Sally here with comics from The Pittsburgh Courier and Oliver Harrington, plus other comics and persons of interest.
I came across a great article on Blavity from earlier this year about our mostly forgotten black political cartoonists – including Oliver Harrington (his work seen above) who some consider to be the greatest political cartoonist of all time. In the 1940’s and ’50s many black political cartoonists voiced powerful and unpopular opinions in publications like The Amsterdam News and The Chicago Defender. Strong anti-racist views made artists like Harrington targets during the McCarthy era however, and like many artists before him, he went into self-exile in Paris. Other cartoonists from that period to remember are Bill Chase and Jan Jackson.
“Jan Jackson’s cartoon of two American soldiers running across the Atlantic Ocean to save a European white woman in chains as they turn their back to an American black woman in chains speaks to the selective grieving and racism which were both rampant during the WWII era.” – Orit Mohamed via Blavity
Demanding the necessary viewpoint of the black political cartoonist – needed now more than ever before – and bemoaning the lack of a single full-time black cartoonist in any American daily newspapers (as pointed out earlier by Michael Cavna in The Washington Post), the author of the article presents a list of artists working today, including Keith Knight, Cory Thomas, Darrin Bell, Chris Kindred, and Shannon Wright.
I knew that The Pittsburgh Courier was another famous Black newspaper from the 20th century, so I went to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to look at copies of the paper on microfilm. “I’m here for the comics!” I told the librarian who helped me out.
I picked a roll of film somewhat at random, and was soon browsing through 1945 newspapers. I found comics by Oliver Harrington, as well as other cartoonists of the time. Here’s the “funny pages” from March 31st, 1945:
And here is the same paper’s edition of Harrington’s Dark Laughter comic, staring Bootsie:
Later on in Harrington’s Jive Gray strip, the pilot (Jive Gray) has been shot down, but he runs into the person he was sent on mission to find – a female Colonel!
I’ll have to go back to the library soon and get printouts of some of these comics – apologies for bad photos of microfilm! But it is a real treat to see these comics “in person” at my local library and get a sense of the time and cartoonists who were being published in national newspapers.
More to come next week, including some of Jackie Ormes‘ comics!
Yona Harvey was kind enough to stop by the monthly meeting of the Pittsburgh Comics Salon last night, and I had the pleasure of running her and the other attendees through a classic Comics Workbook drill.
The comics community in Pittsburgh is constantly evolving, and is full of an energy that is pretty unique. It’s a place where a talented poet like Yona (who has written stories set in the world of Marvel’s The Black Panther) can spar with Jonas Goonface (currently finishing up a comic series with Boom! Studios) and I (who is publishing the 248th Suzy and Cecil strip below!) and each one of us can challenge and inspire the other. The entire city of Pittsburgh is a comics academy. Join us!
Another way to jump into our floating comics academy is to participate in thee Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017. Now in it’s 5th year, this iteration is a riff on the 6-panel grid, in the traditional North American comic book size – but with a twist!
Suzy and Cecil – 8-3-2017 – by Sally Ingraham
Joanie and Jordie – 8-3-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio