Black Cartoonists In These Times

Clockwise from top left: Jackie Ormes, Tom Floyd, Jay Jackson,
panels from Tom Floyd’s book “Integration is a Bitch!,”

“Southern Inconsistency” by Leslie Rogers, “Spotty” by Daniel Day.

Leslie Rogers created the Bungleton Green comic in 1920, which ran into the 1960s—and still holds the record as the longest-running Black comic strip in U.S. history.

Jackie Ormes —the first major Black woman comic artist in the United States—paired crisp lines, pointillism and Black characters donning stylish outfits with frank commentary on labor strikes, segregated schools and the Cold War.

Working with Black-owned publications, Black comic artists had the freedom to create uplifting depictions of Black life, including the many dimensions of Black features, gestures and vernacular.

Life as seen by Black cartoonists in a majority White society, past and present.

In summer 2020, the New York Times asked cartoonist Ronald Wimberly for a single-page journal cartoon. He writes in the afterword to It’s Life As I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940?–?1980, ?What resulted was a cartoon about how I felt witnessing the recent George Floyd uprisings. Ultimately, the New York Times decided not to run the cartoon on the grounds that it ?editorialized violence.’ ”

In These Times is proud to publish here, for the first time anywhere, Wimberly’s comic, ?Inside Man.”

© Ronald Wimberly

The pilot episode of Aaron McGruder’s animated sitcom The Boondocks begins with a dream sequence: Huey Freeman interrupts a fancy garden party to tell a crowd of well-to-do white people that ?Jesus was Black, Ronald Reagan was the devil and the government is lying about 9/11.” Within seconds, a riot ensues. Then, Huey’s grandpa slaps him awake, saying, ?Having that dream where you made the white people riot, weren’t you?… How many times have I told you, you better not even dream about telling white folks the truth. You better learn how to lie like me. I’m gonna find me a white man and lie to him right now.”

© Aaron McGruder

Sherell Barbee, for In These Times, has a fine essay.