History of Material Texts: Making the First Black Comic Book

Sean Quimby, Director, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

 

September 12, 2022 - 5:15 pm to 7:00 pm @ Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library and via Zoom
Front cover of All Negro Comics, 1947

Note: This event will be in person and also live-streamed. To receive a Zoom link for this seminar, please email Aylin Malcolm. For information about the Workshop in the History of Material Texts, please visit the website.

All-Negro Comics (1947) is generally regarded as the first comic book produced by and for African Americans. The man behind it, Philadelphia journalist Orrin C. Evans, imagined a sustained run with global distribution. But only one copy was ever produced. Understanding how and why All-Negro Comics was so short-lived requires us to examine the intersection of race and racism with the material contexts of comic book production and distribution in the 1940s. This talk aims to build on a growing scholarly literature around the history of race and comics by looking at the process by which All-Negro Comics might have made its way, in Evans’ words, from the “brush stroke(s) and pen line(s)” of its artists into the hands of readers.

Event Series

Drawing of a physician picking herbs from Paris, BnF lat. 6862, f. 18v (detail)

Workshop in the History of Material Texts

The Workshop in the History of Material Texts is a weekly seminar that features scholars presenting a wide variety of research in book history, bibliography, manuscript studies, history of reading, publication and printing, and related topics.

Image: All-Negro Comics, no. 1 (June, 1947), Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.