Sunday, October 4, 2015

Editorial Cartoons in Negro Digest/Black World

The other day on Facebook, William J. Harris was referencing editorial cartoons in The New Yorker. Given my recent research and blogging project, he asked me about the cartoons in Negro Digest/Black World. I've noticed those editorial cartoons for years, but somehow had not thought about them in a systematic way.

Recently, I began working my way through each of the cartoons published between 1961 and 1976. The editorial cartoons in Negro Digest (and later Black World) were known as "Humor in Hue." During the publication's 15-year run, they ran the work of more than cartoonists who signed their works Ott, Olbey, Ham, Meighan, Walt Carr, Boyce, Ben Yomen, Chuck, Malone, Pollard, Winners, Herb Roberts, Dave Farmer, Jules Feiffer, Charles Johnson, H. Nicholas, and Morrie. The works by Morrie (Morris "Morrie" Turner) appeared most frequently in the publication.  

In a special feature on editorial cartoonists, the editors of Black World noted that Morrie "perhaps provides more chuckles to more people than any other Black cartoonist alive. For several years, Negro Digest/Black World's regular feature 'Humor in Hue' was synonymous with Morrie's brand of mirth."

In later entries, I'll try to analyze particulars of Morrie's work as well as the works of other cartoonists who published in Negro Digest/Black World. For now, it's worth noting that collectively what distinguished these editorial cartoons from those in, say, The New Yorker, were the active engagements with inter- and intraracial issues. Morrie, Carr, Winners, and various other cartoonists in Negro Digest/Black World regularly made fun of black people as well as interactions between black and white people.

In the above cartoon from the January 1972 issue of Black World, for instance, Morrie makes fun of the notion that some white people would misread he "party" in Black Panther Party. Morrie and other cartoonists were constantly highlighting the humor in potential racial misunderstandings. 

Blogging about Black World magazine