've always dreamed of. Introducing the man behind the lycra mask: Markus Prime.

Tell me a bit about yourself and where you grew up?
I'm a preacher's kid and a military kid (raised by pastors who served in the military). I've lived all over the US and have been lucky enough to experience a lot of different lifestyles and cultures up close.

Have you always been interested in art?
Always. I've been drawing since I was a toddler. It just came naturally to me, I used to try and duplicate the pictures I saw in the Sunday newspaper or in my colouring books and my mother and grandmother continued to buy me pencils and paper.

Why illustration in particular?
Illustration is near and dear to my heart. My love for cartoons and comics makes illustration an easy choice for me. Painting is one thing, but something about being able express yourself through simplistic lines and curves really appeals to me.

Your work is quite political, where did this interest in society come from?
My interest in society has always been there; living all over the country I've been able to see a lot of tragedy and triumph from every angle. It's given a wide range of perspective and so I've almost had no choice but to be interested.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I would describe my overall aesthetic as minimal and colourful.

What is it you're trying to do with your work?
I'm simply trying to make the black woman a common fixture within the illustration world. As superheroes, awesome fantasy characters, leaders you name it!

What's the story behind B. R. U. H?
It was me deciding to take a lot of my superhero flips and make a keepsake for others to enjoy them as much as I do. I wanted people to understand the importance of representation.

Why superheroes?
I chose superheroes simply because I felt like there weren't enough black women.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by so much. Anime was my biggest thing along with animation and comics!

What's been your most memorable career moment to date?
Right now my most memorable moment is the tour I just finished for B.R.U.H. It was such a pleasure to be able to connect with so many of my supporters!

What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
The bravest thing you can do as a young be yourself.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
If I could change one thing about the world it would be an increase in empathy.

What do you stand for?
I stand for self-expression. I stand for creativity.

What are you currently working on?
I'm working on trying to get an original cartoon going! It's GOING TO HAPPEN!


Text Tish Weinstock

markus prime
black renditions of universal heroes