Jackie Ormes: First African-American Woman Cartoonist

Jackie Ormes

 

The home of all things random, I recently came across this blurb on tumblr regarding Jackie Ormes, the first African-American woman cartoonist:

“Her work for the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender—both incredibly influential African-American newspapers—was utterly groundbreaking and remains unique, even in the context of modern comics. Her first work, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem, featured the adventures of the titular Torchy, a stylish, intelligent young African-American woman who (feigning illiteracy) boards a whites-only train car to New York City and changes her life. Torchy’s story is a great, irreverent window into the migration of Southern-born African-Americans to the North, a movement that defined 20th-century America—but it is also the story of a girl on her own, living her own life and making her own choices. Torchy was an incredible aspirational figure, the likes of which barley exists in modern comics: an independent, optimistic, fashionable and adventurous black woman. Ormes would later revive Torchy’s story in Torchy in Heartbeats, a strip that introduced international adventure into the heroine’s life. In Heartbeats, Torchy traveled to South America, dated idealistic doctors, battled environmental exploitation and confronted racism at every turn. She was, frankly, awesome.”

Jackie Ormes 2

 

You can read the full post at thighhighs tumblr.  How exciting is it that in the 40’s and 50’s a black woman was using her talents and an available platform to communicate such vision! What a shame Jackie Ormes isn’t more widely known. If you’d like to learn more about and/or help support black female cartoonists, check out The Ormes Society.

Photos courtesy of thighhighs tumblr.