Syracuse JumpStarted Robb Armstrong’s Career

Philadelphia native and cartoonist Robb Armstrong has been making waves and history his entire career. He created his comic strip “Jump Start” in 1989, currently the most widely syndicated daily comic strip from an African American cartoonist in the world.

The Philadelphia Sun profiles favorite son Robb Armstrong.

After attending Shipley, he went on to study at Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, he began writing for the school paper. During his time at the paper, Armstrong found his voice, and the concept for the foundation of “Jump Start” was born.

“There was a school newspaper called The Daily Orange,” he said. “I immediately found solace working at The Daily Orange. I did a comic strip called “Hector” from 1981-1985 until I graduated. The reason I call it solace is because that year 1981, when I entered Syracuse, my mother succumbed to cancer. She hid it from me for some time, but once she told me the news, she spiraled fast. I immediately sought out this opportunity. I had this comic strip — my solace — and “Hector” was fire. Kids loved it… it was funny and edgy. “Hector” was just this Black kid at Syracuse causing trouble, kicking up dust, complaining about stuff, not doing work, acting a fool, girls, and all that. 

A couple months ago Syracuse University awarded their highest alumni honor to Robb.

Back to The Philadelphia Sun:

Armstrong continued to work on “Hector” developing the characters. “Hector” would eventually become “Jump Start.” That transformation from Hector to “Jump Start,” however, was not a seamless one, and came with a great deal of rejection. 

“Some artists are temperamental,” Armstrong said. “When you say you don’t like their stuff or I don’t get this, it hurts their feelings. Your work doesn’t have any feelings. Your work can be improved. To get syndicated, in my case it required almost five straight years of rejection. If I would’ve remained sensitive, temperamental, or emotionally connected to my work, there’s just no possible scenario where years of rejection would’ve resulted in anything good.”

Something really good, JumpStart, did develop.

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