Artist History - Jackie Ormes

Jackie Ormes
Jackie Ormes

This fantastic picture of Jackie at her workstation found here Jackie Ormes was born Zelda Mavin Jackson in 1911 and became a well known cartoonist for the African American newspapers Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier.

Her comic strips focused on the black elite, defying stereotypes while presenting a leftist political message. She created multiple characters, including Torchy Brown, a Mississippi teen who worked in the Cotton Club and Candy, a witty maid who worked for the never seen Goldrocks. Each character focused on class and elegance, even in the face of racism.

Mrs. Ormes is best known for Patty-Jo n Ginger, a one panel comic that featured the precocious child Patty-Jo and her big sister/guardian Ginger. While the latter never talked, she was the epitome of glamour. Patty-Jo, meanwhile, would add quips, sometimes political in nature, to the scene. One famous post even had the young child comment on the Emmett Till's 1955 murder. (Side note: Due to her political voice during the Red Scare, the F.B.I. compiled a 287 page file on her.)

In 1956, Mrs. Ormes stopped drawing, and she passed away in 1985. Although no one is certain why she walked away from her art, it is undeniable that her work was essential for African Americans and women alike. She portrayed black women as smart, mobile, and elegant on a daily basis in an era where depictions of mammies and pick-a-ninnies were unfortunately the norm.

You'll find more information about Jackie Ormes after the jump.

Origin Story: A Book Review of Jackie Ormes - The First African American Woman Cartoonist: This New York Times article by Douglas Wolk gives an overview of Jackie Ormes life, and a book review of the compilation by Nancy Goldstein.

Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist: Want to find the actual book by Nancy Goldstein? Look no further. Here you can buy the book yourself or look through featured cartoon strips to get a sense and feel of Jackie's style.

Ohio State University: Found in the Collection: Jackie Ormes: Get a look at some of Mrs. Ormes comic strips (and a video!) in this blog post from Ohio University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum Blog.

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