Saving Ms. Banks

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It’s not often that my previous subjects intersect like this, but the arts always find a way sneak itself into our daily lives more often than we give it credit.

BrendaBanks

Brenda Banks was an animator whose resume included The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and several Ralph Bakshi films. While she holds the title of third Female African American animator ever in the industry, there is a much more pressing reason to share her story:

Brenda Banks is missing.

No one knows where she is. She has not been accounted for online, by family or by any of her former colleagues. Other than an article on Cartoon Research, there is not much on her missing person’s case. A Brenda Banks does show up on The Doe Network, a database which collects information on missing and unidentified persons:

http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/3343dfla.html

While the person on file fits the animator’s descriptions, it can’t be confirmed if this is the same Brenda Banks. The biggest is disqualifier her last known appearance in 1986 while the animator’s last credit was in 2005. Either way, The Doe Network is one of many databases to search, so it’s a start.

For someone who paved the way for African-American female animators, Brenda’s situation deserves more attention. If she is taking the reclusive life, it would be great if a friend or relative just let us know that she’s alive and well. I hope any forensic reconstructive artists out there can create an age progression of Ms. Banks, just in case. Paging JudeMaris .

If you do know have any information about Brenda’s whereabouts, or know anyone who worked with Ms. Banks as recent as 2005, please contact Jerry Beck at Cartoon Research: http://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/contact/

More info on Brenda Banks and other female animators from The Mary Sue:
https://www.themarysue.com/history-women-in-animation/

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A Month of African-American Cartoonists

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For February, I bring you a selection of black cartoonists. No, not Aaron McGruder, but the ones who paved the way for him.

During the Jim Crow Era, African Americans created their own version of whatever was not available to them among the larger society, and cartoons were no exceptions. As did so many American publications,  Ebony, Jet and The Afro-American hired cartoonists who provided a window into the black perspective on everyday life and social or political situations during both the Jim Crow era and throughout the Civil Rights movement.

After integration opened more opportunities, the world of mainstream cartoon syndication was not immune from the obstacles of on-the-job discrimination. Many Black cartoonists began submitting to mainstream syndicates, many found that they would be rejected on the grounds that another black cartoonist was already on the payroll (Ebony, Nov 1966 ). Absurd excuses didn’t stop them, though, and the persistence to find fair work paid off. From their hard work we got great artists like:

Zelda “Jackie” Ormes of Torchy Brown, and Patty Jo and Ginger
Robb Armstrong of JumpStart
Stephen Bently of Herb & Jamal
Ray Billingsley of Curtis
Barbara Brandon of Where I’m Comin From
Morrie Turner of Wee Pals (whom, as of this post is still working the young age of 89)
Buck Brown, who illustrated for Playboy, Jet and Ebony.
Bumsic Brandon Jr., who creator of Luther

Check out the links below and learn more about these African American men and women didn’t let the barriers of prejudice or discouragement keep them from to pursuing their passion:

The work of Jackie Ormes

http://www.jackieormes.com/

Spotlight on African American Cartoonists, from 1993 issue of Ebony:

https://books.google.com/books?id=EtQDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=Black+Cartoonist+ebony+magazine&source=bl&ots=EwW9QzzSbR&sig=rv1ylAYM3lV8o1AunJpdHDlIbDg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Wya9VKO1FsyzggTT74OwCw&ved=0CB8Q6AEwBg

Morrie Turner, who’s still working at age 89 (at the time of this article).
http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/12/30/at-89-first-nationally-syndicated-black-cartoonist-still-drawing-and-giving-back/

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