Paule Marshall, 90, who channeled the often marginalized experiences of women, African-Americans and West Indians into lyrical, passionate and politically charged fiction, notably in her debut novel "Brown Girl, Brownstones," died Aug. 12 at a care center in Richmond, Va.
Marshall's death comes one week after that of Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist of "Beloved" and "Song of Solomon."
"This is a grieving season for Black literature," Imani Perry, a Princeton University professor of black studies, said on Twitter.
The daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Marshall wrote about race, gender and cultural identity, focusing on the African diaspora in the Caribbean and United States. Her protagonists were almost always women — black women — who possessed a power and self-assurance that was rarely seen in print when she began writing in the 1950s.
Although Marshall's fiction was never polemical, her work examined racism, colonialism and what she described as an oppressive, far-reaching system of financial exploitation.
She was perhaps best known for her 1959 debut, "Brown Girl, Brownstones," a coming-of-age story that many critics consider "the beginning of contemporary African-American women's writings," according to "The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature."
A methodical writer who sometimes spent two weeks searching for the appropriate word, Marshall went years without publishing, only to release a new novel or story collection that reverberated among critics and fellow authors.
Her second novel, "The Chosen Place, the Timeless People" (1969), explored the tension between tradition and modernization on a Caribbean island and was praised by New York Times reviewer Robert Bone as "the best novel to be written by an American black woman."
It was followed by "Praisesong for the Widow" (1983), an American Book Award-winning story of a woman's spiritual rebirth on Carriacou, an island in the Grenadines.
Marshall drew praise from poets Dorothy Parker and Langston Hughes, who invited her on a 1965 cultural tour to Europe, as well as novelist Alice Walker, who wrote that Marshall was "unequaled in intelligence, vision, craft by anyone of her generation."
Marshall was born Valenza Pauline Burke in Brooklyn on April 9, 1929. Her father juggled low-paying jobs and left the family when Pauline was 11, joining Father Divine's evangelical "kingdom" in Harlem. Her mother was a housekeeper who spent her days "scrubbing floor," as her mother and her friends put it, to earn "a few raw-mouth pennies."
"I grew up among poets," Marshall wrote in a 1983 essay for the Times, recalling the formative hours she spent in the kitchen, where the neighborhood mothers talked "endlessly, passionately, poetically and with impressive range."
Marshall went on to combine the rich vernacular of her childhood kitchen with a literary sensibility, inspired by writers such as black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Marshall was active in the civil rights and black nationalist movements and contributed to Freedomways, a leading black journal, in the 1960s. She later taught English and creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and New York University and received fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations.
Ernie Colón, 88, a comic book artist who was known to his fans for drawing Richie Rich and a warrior princess but who found an unlikely and even wider readership with a bestselling adaptation of "The 9/11 Commission Report," died on Aug. 8 at his home in Huntington, N.Y.
The cause was colorectal cancer diagnosed last year.
Colón teamed up with writer Sid Jacobson, his longtime collaborator and friend, to create a graphic novel version of the 9/11 report, the government-commissioned study, headed by former Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey, that became a surprise bestseller in 2004, three years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In their "9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation," published two years later, Colón and Jacobson turned a long and dense government document into an accessible, visually striking book that itself became a bestseller on the New York Times paperback nonfiction list.
In vivid and dramatic detail, the book chronicles the events of Sept. 11, 2001, tracking the four jetliners that had been hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists until three struck their targets and the fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers on it had tried to seize control. Government officials are also depicted and quoted, in conventional word balloons.
Ernie Colón Sierra was born on July 13, 1931, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His father, Ernesto Colón, was a police detective; his mother, Isabel Sierra, was a textile worker and a bank teller. He acquired a love of storytelling from one grandfather, who owned three movie theaters.
Colón began his career in 1955, when he was hired by the cartoonist Ham Fisher to ink backgrounds for the Joe Palooka newspaper strip, but the assignment came to a sudden end with Fisher's suicide in December of that year.
He then moved to Harvey Comics, where, working in the production department, he began drawing — initially uncredited — page after page for the company's line of children's comics, including Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich.
In a 2007 interview with the Comics Journal, Colón estimated that he had drawn around 15,000 pages for Harvey. While there, he met Jacobson, a Harvey staff editor who would become a collaborator and lifelong friend.
The men created several nonfiction books, including biographies of Che Guevara and Anne Frank and "The Torture Report: A Graphic Adaptation" (2017), an illustrated summary of a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's torture of terrorism suspects.
Colón created his warrior princess, Amethyst, at DC Comics, working with writers Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin. The series tells the story of a teenager, Amy Wilson, who discovers that she comes from another, magical world, having been sent to Earth for her safety after her parents were murdered. She returns to her home planet, Gemworld, to free its inhabitants in thrall to the villain Dark Opal. The character Amethyst, first published by DC in 1983 with appearances in a handful of limited series, is now in the middle of a revival. She was in a series of DC Nation animated shorts in 2013 and this year became part of Young Justice, a team of superheroes with connections to those of the Justice League.
Roy Thomas, who collaborated with Colón on the American Indian character Arak, Son of Thunder, for DC Comics in 1981, said that Colón handled humor and drama with "equal dexterity."