04/05/2018

Sally here with “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story”, plus comics by Morrie Turner, Brumsic Brandon Jr., and Ted Shearer! 

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Yesterday we marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and PREVIEWSworld took the opportunity to share a particularly important comic – Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story(above).

In the late 1950s, as the Civil Rights Movement was gaining strength throughout the country, the peace organization The Fellowship of Reconciliation saw the need to promote their philosophy of nonviolent resistance to as many people as possible. To accomplish this, they used one of the most accessible formats of the day – the comic book – to tell the story of the successful bus boycotts by African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, and the man who helped inspire them.

Originally handed out in churches and nonviolence workshops, this comic was a powerful inspiration to many. You can read the whole thing HERE.

The creation of the comic is a pretty interesting story in itself. Originally conceived by a man who didn’t allow his own kids to read comics – Alfred Hassler – it was meant to help convey the ideas of the Civil Rights Movement to the semiliterate. The comic soon became something much greater than anyone would have guessed. You can read a very thorough examination of it’s history and influence HERE. It is interesting to note that the identity of the artist who drew the comic has been entirely lost.

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story helped inspire John Lewis to write the award winning March trilogy, with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. Check out that comic HERE.

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Morrie Turner, creator of Wee Pals

Wee Pals

There were a couple of cartoonists who found their work in much greater demand immediately following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. – a bittersweet turn of events, for sure.

Morrie Turner had a strip called Wee Pals (above), which was syndicated an 4-5 papers in the mid-60’s. It was considered “subversive” because it featured a diverse cast of childhood playmates. He had in fact been encouraged by his friend Charles Schulz to create the strip, after Turner had complained about the lack of black characters in newspaper comics. When Martin Luther King Jr. died, in short order nearly 100 papers picked up his strip. Morrie Turner continued to draw the strip well into his 80’s. You can read more about him HERE.

Luther

Brumsic Brandon Jr.‘s strip Luther was also picked up by numerous papers in the late 60’s, remaining in syndication for two decades. It’s cast of characters were from a poor neighborhood and were a bit more “streetwise” than Morrie Turner’s. Read more about Brumsic Brandon Jr. HERE.

I’ve encountered Wee Pals and Luther before, but another comic by a black creator that was in newspapers at the time was new to me. Ted Shearer‘s Quincy appeared in 1970. He had made a variety of strips over the years, aimed at an adult audience, and they had appeared in numerous publications. Before Quincy took off, Shearer was working in an ad agency, but with the success of the strip – which, like Turner’s and Brandon’s comics, featured black kids commenting on life as they experienced it – he was able to focus on Quincy exclusively. He enjoyed syndication for 16 years. I’d really like to find the collection that was published in 1972, but for now you can see a selection of strips that kind souls have scanned and shared on the web HERE.

Read more about Ted Shearer HERE.

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Announcing the Spring Semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers

8 weeks! $500 bux! 10 spots available!

Rolling start date because of spring break – start NOW!

Deadline to apply is April 12th.

Read all about the course HERE and email santoroschool@gmail.com for more details or to apply.

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Joanie and Jordie – 4-5-2018 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Sally Ingraham

Sally Ingraham

Sally is a cartoonist, educator, and journalist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She makes comics about Pittsburgh and bird watching, and co-writes the "Suzy and Cecil" daily strip (with Gabriella Tito). She facilitates the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency, is a managing editor of the CW Daily News, and runs the CW Roller Derby "of the mind" League. She is focused on documenting the current and historic place of women in the comics industry, is working to build the Women's Comics Library, and is developing a comics curriculum by and for girls.
Sally Ingraham

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