Sally here with the story of Orrin C. Evans and the first comic made and published by black creators, plus a Toon Book from Jaime Hernandez, and much more!
I was looking at a copy of Paul Gravett’s Holy Sh*t! The World’s Weirdest Comic Books recently, and discovered the remarkable story of Orrin C. Evans. He published the first comic book made by black artists, featuring black heroes, in 1947 (pictured above).
After a career in newspapers, one that already hade some “firsts” in it (he broke the color barrier when he became a reporter at the Philadelphia Record covering general assignments), Evans decided to turn his energy to the issue of black representation in comic books. He had the support of several former editors at the Philadelphia Record (which had folded by then over labor issues) and he put together a proper “bullpen”.
“He co-created the features in the comic along with the artists who included his brother, George J Evans Jr, two other Philadelphia cartoonists, one of whom was John Terrill, the other named Cooper, and a Baltimore artist who signed his work Cravat.” – Tom Christopher
Paul Gravett’s entry on the comic includes details about the stories and characters – Lion Man and Bubba, police detective Ace Harlem, and others:
The first issue was distributed around Philadelphia, and Evans eagerly got started on the second, completing all of the stories and art. Unfortunately, as noted above, it was never published because he lost access to the actual newsprint. Evans didn’t press the matter, having already faced death threats and other harassment due to articles he had written about segregation in the armed forces, among other things. And thus black representation in comics disappeared almost entirely until the mid-60s (when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought the Black Panther to life) and a comic made and published by a black creative team didn’t turn up again for even longer.
You can learn more about Orrin C. Evans by reading the rest of Tom Christopher’s article on Evans and All-Negro Comics HERE.
- Jaime Hernandez is doing a Toon Book! Coming in March, it riffs on “the classic works of F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada” – more details HERE.
- “Pioneering cartoonist Jackie Ormes and influential Marvel Marvel marketing manager Carol Kalish have been selected for induction into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2018.” The Comics Beat has the full story, plus a list of the other 16 nominees who have been announced – from which 4 will be selected and added later in the year.
- Paste Magazine has a preview of one of the comics coming from the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse – Incognegro: Renaissance #1, written by Mat Johnson and drawn by Warren Pleece. It is a prequel mini-series set before the events in their 2018 graphic novel. Both stories deal with black reporter Zane Pinchback, who can pass as white and uses this to investigate lynchings and other anti-black violence in the 1920s and 30s. See the preview HERE.
- Sloane Leong published her latest “dragnet” of comics on The Comics Journal – webcomics and paper, definitely some that I’ve been meaning to check out. See the list HERE.
- Silver Sprocket has announced a lineup of comics coming out soon, including a new hardcover 112 page volume that collects Ben Passmore’s political cartoons from The Nib and VICE along with his story Your Black Friend. See this project and 11 more from other cartoonists over on The Comics Beat.
- John Ridley, the screen-writer behind 12 Years a Slave and author of the DC series The American Way: Those Above and This Below, has a new project – The Other History of the DC Universe, which will examine some of the marginalized DC superheroes. Here’s the story, on i09.
- Atlanta’s High Museum has figured out how to diversify their audience, with an increase of 45% in their nonwhite visitors, which shouldn’t be a noteworthy feat but in today’s world still is – Hyperallergic has the story.
We still have a space open in the Winter Semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers! 8 weeks – 500 bux – coaching for as long as you need. The course is hard, but Frank will push your comics making practice to a new level, getting you to think about timing and color in new ways. His experience and ideas have influenced the likes of Connor Willumsen, Michael DeForge, and Simon Hanselmann (quote “I consider Frank Santoro to be my L. Ron Hubbard”) among many others. Dig into something new in the new year!