Monday, December 3, 2012

African American Cartoonists 2

[1] March 16, 1946
At the end of the First World War Negro servicemen returned home confident that their patriotism would be rewarded with equality, a dream which was rudely shattered by reality. The Second World War led to similar hopes, but this time returning soldiers demands would lead directly to the Civil Rights movement of the fifties and sixties. Most Negro cartoonists whose work appeared in the African American press had been soldiers who served their country with honor, men who returned home expecting change only to find the same closed doors that prevailed before the war. Editorial cartoonists such as Elmer Simms Campbell and Robert S. Pious began drawing protest against the status quo directly into their editorial cartoons, pointedly attacking Jim Crow, lynching, and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan.

[2] March 22, 1947
E. Simms Campbell was the first black cartoonist to hit “the big-time” by breaking the color line in commercial art. He drew a comic called ‘Elmer Stoner’ for the pulps, a syndicated one-panel called ‘Cuties,’ and became one of the most popular “good girl” artists of the forties in the pages of Esquire magazine. Another black cartoonist, Matt Baker, was concurrently breaking the color line – in comic books. Cartoonist Teddy Shearer, who drew the comic strips ‘The Hills’ and ‘Quincy’, recalled in 1953 that

“…about fifteen years ago, I met the man who was to become one of the trail blazers in this business of ours, Elmer (E. Simms) Campbell. I was seventeen then, with a little talent and a great many dreams, and E. Simms, with his generous good humor, encouraged the talent and fired the dreams.

Those were the early days of his association with Esquire magazine; an association which was viewed with awesome pride by most of the Negro public.”

[3] January 1, 1949
In 1939, about the time Shearer first met him Campbell was living in a palatial house in Worthington, New York and his yearly income was estimated at $30,000. His wife shot herself in the library room in 1939, leaving the cartoonist to raise their first child, a toddler, alone. In a crass move the Baltimore African American pictured the event in a 4 panel cartoon on June 17, 1939.

[4] March 2, 1946
Robert S. Pious followed his artistic dreams from Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri, from there to Chicago and on to Harlem, where he became a noted portrait painter. In Chicago Pious drew illustrations for Bronzeman’s National Magazine and supplied commercial art for Murray’s Superior Hair Product Co. He recalled taking up the pencil at seven years of age in St. Louis.

“My mother threatened many times to deprive me of room and board. At night I used oil lamps to draw in order not to attract her attention and my teachers were forever communicating with mother, due to the lack of interest I showed in my assigned subjects.”
[5] September 21, 1946
In 1948 Pious drew an educational comic strip called ‘Facts on the Heroes in World War Two,’ narrated by St. Clair T. Bourne, for the African American press. He also did illustrations for MacFadden publications.

[6] August 3, 1946
[7] October 12, 1946
[8] April 6, 1946
[9] August 17, 1946
[10] August 12, 1946
[11] January 26, 1946
[12] November 16, 1946
[13] March 14, 1946
[14] February 9 1946
[15] March 25, 1947
[16] May 8, 1945
[17] Robert S. Pious 1953 Lucky Strike advertisement

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