Tuesday, January 02, 2024

"Bootsie's Big 50s" by Ollie Harrington


 Via Nat Gertler:

Arriving in comic shops in March: BOOTSIE'S BIG '50s, a collection of Ollie Harrington's "Dark Laughter" cartoons from the 1950s, printed large. Tell your favorite comic shop today that you want it -- for smaller stuff like this, preordering basically required, few shops will likely get it for the shelves.



Ollie Harrington (1912 - 1995) was an American cartoonist who attacked issues of racism in his cartoons. In 2022, he was the subject of a major exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum:

Throughout his career, Oliver “Ollie” Harrington (1912-1995) used his voice and artistic talents as a cartoonist to attack racial, economic and social injustice with razor-sharp wit and insight. Speaking from the perspective of a cartoonist of color, his commentary chronicles many of the events and issues that defined the 20th century, from segregation and apartheid, to war and poverty. Harrington’s life and career intersected with the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, the Black émigré community in Paris after WWII, and communist East Germany. Many of Harrington’s cartoons remain relevant and speak to problems that sadly are still unresolved in contemporary times. 

Starting in the 1930s, Harrington’s work was widely published in the Black Press including the New York Amsterdam News, the Pittsburgh Courier and the People’s Voice.  His long-running series Dark Laughter (later known as Bootsie), cast a satirical, yet affectionate, gaze on Black America through the adventures of an observant African-American “everyman.” 

Harrington was an unapologetic activist and critic of racism and capitalism, who emigrated to Paris in 1952 and, ultimately to Berlin in 1961, in response to concerns about FBI surveillance due to his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government. During World War II, he served as a war correspondent and later worked briefly as the NAACP public relations director. Later in his career, he also published trenchant editorial cartoons in the Daily World and the German satirical publication, Eulenspiegel.  


I teach History of Comics and History of Political Cartoons college courses, and we talk about Mr. Harrington's life and work. Here are a few of his cartoons. 


The 2022 exhibit was co-curated by Jenny E. Robb and Dr. Kay Clopton. Just a week ago I was told that no other museum or gallery was interested in having the show after is closed at the Billy Ireland. Very sad.

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