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
Spotlight on African American Cartoonists, from 1993 issue of Ebony:
Morrie Turner, who’s still working at age 89 (at the time of this article).