Today in 1911, the birthday of Jackie Ormes, the first Black woman to draw syndicated newspaper comic strips.

She was born Zelda Jackson in Pittsburgh.

Her parents ran a printing company and a movie theater, so she was around the entertainment world from early on.

She got her first newspaper job in high school, proofreading articles and later writing her own.

But her chief interest was drawing.

And, in 1937, Jackie Ormes got her first recurring comic strip into the Pittsburgh Courier.

It was called “Torchy Brown from Dixie to Harlem.”

As you might guess from the name, the comic was about a young singer of torch songs who had moved from the rural south to New York City.

What sticks out about Ormes’ work is not only did she create well-rounded characters, she created characters that directly challenged the stereotypes about Black people.

One of her later comics was called Candy, and it was about a Black maid who was clever, resourceful and funny, a depiction that was far from the way Black maids were portrayed in a lot of other media.

Ormes’ comics were distributed in Black newspapers throughout the United States.

She also continued news reporting during World War II and wrote social columns in the papers.

Ormes was a trailblazer in another way.

She was a doll collector, but she was disappointed to find that Black children were playing with white dolls like they were learning how to be domestic staff.

Worse, the dolls with Black skin were almost always stereotypes.

In 1947, Ormes worked with a Nebraska company to create a doll based on Patty-Jo, one of her comic characters.

While Ormes retired from the comics page in 1956, she stayed active in the civil rights movement for the rest of her life.

Still, it took time for the comics world to recognize how much of an influence Ormes had.

In 2018, she was inducted posthumously in the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame, and there was an exhibit of Ormes’ comics at the Library of Congress.

Today in 1935, the release of a Three Stooges short called “Pardon My Scotch.”

It’s infamous among Stooge fans because in one scene, Moe crashes through a table and breaks three ribs.

But pro that he was, he still got up and slapped Larry and Curly before collapsing.

Found in the Collection: Jackie Ormes! (1911-1985) (Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)

Pardon My Scotch Trivia (IMDB)

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