Who is Jackie Ormes and why is it published on Google Doodle?
By: Margaret Wilson
Illustrated by Philadelphia guest artist Liz Montague, today's Doodle slideshow focuses on American cartoonist and activist Jackie Orms. Orms was known for her satirical and stylish cartoons and comics that challenged the derogatory portrayal of black female characters widely circulated in the media. She is widely regarded as the first and only black female newspaper cartoonist of her time in the United States. On this day in 1945, her groundbreaking one-off panel, Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger, debuted at the Pittsburgh Courier, introducing the world to the smart and fashionable Ginger and her precocious six-year-old sister Patty-Jo. Every slide of today's doodle provides a glimpse into the stages of Ormes's life, from her beginnings as a self-taught artist to a powerful cartoonist and humorist whose work continues to inspire.
Jackie Orms was born Zelda Mavin Jackson on August 1, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She learned to draw at an early age and has demonstrated her skills on the cartoon page in her school yearbook. After graduation, she entered the media industry as a proofreader and freelance reporter for the national black newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier.
In 1937, The Courier published Ormes's first comic strip, Stuck Brown from Dixie to Harlem, which at times reflected the more serious struggle of real people migrating from south to north to escape racism and find better opportunities. Ormes's pioneering career has continued in Candy and Patty-Jo and Ginger - her longest running job - and her latest comic, Stuck in a Heartbeat.
Throughout their work, Orms' heroines have faced real-life challenges such as romantic grief, environmental justice and gender inequality, reflecting the challenges Ormes faced in his own life and in the lives of those around him. All of her characters were independent women - confident, intelligent, attractive and brave, resisting adversity in order to reach their next adventure.
Ormes has fostered a positive portrayal of black women and girls, and has also expressed her talent for fashion design by creating several dolls associated with her characters. In 1949, she made history with one of the first high quality American black Patty Joe dolls, complete with an extensive wardrobe manufactured by Terri Lee Doll. Later, her 1950 debut in a new full-color comic featuring her character Torchi, was accompanied by an accompanying paper doll topper called Torchi Togs. This bonus feature fostered a positive portrayal of black women by advising them on fashion guidelines such as fabric, fit, and seasonal trends.
Ormes retired in 1956 as a male-dominated cartoon pioneer, but continued to advocate and lead society for the rest of her life. In recognition of her accomplishments, Orms was posthumously inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists' Hall of Fame in 2014 and Will Eisner's Comic Book Industry Hall of Fame in 2018.