What American Histories Omit told Chicago Defender readers about the contributions of black men and women in the history of our country. The strip was intended to give readers a sense of belonging and pride in the accomplishments of their race in building this country, a subject completely absent from the school curriculum in those days. The look of the feature was intentionally patterned closely after the mainstream newspaper hit Highlights of History.
Writer Nathan Hopkins and cartoonist Leslie M. Rogers produced the weekly feature from March 10 1928 to April 13 1929 for the Defender.
For the rest of the week we’ll be looking at some features from black papers. They are all related by being about Afro-American history, and further related by all the samples having come from a scrapbook put together by some young newspaper clipper in the 1940s. Big tip of the hat to Cole Johnson who put me wise to this scrapbook being advertised on eBay.
Our first feature is Did You Know, a panel by that great girlie cartoonist E. Simms Campbell. The circumstances of its debut are interesting. It was one of three features (four if you count a revival of an earlier one that was brought back) that he started in the same April 6 1940 issue of the Amsterdam (NY) News. Campbell essentially seems to have taken on the challenge of producing the bulk of their comics page, with an adventure strip, a humor strip, and an Ollie Harrington-style panel cartoon rounding out the offering. What’s even odder is that April 1940 just happens to be the very same month that Campbell’s daily Cuties panel began with King Features.
Was Campbell trying to see just how much he could produce? Was he sloughing off a bunch of unsold tryouts to the News? Was the News getting rid of a bunch of old Campbell work they had on file? I dunno, but all four features ended abruptly after eight episodes on May 25 1940.
Hi folks. Sorry for the long silence. Been going through some personal issues that left me not all that enthusiastic about talking comics strips for awhile, combined with devoting a lot of time to my software business, and (hopefully) near to final touches on my forthcoming book.
Regarding the book, I’ve been asked a lot about the publication date, originally cited on Amazon as November of last year, and apparently pre-ordered by quite a few of you (for which, MUCH thanks!). Yes, the book is still most emphatically a ‘go’. The challenge of converting my huge, and somewhat complex, database of comic strip information into printed form has been a greater task than my editor or I expected. However, the vast bulk of those problems have been ironed out and things are looking pretty darn good. The front matter of the book has all been put to bed, and the cross-indexes don’t seem to present much of a challenge. Right now we’re trying to figure out what we’ll do for the book cover, so we’re definitely in the home stretch.
Although I don’t have a revised publication date from the publisher at this time, I’m going to go out on a limb and take a guess that a late summer or fall release is likely.