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Jackie Ormes, America's first black woman cartoonist

Comics For Black History Month: Black Writer/Artists

Last year, the Richland Library blog featured black comic book characters in fiction, nonfiction, and superhero stories. This year, we would like to share black creators of comics, including writers and artists. These posts aim to celebrate several of the many black contributions to the comics medium. For instance, Henry Jackson Lewis, George Herriman, and Jackie Ormes are among the earliest black cartoonists in America. Lewis was born a slave around 1837, lost use of his left arm and eye in a fire as a child, and taught himself how to read, write, and draw, becoming a political cartoonist nearly fifty years later in 1889. George Herriman, born to mixed-race parents, began publishing cartoons in 1897, often inserting commentary on race into his comics while presenting as white. Jackie Ormes became America’s first black woman cartoonist in 1937.

Of the multitalented names below, many of them are not traditionally published or available through conventional retailers. Comics are bigger than sales racks and bookshelves, and many of these creators are paving their own paths to audiences and success using the internet, self-publishing, and self-marketing. The independent spirit represented by these creators makes this the most entrepreneurial comics post on the Richland Library blog. Almost all of the titles linked below lead to their individual websites, though some are also available in the library’s catalog and Hoopla for digital reading.

Many more creators can be found using the Cartoonists of Color database.

Writer/Artists

Marguerite Abouet - Aya

Kyle Baker - The Bakers: Do These Toys Belong Somewhere?, Nat Turner, Why I Hate Saturn

Darrin Bell - Candorville (webcomic)

Stephen Bentley - Herb and Jamaal

Ray Billingsley - Curtis

Khalid Birdsong - Fried Chicken & Sushi

Isaiah Broussard - Crackers & White Wine, Transyltown (webcomic)

Carol Burrell - SPQR Blues (webcomic)

Jamal Campbell - The Immortal Nadia Greene (webcomic)

Chuck Collins - Bounce (webcomic)

Monique Connett - Glass Hearts (webcomic)

Jennifer Yvette Crute - Crute Comics (various webcomics)

Tim Fielder - Matty’s Rocket (webcomic)

George Gant - On The Grind, The Reset Button (webcomics)

Burrell Gill, Jr. - Demon Hunter Kain (webcomic)

Joel Christian Gill - Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives From Black History

Leland Goodman - Basement Dwellers (webcomic)

Shauna Grant - Princess Love Pon (webcomic)

H.D. Harris - Amara (webcomic)

Myisha Haynes - The Substitutes (webcomic)

George Herriman - Krazy Kat

Gisele Jobateh - Star Trip (webcomic)

Stephen Patrick Kelly - Shane Longshadow Is Hungry (webcomic)

Keith Knight - (th)ink

Eric M. Lide - Ozzie The Vampire (webcomic)

Mildred Louis - Agents of the Realm (webcomic)

Nilah Magruder - M.F.K. (webcomic)

Aaron McGruder - The Boondocks

Lonnie Millsap - bacon (webcomic)

Jamar Nicholas - Detective Boogaloo: Hip Hop Cop (webcomic)

Jackie Ormes - Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, Torchy Brown

Ben Passmore - The Gospel of Tug Benson (webcomic)

Herve St. Louis - Johnny Bullet (webcomic)

Olivia Stephens - Alone, Here Lies, Nuclear (webcomics)

Cory Thomas - Watch Your Head (webcomic)

Morrie Turner - Wee Pals

Ngozi Ukazu - Check Please! (webcomic)

Ronald Wimberly - Black History In Its Own Words, Prince of Cats


Aya by Marguerite Abouet
Amazon Says: "That's what I wanted to show in Aya: an Africa without the . . . war and famine, an Africa that endures despite everything because, as we say back home, life goes on." --Mar more...
Amazon Says: "That's what I wanted to show in Aya: an Africa without the . . . war and famine, an Africa that endures despite everything because, as we say back home, life goes on." --Marguerite Abouet Ivory Coast, 1978. Family and friends gather at Aya's house every evening to watch the country's first television ad campaign promoting the fortifying effects of Solibra, "the strong man's beer." It's a golden time, and the nation, too--an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa--seems fueled by something wondrous. Who's to know that the Ivorian miracle is nearing its end? In the sun-warmed streets of working-class Yopougon, aka Yop City, holidays are around the corner, the open-air bars and discos are starting to fill up, and trouble of a different kind is about to raise eyebrows. At night, an empty table in the market square under the stars is all the privacy young lovers can hope for, and what happens there is soon everybody's business. Aya tells the story of its nineteen-year-old heroine, the studious and clear-sighted Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It's a breezy and wryly funny account of the desire for joy and freedom, and of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City. An unpretentious and gently humorous story of an Africa we rarely see-spirited, hopeful, and resilient--Aya won the 2006 award for Best First Album at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Clément Oubrerie's warm colors and energetic, playful lines connect expressively with Marguerite Abouet's vibrant writing. less...
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Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Amazon Says: “[Aya] wittily delves into both the political and the pop during an enchanted era when anything seemed possible.” —Vibe Vixen The original Drawn & Quarterly volume of Ay more...
Amazon Says: “[Aya] wittily delves into both the political and the pop during an enchanted era when anything seemed possible.” —Vibe Vixen The original Drawn & Quarterly volume of Aya debuted last year to much critical acclaim, receiving a Quill Award nomination and praise for its accessibility and for the rare portrait of a warm, vibrant Africa it presents. This continuation of the dynamic story by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie returns to Africa’s Ivory Coast in the late 1970s, where life in Yop City is as dramatic as ever. Oubrerie’s artwork synchronizes perfectly with Abouet’s funny and lighthearted writing, which together create a spirited atmosphere and scenarios that, however unique to the bygone setting, remain entirely contemporary in their effect.  The original cast of characters is back in full force, with a case of questionable paternity fanning the flames of activity in the community. The new mother Adjoua has her friends to help with the baby, perhaps employing Aya a bit too frequently, while a new romance leaves Bintou with little time for her friends, let alone their responsibilities. The young women aren’t the only residents of Yopougon involved in the excitement, however; Aya’s father is caught in the midst of his own trysts and his employer’s declining Solibra beer sales, and Adjoua’s brother finds his share of the city’s nightlife. less...
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Amazon Says: Aya has captured the hearts of North American readers of all ages for the rare portrait it paints of a vibrant, happy, bourgeois Ivory Coast in the 1970s, based upon Marguerit more...
Amazon Says: Aya has captured the hearts of North American readers of all ages for the rare portrait it paints of a vibrant, happy, bourgeois Ivory Coast in the 1970s, based upon Marguerite Abouet's youth in Yop City. Not only is Aya complemented with Clément Oubrerie's gorgeous artwork, but the volumes also offer a slice-of-life peek into African culture: complete with recipes, glossaries, and wardrobe instructions for turning one's pagne (brightly colored fabric) into a skirt, head wrap, or baby carrier. Engaging and fun, the universal stories in Aya provide a much-needed context for today's heartbreaking news stories.Aya is the winner of the Best First Album award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the Children's Africana Book Award, and the Glyph Award; was nominated for the Quill Award, the YALSA's Great Graphic Novels list, and the Eisner Award; and was included on "best of" lists in The Washington Post, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. less...
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Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Amazon Says: THE DRAMATIC CONCLUSION TO THE AYA SERIES Aya: Love in Yop City comprises the final three chapters of the Aya story, episodes never before seen in English. Aya is a li more...
Amazon Says: THE DRAMATIC CONCLUSION TO THE AYA SERIES Aya: Love in Yop City comprises the final three chapters of the Aya story, episodes never before seen in English. Aya is a lighthearted story about life in the Ivory Coast during the 1970s, a particularly thriving and wealthy time in the country's history.While the stories found in Aya: Love in Yop City maintain their familiar tone, quick pace, and joyfulness, we see Aya and her friends beginning to make serious decisions about their future. When a professor tries to take advantage of Aya, her plans to become a doctor are seriously shaken, and she vows to take revenge on the lecherous man. With a little help from the tight-knit community of Yopougon though, Aya comes through these trials stronger than ever.This second volume of the complete Aya includes unique appendices―recipes, guides to understanding Ivorian slang, street sketches, and concluding remarks from Marguerite Abouet explaining history and social milieu. Inspired by Abouet's childhood, the series has received praise for offering relief from the disaster-struck focus of most stories set in Africa. Aya is the winner of the Best First Album Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival; was nominated for the YALSA's Great Graphic Novels list; and was included on "best of" lists from The Washington Post, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. less...
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Amazon Says: Comics most adorable family now in their first darling color hardcover. Even though they re drawings, you just wanna pinch their cheeks. This breathtakingly cherubic edition c more...
Amazon Says: Comics most adorable family now in their first darling color hardcover. Even though they re drawings, you just wanna pinch their cheeks. This breathtakingly cherubic edition collects the best episodes from Cartoonist Volumes 1-2, and The Bakers, plus 30 pages of brand new cartoons. All printed for the first time in beautiful full color! less...
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Nat Turner by Kyle Baker
Amazon Says: The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a he more...
Amazon Says: The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered. In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds. This graphic novel collects all four issues of Kyle Baker’s critically acclaimed miniseries together for the first time in hardcover and paperback. The book also includes a new afterword by Baker. “A hauntingly beautiful historical spotlight. A-” —Entertainment Weekly “Baker’s storytelling is magnificent.” —Variety “Intricately expressive faces and trenchant dramatic pacing evoke the diabolic slave trade’s real horrors.” —The Washington Post “Baker’s drawings are worthy of a critic’s attention.”—Los Angeles Times “Baker’s suspenseful and violent work documents the slave trade’s atrocities as no textbook can, with an emotional power approaching that of Maus.”—Library Journal, starred review less...
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Amazon Says: PART 1 OF 3 Cranky columnist Anne Merkel is only happy when she's complaining...about her editors, about being single in New York City, about running out of Scotch. But when h more...
Amazon Says: PART 1 OF 3 Cranky columnist Anne Merkel is only happy when she's complaining...about her editors, about being single in New York City, about running out of Scotch. But when her long-lost sister shows up claiming to be Queen of the Leather Astro-Girls of Saturn, Anne's going to wish she'd never complained about anything... WINNER OF THE HARVEY AWARD Best Graphic Album of Original Work less...
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Amazon Says: PART 2 OF 3 Cranky columnist Anne Merkel is only happy when she's complaining...about her editors, about being single in New York City, about running out of Scotch. But when h more...
Amazon Says: PART 2 OF 3 Cranky columnist Anne Merkel is only happy when she's complaining...about her editors, about being single in New York City, about running out of Scotch. But when her long-lost sister shows up claiming to be Queen of the Leather Astro-Girls of Saturn, Anne's going to wish she'd never complained about anything... WINNER OF THE HARVEY AWARD Best Graphic Album of Original Work less...
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Amazon Says: Strange Fruit Volume I is a collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the nine ill more...
Amazon Says: Strange Fruit Volume I is a collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the nine illustrated chapters chronicles an uncelebrated African American hero or event. From the adventures of lawman Bass Reeves, to Henry “Box” Brown’s daring escape from slavery. less...
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Amazon Says: While the Krazy Kat Sundays were created and published in black and white until 1935 (and therefore the majority of strips in this book are black and white), Herriman’s publ more...
Amazon Says: While the Krazy Kat Sundays were created and published in black and white until 1935 (and therefore the majority of strips in this book are black and white), Herriman’s publisher did briefly experiment with running the strip in color in 1924, and all 10 of these rare full-color strips are presented here. less...
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Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017WINNER OF THE EISNER AWARD FOR BEST COMICS-RELATED BOOKFINALIST FOR THE NBCC AWARD IN BIOGRAPHY FINALIST FOR THE PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WEL more...
Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017WINNER OF THE EISNER AWARD FOR BEST COMICS-RELATED BOOKFINALIST FOR THE NBCC AWARD IN BIOGRAPHY FINALIST FOR THE PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WELD AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHYIn the tradition of Schulz and Peanuts, an epic and revelatory biography of Krazy Kat creator George Herriman that explores the turbulent time and place from which he emerged—and the deep secret he explored through his art.The creator of the greatest comic strip in history finally gets his due—in an eye-opening biography that lays bare the truth about his art, his heritage, and his life on America’s color line. A native of nineteenth-century New Orleans, George Herriman came of age as an illustrator, journalist, and cartoonist in the boomtown of Los Angeles and the wild metropolis of New York. Appearing in the biggest newspapers of the early twentieth century—including those owned by William Randolph Hearst—Herriman’s Krazy Kat cartoons quickly propelled him to fame. Although fitfully popular with readers of the period, his work has been widely credited with elevating cartoons from daily amusements to anarchic art. Herriman used his work to explore the human condition, creating a modernist fantasia that was inspired by the landscapes he discovered in his travels—from chaotic urban life to the Beckett-like desert vistas of the Southwest. Yet underlying his own life—and often emerging from the contours of his very public art—was a very private secret: known as "the Greek" for his swarthy complexion and curly hair, Herriman was actually African American, born to a prominent Creole family that hid its racial identity in the dangerous days of Reconstruction. Drawing on exhaustive original research into Herriman’s family history, interviews with surviving friends and family, and deep analysis of the artist’s work and surviving written records, Michael Tisserand brings this little-understood figure to vivid life, paying homage to a visionary artist who helped shape modern culture. less...
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Amazon Says: Favorite cartoons from the Krazy Kat comic strips more...
Amazon Says: Favorite cartoons from the Krazy Kat comic strips less...
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Amazon Says: Here are the latest, greatest, and last of the daily and Sunday strips; banned comics that have never been seen before, with Aaron McGruder’s commentary on them; and intervi more...
Amazon Says: Here are the latest, greatest, and last of the daily and Sunday strips; banned comics that have never been seen before, with Aaron McGruder’s commentary on them; and interviews and profiles of the man behind the rage. All the Rage is a must for any true Boondocks fan. less...
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Amazon Says: Here’s the first big book of The Boondocks, more than four years and 800 strips of one of the most influential, controversial, and scathingly funny comics ever to run in a d more...
Amazon Says: Here’s the first big book of The Boondocks, more than four years and 800 strips of one of the most influential, controversial, and scathingly funny comics ever to run in a daily newspaper. “With bodacious wit, in just a few panels, each day Aaron serves up—and sends up—life in America through the eyes of two African-American kids who are full of attitude, intelligence, and rebellion. Each time I read the strip, I laugh—and I wonder how long The Boondocks can get away with the things it says. And how on earth can the most truthful thing in the newspaper be the comics?” —From the foreword by Michael Moore less...
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Amazon Says: In the United States at mid-century, in an era when there were few opportunities for women in general and even fewer for African American women, Jackie Ormes blazed a trail as more...
Amazon Says: In the United States at mid-century, in an era when there were few opportunities for women in general and even fewer for African American women, Jackie Ormes blazed a trail as a popular artist with the major black newspapers of the day.Jackie Ormes chronicles the life of this multiply talented, fascinating woman who became a successful commercial artist and cartoonist. Ormes's cartoon characters (including Torchy Brown, Candy, and Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger) delighted readers of newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender, and spawned other products, including fashionable paper dolls in the Sunday papers and a black doll with her own extensive and stylish wardrobe. Ormes was a member of Chicago's Black elite in the postwar era, and her social circle included the leading political figures and entertainers of the day. Her politics, which fell decidedly to the left and were apparent to even a casual reader of her cartoons and comic strips, eventually led to her investigation by the FBI.The book includes a generous selection of Ormes's cartoons and comic strips, which provide an invaluable glimpse into U.S. culture and history of the 1937-56 era as interpreted by Ormes. Her topics include racial segregation, cold war politics, educational equality, the atom bomb, and environmental pollution, among other pressing issues of the times."I am so delighted to see an entire book about the great Jackie Ormes! This is a book that will appeal to multiple audiences: comics scholars, feminists, African Americans, and doll collectors. . . ." ---Trina Robbins, author of A Century of Women Cartoonists and  The Great Women CartoonistsNancy Goldstein became fascinated in the story of Jackie Ormes while doing research on the Patty-Jo Doll. She has published a number of articles on the history of dolls in the United States and is an avid collector. less...
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Amazon Says: A look at Black History framed by those who made it. BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN ITS OWN WORDS presents quotes of dozens of black luminaries with portraits & illustrations by Rona more...
Amazon Says: A look at Black History framed by those who made it. BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN ITS OWN WORDS presents quotes of dozens of black luminaries with portraits & illustrations by Ronald Wimberly. Featuring the memorable words and depictions of Angela Davis, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Kanye West, Zadie Smith, Ice Cube, Dave Chappelle, James Baldwin, Spike Lee and more. less...
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Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly
Amazon Says: Prince of Cats is the B side to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, played at an eighties block party in a NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, di more...
Amazon Says: Prince of Cats is the B side to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, played at an eighties block party in a NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, disco and no wave. It's the story of the minor players with Tybalt at the center. Like Shakespeare's originals, Prince of Cats implements various formalist restraints. The definitive printing of Ronald Wimberly's critically acclaimed first work, presented as intended for the first time. less...
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Amazon Says: When many think of comic books the first thing that comes to mind are caped crusaders and spandex-wearing super-heroes. Perhaps, inevitably, these images are of white men (and more...
Amazon Says: When many think of comic books the first thing that comes to mind are caped crusaders and spandex-wearing super-heroes. Perhaps, inevitably, these images are of white men (and more rarely, women). It was not until the 1970s that African American superheroes such as Luke Cage, Blade, and others emerged. But as this exciting new collection reveals, these superhero comics are only one small component in a wealth of representations of black characters within comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels over the past century. The Blacker the Ink is the first book to explore not only the diverse range of black characters in comics, but also the multitude of ways that black artists, writers, and publishers have made a mark on the industry. Organized thematically into “panels” in tribute to sequential art published in the funny pages of newspapers, the fifteen original essays take us on a journey that reaches from the African American newspaper comics of the 1930s to the Francophone graphic novels of the 2000s. Even as it demonstrates the wide spectrum of images of African Americans in comics and sequential art, the collection also identifies common character types and themes running through everything from the strip The Boondocks to the graphic novel Nat Turner.  Though it does not shy away from examining the legacy of racial stereotypes in comics and racial biases in the industry, The Blacker the Ink also offers inspiring stories of trailblazing African American artists and writers. Whether you are a diehard comic book fan or a casual reader of the funny pages, these essays will give you a new appreciation for how black characters and creators have brought a vibrant splash of color to the world of comics.       less...
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