How many of you/ us know of an African American cartoonist? I read a few comic strips when I was a young girl, particularly those in Ebony Jr. magazine. I enjoyed the comic strip Wee Pals and Kid Power (adapted for TV show) that was written by African American cartoonist Morrie Turner. Morrie broke the color barrier for black cartoonists in the 60s. He did so not just once, but twice. He was the first African American comic strip artist syndicated nationally in over 100 mainstream newspapers and had the first syndicated strip to portray a racially and culturally diverse mix of characters (African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, women, and the disabled). This was huge back in the mid to late 60s. Martin Luther King had just been assassinated when newspapers across the country realized the importance of assuaging the intense culturally and politically charged climate. Morrie's strips helped to do just that, bridge the cultural divide. Morrie Turner (1923 - 2014) represents history not long past...
Today, we have another great African American cartoonist who has made present-day strides in the comic strip world. Robb Armstrong born and raised in Philadelphia has a nationally and internationally syndicated cartoon strip - Jump Start. There are cultural and slightly political dimensions to Robb's Jump Start that are friendly to the many readers. Robb started his journey as a budding cartoonist when he was very young toddler. Although his scribbles may not have been of commercial value then, they sure did as he matured and fine-tuned his skills to become an award winning and well established icon in the community of Cartoonists. Robb would attribute his focus and tenacity to his loving and driven mother as well as highly supportive and very dear friends. Robb just completed his memoir which as he'd put it, "was a soulful and heart wrenching emotional experience". He delved deep into his life experiences that formed his artistic voice.
Robb came to Philadelphia last week on his book tour and me and several other friends were there to cheer him on and show the love that we have for him and his comic strip treasures. Go Robb we love you and Crystal!
Robb just released his memoir - Fearless - which is in bookstores everywhere including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.