Monday, August 01, 2022

Today in Comics History, August 1: Happy birthday, Jackie Ormes!

Born on this day in 1911, Jackie Ormes, the first African-American woman cartoonist and creator of "Torchy Brown" in the Dixie to Harlem (1937-1940) and Heartbeats comic strips (1950-1954), and the Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger panel comics.

There's lots to learn about how groundbreaking Jackie Ormes was, so in this case I not only heartily suggest you check out her Wikipedia entry but also the extensive history and illustrations in Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist by Nancy Goldstein, recentl re-released in an affordable paperback. Indie bookstore link here (currently out of stock); here. (Amazon ad) Tell 'em your pal Bully sent ya!

I'm also gonna go out there and from the center of my little red satin stuffed heart thank Jackie Ormes for her contribution to toys for Black kids: as fashion paper dolls featuring Torchy in the newspaper strips:

...and in her creation of the actual "Patti-Jo" doll, the first doll based on a specific Black character:

In an interview, Jackie Ormes proclaimed "No more rag Susies or Sambos. Just kids!" From the website:
At long last, here was an African American doll with all the play features children desired: playable hair, and the finest and most extensive wardrobe on the market, with all manner of dresses, formals, shoes, hats, nightgowns, robes, skating and cowgirl costumes, and spring and winter coat sets, to name a few.

Here's some great gifs of Jackie at work and at play with the Patti-Jo doll!

We wish you a very happy birthday, Jackie, and may many more comics fans and historians — heck, many more just plain people! — continue to discover and appreciate your work!

from "Women in Historical Action Gallery" in Fashion in Action (2017 edition) (Bedside Press, 2017); pencils, inks, and colors by John K. Snyder III

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