Uh, let's just say this is February 29 - If my life were a juggling act, I'd be dropping balls left and right. Wrapping up African American Cartoonists Month is just one of the many projects that I had up in the air when I became distracted by other things, so it fell off my schedule....PLOP! At least I had some legitimate and unexpected interruptions, rather than just my usual laziness and general procrastination. One of those surprises was the February 29th performance of the local middle school play, a loopy little farce called North Woods Nonsense. While in many respects this year's annual production was like the twenty-one that have preceded it (gaffs and laughs), it was remarkable for an unfortunate reason; it was the last one ever. Yep, after twenty-two years, director Cindy Hertrampf has called it quits, and the school has no plans (nor means) to replace her. My own involvement with Cindy's shows began with her second production, meaning that I have been a part of her "crew" for half of my life! Yowza! So, although I hadn't originally planned to attend the performance, I sorta had to...especially since I was part of the parting surprise Cindy had planned for the cast. As curtain calls ended, she announced to the kids that, in lieu of an after-party, all of us are going be treated to a University of Wisconsin at Platteville performance of the musical Anything Goes! When I was invited, Cindy didn't even know that I had directed Anything Goes back in my community theatre days. Of course, I'll technically be accompanying the entourage as a chaperone...ironic, since my favorite lyric in the show is -
We're all alone,
Has got our number.
The world's in slumber;
Anyhoo, for that reason and others (including a scary flat tire immediately following the show, and the resulting day-long fight to have it replaced under warranty) I didn't complete my plans for daily listing African American cartoonists. The last two "...Of The Day" artists are all-time greats, too. The African American Cartoonist of The Day for February 28, Jackie Ormes, was the first African American woman to have a syndicated cartoon strip (the amazingly groundbreaking Torchy Brown). Her influence as an inspirational figure has only increased since she passed away in 1985. In fact, her artistic "descendents" have formed a confederation in her name. Their WEB-SITE explains -
About The Ormes Society
The Ormes Society, named after the legendary pioneering cartoonist of color Jackie Ormes, is an organization dedicated to supporting black female comic creators and promoting the inclusion of black women in the comics industry as creators, characters and consumers.
The last African American Cartoonist of The Day (for February 29), George Herriman, is a somewhat controversial choice. During his lifetime, the light-skinned artist did nothing to dispel the impression that he was of Greek ancestry, in spite of his Creole heritage. Even so, he was arguably the greatest American cartoonist of all time, using his classic Krazy Kat strip to explore, exploit, and explode concepts of race and discrimination through surreal humor and clever slapstick. Look; Mr. Herriman lived and worked decades before the Civil Rights Era. What he did, no doubt, he did because he felt he had to. In fact, I don't think that he made a specific effort to disavow his heritage, necessarily, but I do think that people around him suppressed the truth for their own gain, and he didn't object publicly. Still, he was of African American descent, and to not mention him this month would be a crime worse than throwing a brick at a cat's head. So, that brings African American Cartoonists Month to a close...but, before I drop the subject, I have a special BONUS for any of you who consider yourselves comic book geeks! It's a funny animated examination of old-school superheroes of color, from Mama's Boyz comic strip creator, and EXTRA African American Cartoonist of The Day - Jerry Craft! Check it out by clicking HERE! See ya!