Neil Knight was the first Black Astronaut / Space Adventurer to be featured in a comic strip.

Neil Knight 129a

Neil Knight was also one of the first Black heroes to appear in a comic strip.

Neil Knight was a new comic strip created for the Pittsburgh Courier’s new color comic section that premiered on August 19, 1950.  The color comic section was produced by the Smith-Mann Syndicate and only appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the biggest Black newspapers in the country at that time.

Neil Knight was part of a quartet of Vintage Black Heroes, along with Guy FortuneMark Hunt and The Chisholm Kid, that appeared in the color comic section.

Credited only to ‘Carl and Mac’, the feature outlasted the section which ended in 1954, and continued in a daily-style black and white format. The last raygun was fired on October 22, 1955. The “Carl” is Carl Pfeufer. His credits include the Flash Gordon clone Don Dixon, done for the Brooklyn Eagle-based Watkins Syndicate, and Bantam Prince for the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate.

The Neil Knight Story:

  • Rockets through space to dangers unknown to mortal man
  • Character was originally Neil Knight Of The Air, a famed flyer reminiscent of the Tuskegee Airmen, before he became the first Black space traveller

We are not exactly sure how he or his comic strip made this transition. In the only Neil Knight Of The Air comic strip that we have seen, Neil Knight the famed flyer is a prisoner who has been framed on a trumped up narcotics smuggling charge. In a subsequent Neil Knight comic strip he captures his captors and heads back to America to clear his name, where it looks like he might meet his end from an attack by American fighter planes. In later comic strips he is Neil Knight, defender of the planet Trinium.

Also of interest is the character Zana, daughter of Krsy the leader of the planet Trinium. We believe she is probably the first female of color to be featured in a comic about outer space.

Neil Knight is similar to comic contemporaries Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon.

The Museum Of UnCut Funk sends out a special thank you to Allan Holtz at the Stripper’s Guide for allowing us to repost information from his articles on the Smith-Mann Syndicate.

Source: Allan Holtz; Copyright  Allan Holtz 2013 The Strippers Guide


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