Torchy in Heartbeats Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger
Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist chronicles the life of a multiply talented woman who became a successful cartoonist. Ormes’s cartoon characters--Torchy Brown, Candy, Patty-Jo, and Ginger--delighted readers of African American newspapers such as the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier between 1937-56. This biography provides an invaluable glimpse into the history and culture of that era. As a member of Chicago’s black elite, Ormes’s social circle included leading political figures and entertainers of the day. People who knew her say that she modeled some cartoon characters after herself as beautifully dressed and coiffed females, appearing and speaking out in ways that defied stereotyped images of blacks in the mainstream press. Ormes’s politics, which fell decidedly to the left and were apparent to even a casual reader of her cartoons and comics, eventually led to her investigation by the FBI during the McCarthy era. In the late 1940s, Ormes (1911-85) transformed cartoon character Patty-Jo into a doll that is now a collector’s item.

The book presents one hundred and thirty one of Jackie Ormes’s cartoons and comic strips, some in color, some from original art work, and most digitally photographed from actual newspaper with only a few reproduced and restored from microfilm. Her topics include fashion, modern life, and human foibles, as well as racial injustice, foreign and domestic policy, educational equality, the atom bomb, and environmental pollution, among other pressing issues of those times, and indeed, of ours today.