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Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist


Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist Cover

ISBN13: 9780472116249
ISBN10: 047211624x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the United States at mid-century, in an era when there were few opportunities for women in general and even fewer for African American women, Jackie Ormes blazed a trail as a popular artist with the major black newspapers of the day.

Jackie Ormes chronicles the life of this multiply talented, fascinating woman who became a successful commercial artist and cartoonist. Ormes's cartoon characters (including Torchy Brown, Candy, and Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger) delighted readers of newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender, and spawned other products, including fashionable paper dolls in the Sunday papers and a black doll with her own extensive and stylish wardrobe. Ormes was a member of Chicago's Black elite in the postwar era, and her social circle included the leading political figures and entertainers of the day. Her politics, which fell decidedly to the left and were apparent to even a casual reader of her cartoons and comic strips, eventually led to her investigation by the FBI.

The book includes a generous selection of Ormes's cartoons and comic strips, which provide an invaluable glimpse into U.S. culture and history of the 1937-56 era as interpreted by Ormes. Her topics include racial segregation, cold war politics, educational equality, the atom bomb, and environmental pollution, among other pressing issues of the times.

"I am so delighted to see an entire book about the great Jackie Ormes! This is a book that will appeal to multiple audiences: comics scholars, feminists, African Americans, and doll collectors. . . ."

---Trina Robbins, author of A Century of Women Cartoonists andand#160; The Great Women Cartoonists

Nancy Goldstein became fascinated in the story of Jackie Ormes while doing research on the Patty-Jo Doll. She has published a number of articles on the history of dolls in the United States and is an avid collector.

Book News Annotation:

Jackie Ormes (1911-1985) blazed a trail as a popular cartoonist with the major black daily newspapers of the day. Her characters spawned other products, including an elegant black doll with a stylish wardrobe and a series of paper dolls. Ormes was a member of Chicago's black elite, with a social circle that included leading political figures and entertainers. Her politics, which fell decidedly to the left and were apparent to even the casual reader of her cartoons, eventually led to her investigation by the FBI during the McCarthy era. This biography chronicles her life and provides a glimpse into American culture and history. Color and b&w illustrations and photos are included. Goldstein has published articles on the history of dolls. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


A richly illustrated biography of a pioneering woman artist and the characters she created

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crowyhead, August 27, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is a somewhat lackluster treatment of a fascinating and important woman.

First, the positives: Jackie Ormes, who worked as a cartoonist in the black press for nearly three decades, definitely is past due for a full book-length treatment. Because her work was mainly single-panel cartoons, and because she did not work in the mainstream press, Ormes has often been overlooked in discussions of the history of comics and cartooning. It's wonderful that this has been remedied. The book is a thing of beauty, as well; nice glossy pages, big margins, and a large enough format that the sometimes-muddy reproductions of Ormes' art (muddy because they have been reproduced from microfilm, not due to any fault of the author or the artist!) are intelligible and as clear as possible. There are eighty reproductions of Ormes' popular "Patty-Jo n' Ginger" single-panel comic, as well as representative samples of her serial comics "Dixie to Harlem" and "Torchy in Heartbeats."

Nancy Goldstein's writing, however, is pedestrian, and she frequently repeats the same information. The first section of the book, a biography of Ormes, is something of a slog because of this. Perhaps the biggest problem, from my perspective, is that Goldstein originally came to the topic of Ormes' life through interest in doll collecting and the Patty-Jo doll. Thus, Goldstein's analyses of Ormes' talents and role as an artist are pretty shallow, and frequently glossed over in favor of discussion of the fashions displayed in the comics and information about the Patty-Jo doll. The book tends to feel a bit like it's neither fish nor fowl; the biography is pretty sketchy, the art isn't deeply analyzed, and even the interesting historical and sociological aspects of the Patty-Jo doll are often glossed over.

In all, I would tend to think of this book as a good start. Ormes deserved the book-length treatment, and perhaps this volume will spark interest in her life and artwork, giving rise to better books in the future.
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Product Details

Goldstein, Nancy
University of Michigan Press
Women's Studies
United States - 20th Century
Women's Studies - General
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - General
United states
Artists, Architects, Photographers
cultural heritage
Cartoonists -- United States.
Ormes, Jackie
Biography-Artists Architects and Photographers
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
164 Illustrations including 18 pages of
11 x 8.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Art Business Guides
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Illustration
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Cartoons » General
Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
Biography » General
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » African American Studies » General

Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist New Hardcover
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Product details 240 pages University of Michigan Press - English 9780472116249 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A richly illustrated biography of a pioneering woman artist and the characters she created
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