The First African American Woman Cartoonist
University of Michigan Press
On Sale: February 21, 2008
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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
"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 Cartoonists
Nancy 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.
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