Black Ink Lost and Forgotten African-American Cartoonists of the Negro Pulps
Anyone out there need a doctoral project? I can't do it, my plate is full, but I do have a knack for ideas and a small pile of fairly scarce magazines aimed at the African-American market from the 1950s and 1960s.
Even the magazines are fairly hard to come by...search "Bronze Thrills" for one. A major publication which ran decades, yet it seems our major institutions and collectors have dropped the ball. Same with Copper Romance, Tan, Jive and more. Even the larger circulation magazines such as Hue and New Review are hard to come by. Ebony and Jet, both out of Chicago's Johnson Publications are far better documented, and in fact the organization recently graciously made the entire text of Jet available online (and what a resource it is.)
I started rounding up a few African-American magazines for a series I am putting together on the Vintage Sleaze site: "Afro-Antics the Black Pinup" another unfortunate neglected victim of institutional racism. Until the "Black is Beautiful" movement of the late 1960s women of color were few and far between the pulp covers, and you might enjoy the discoveries I am making for the essays.
However, as I look for dark models I could not help but to notice some wonderful, and in terms of humor and quality, "equal" cartoonists we do not know. Since cartoonists love to create indecipherable signatures and the mastheads never credited them, these Black inkers are lost in time.
There ARE some known Black cartoonists of the era. The remarkable book on Jackie Ormes by Nancy Goldstein of two years ago is wonderful. There have been exhibitions on fairly well known black cartoonists such as Ollie Harrington, E. Simms Campbell, Wilbert Holloway and Leslie Rogers. There was even an issue of "All-Negro Comics" in 1947, but there was only one issue. Ishmael Reed blamed the demise on distributors who refused to carry it. At least the comic is easily found on the web today.
But certainly someone should know of Butch Austin AKA Mr. Jive who drew strips for Hep and Jive Magazine, and the others here who I can not even identify, not being an expert. Here are but a few examples from my quite modest little pile of magazines. One day I hope someone will put together the tale better than I ever could.
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