Jackie Ormes

For my last Black History Month post, here’s a midcentury cartoonist who’s been popping up all over the place lately.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmdHOkB1SHA&w=350&h=300]

Jackie Ormes (1911-1985) was a Chicago-based cartoonist whose work appeared in African-American newspapers from the 1930s to the 1950s.  Her black female characters were like her: stylish, intelligent, and politically conscious (apparently she was investigated by the FBI during McCarthyism which is a badge of honor in my book).

Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem” by Jackie Ormes, 1930s? From the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at OSU

In 2008, Nancy Goldstein wrote a biography of Ormes, which may account for the recent flurry of attention?  Having never heard of her, in the past week or so she’s popped up on three comics news sites I regularly visit, which is great!

The images here come from a blog post from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at Ohio State University, which is something I should look into as an aspiring librarian…  Appropriately, they also recently announced a Guide to Multicultural Resources highlighting work by African-American, Latino, and Asian-American cartoonists in their collection, so check that out.

Torchy in Heartbeats by Jackie Ormes, 1951.  From the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at OSU

Ormes is the namesake for the Ormes Society, a group dedicated to supporting black women in the comics business today, so Ormes also serves as a nice bridge between Black History Month and Women’s History Month in March!  Expect that Lady Creators tag to keep on growing…


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