Jackie Ormes: The first professional African American woman cartoonist
Jackie Ormes (August 1, 1911 – December 26, 1985) was born Zelda Jackson in a small town outside Pittsburgh. She was a self-taught artist who had several successful comic strips and cartoon characters, and they were precedent-setting. The characters were fashionable and professional. Often the focus of a strip was on humor, but Ormes was happy to use her comics as a platform for commentary on society’s ills as well. Her targets were frequently racial issues, but in 1953-54, her comic strip character, Torchy, took on environmental pollution, particularly as it was occurring in black neighborhoods. This was long before strips like Pogo had become the “issue” strip we think of today.