Torchy Brown


The reason Torchy isn’t remembered as well is, she didn’t appear in mainstream newspapers. Ormes was working for The Pittsburgh Courier, which serves that city’s black community, when, on May 1, 1937, she launched Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem as a weekly feature. The Courier distributed it to 14 other black papers around the country. This made Ormes, as far as history has determined, the first black woman in America to become a syndicated cartoonist. She remained the only one until the 1990s. Ormes also created a panel titled Patty Jo & Ginger, about a little girl and her adult sister. In 1948, Patty Jo became the first black character successfully marketed as a doll.

Torchy started out as a teenager living with her family, but quickly developed into a strong and independent woman. She frequently stood up to injustice, and racism was only one of the forms she opposed. She was all the things black women in mainstream media of the time were not — resolute, intelligent, resourceful, courageous … and sensual, a word critics and commentators have repeatedly used to describe her.

(via Digital Femme)