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Torchy Brown

Cheryl Lynn just pointed this out to me:

Lambiek say:

Jackie Ormes… became the first nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist in 1937.

Toonopedia says:

She remained the only one until the 1990s. Ormes also created a panel titled Patty Jo & Ginger, about a little girl and her adult sister. In 1948, Patty Jo became the first black character successfully marketed as a doll.

Torchy started out as a teenager living with her family, but quickly developed into a strong and independent woman. She frequently stood up to injustice, and racism was only one of the forms she opposed. She was all the things black women in mainstream media of the time were not — resolute, intelligent, resourceful, courageous … and sensual, a word critics and commentators have repeatedly used to describe her. Ormes drew her with a bolder pen line than was generally used by Dale Messick on Brenda Starr or Tarpé Mills on Miss Fury, to cite a couple of other female cartoonists with female heroes; and this helped convey the inner power of the character herself.

And Cheryl says:

How f-ing righteous is this character? Why is she not in a book right now? Why are there no collected trades of these strips for me to buy? Why can’t I even find a good official website dedicated to her? Bah! I’m sad now.

I’m also bummed that Jackie Ormes died in 1986 because I totally wanted her to be my comic book fairy-godmother. And now I can never tell her how awesome she is.

At least there’s still an Internet Jesus to complain about it to.

Published in comics talk


  1. Citybeatnik Citybeatnik

    If you’re the Internet Jesus, are you the person I need to talk to about raining hellfire and brimstone on the people with the pirated Calvin and Hobbes decals?

  2. fogbat fogbat

    Is there an Internet Easter, too?

  3. I wonder if Fantagraphics might be interested in publishing a collection of Ormes’ work.

  4. Rev Strange Rev Strange

    How cool … thanks for unearthing.
    Yes, there should be a collection published by some company or person soon!

    Rev Strange

  5. Thanks for this, Warren. I’d never even heard of her until this. Damn shame, too, it looks like.

  6. Hmm. My school library has the microform edition of the paper that this strip was printed in. I am going to go look for it.

  7. King Coody King Coody

    Damn this is like uncovering a lost city. Anyway to get some more information about the cartist and her creation?

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