Since I’m doing a Black Creators countdown this month, I didn’t have time to do spotlights on black-created comics like I normally like to do in February. Instead, though, I asked the nifty comic book writer Regine L. Sawyer to do some spotlights on fellow black women members of her Women In Comics NYC Collective. Enjoy! – BC
Pamela Thomas is the Co-Owner and Co-Curator of the Museum Of UnCut Funk (museumofuncutfunk.com), an avid collector of Black memorabilia and an expert on 1970’s Black culture.Over the past eighteen years, Pamela has pursued her passion for Black history by building an extensive collection of Black culture artifacts, which includes: Animation Art And Collectibles, Broadway Window Cards, Coins, Comic Books, Movie Posters, Stamps, and Sports items that reflect Black images. The collection has been covered by: BET, NY-1, WNBC- NY, WABC-NY, WABC-Chicago; in Essence, Inside New Jersey, Intelligent Collector, More, Savoy, Upscale, New York Times, USA Today; and online by Complex, Ebony, Fast Company Design, NPR, The Source, and Collector’s Quest. Images from the collection are currently being featured as a part of the Google Cultural Institute Art Project, which launched as a part of their #BlackHistoryMonth project on February 1, 2016.
The Museum of UnCut Funk Collection contains more than 300 Black comic books and 2,000 Black comic strips, including all of the first appearances of 1970’s Black Superheroes and Superheroines. The museum is commemorating the election of the first Black President in American history, Barack Obama, by archiving all of his comic book appearances.
The museum has also acquired rights to the 1950’s Black comic strips published by the Smith-Mann Syndicate in a first time ever color comic newspaper insert that ran in the Pittsburgh Courier. The Pittsburgh Courier was the only Black newspaper to carry the insert from 1950 through 1954. Four of these comic strips, Guy Fortune, Mark Hunt, Neil Knight and The Chisholm Kid, represent the first Black heroes to ever appear in a comic strip. Two other comic strips, ‘Torchy In Heartbeats’ and ‘Torchy Togs’, presented the first positive Black female character to ever appear in a syndicated comic strip. These strips were written and illustrated by legendary Black female cartoonist Jackie Ormes.
A selection of these comic strips are currently being featured in the Vintage Black Heroes and Vintage Black Heroines exhibitions that will be touring to museums across the country. The museum collection also includes the Friday Foster® comic strip, published by the Chicago Tribune from 1970 to 1974, and the comic book published in 1972. Friday Foster was the first positive Black female character to ever appear in her own syndicated comic strip in a non-Black publication, the second in a syndicated comic strip. Friday Foster and The Butterfly, the first Black Superheroine to be featured in a comic book in 1971, join Torchy Brown in the Vintage Black Heroines exhibition. Vintage Black Heroes and Heroines merchandise can be purchased at the museum online store (store.museumofuncutfunk.com).