Cartooning in Black......and White and Color

Cartoons have held an prominent place in political and social/cultural life for centuries. Political cartoonists critique politicians, classes and stereotypes of people, often with incisive humor. They can also demonize individuals and groups and engage in fear-mongering. Other cartoonists entertain and engage more subtly exploring social, familial, work situations. Effective cartoonists can cut to the bone and have angered people when accepted views of the world are challenged.

The importance of political cartoons was understood by such leading historical personages as Robert Sengstacke Abbott (publisher of the Chicago Defender); and Henry Proctor Slaughter, known for his vast collection of rare African American documents, including political cartoons. In the 1960s, Emory Douglas was well known for his political cartoons in the Black Panther Newspaper.

There was a noticeable absence in mainstream media of Black cartoonists and cartoons reflecting any variety of African American political and cultural points of view. Below is a list of the first 12 syndicated African American cartoonists. These include:

Aaron McGruder's Boondocks
Robb Armstrong - Jump Start - United Media
Ray Billingsley - Curtis- King Features Syndicate
Stephen Bentley - Herb and Jamaal- Tribune Media Services
Charles Boyce- Compu-toon - Tribune Media Services
Barbara Brandon - Where I'm Coming From (a weekly) - Universal Syndicate
Jerry Craft - Mama's Boyz (weekly) - King Features Syndicate
Charlos Gary- Working it Out
Keith Knight- (th)ink, K Chronicles
Aaron McGruder - Universal Press Syndicate (Fall 1998)
Bill Murray - Appearing in over 450 publications around the world
Morrie Turner (The first black cartoonist in national syndication) - Wee Pals - Creators Syndicate
Kerry G. Johnson - Cartoonist creator of Harambee Hills.
A Jackie Ormes cartoon
The first African American woman cartoonist was Jackie Ormes, who also worked for the Chicago Defender, and more information can be found out about her at this link. The text in the cartoon at left reads: “Gosh—Thanks if you’re beggin’ for me—But how’s about getting our rich Uncle Sam to put good public schools all over so we can be trained fit for any college?” The more things change, the more they stay the same!

This link will take you to a collection of Black-themed or populated animations.
There is also a vibrant cartoonist community all over Africa. There are two websites of interest: one, where they are grouped by country or genre of cartoons; the second is specific to South Africa. A wide range of opinions can be found about all local, regional, and international news. 


  1. from reader Greg:

    Dear Hazel,
    Many thanks for this most interesting post. I tried to leave a comment but am
    not sure I succeeded:

    On early African American cartoonists, we should perhaps add an asterix for
    Gerge Herriman, the creator of the influential comic strip KRAZY KAT, who was
    born African American but who lived as white


    1. And from reader Woody:

      Great.I actually remember some of these early circa 1950s comic strips. I have gone to a few of the ComicCon conventions in Seattle and have met a few local African American cartoonists and graphic novelists. None of this stuff is mainstream but we still should know about it.

      woody hodge

  2. Hi,thanks a lot for your article.Jackie Ormes was an African American in a field predominately white.With two strikes against her, what does Ms. Ormes do however hit a home run.She was a timely and politically correct artist who kept herself and her work contemporary and important with her African American group at a time when they were disregarded in the standard white papers.Jackie's work was artistically well done with dialog and a story line to keep her readership prepared to peruse the following issue.~Kate Weaver.


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