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For immediate release:

Two new books from Black newspaper great Ollie Harrington, and more

 


There's a segment of American newspaper cartooning that is all too overlooked. During the 20th century, papers aimed specifically at the African American audience thrived, and with them came their own comics pages, filled with characters that were inspirational and aspirational. There were comics about great Black people in history, and fictional adventures of Black reporters, Black pilots, Black superheroes, Black socialites, and so forth.
And then there was Bootsie. Bootsie was a scheming, scamming, lazy, womanizing troublemaker who was nonetheless beloved by his Harlem community. Created by Ollie Worthington, whom Langston Hughes called "Negro America's favorite cartoonist," Bootsie was the star of the weekly single-panel cartoon "Dark Laughter" which ran in Black papers for decades starting in 1935. The series combined a wicked sense of humor with a blunt look at the state of racial relationships in America. Most of these panels have not been seen since their original publication, and those that had been collected were in a book that's been out of print for over half a century and which costs hundreds of dollars on the collector market. Now About Comics has arranged with Harrington's widow to be allowed to bring hundreds of these back into print in a pair of new books.
Bootsie's War Years collects cartoons from 1941 through 1946. During this very telling and yet very funny run of cartoons, we see Bootsie first evading the World War II draft, then getting enlisted, trained, sent overseas to fight, and ultimately return as an American vet who still faces the problems of a nation with deeply-seated racism. Annotations explain the terminology and cultural references of the day. The book's forward by University of South Carolina professor Qiana Whitted, who has won an Eisner Award for her writings on comics and race, looks at how these cartoons reflect and exemplify the "Double V" campaign for victory both in the war and in the battle for true democracy over the entrenched racial prejudices.
Bootsie's Big '50s is a big 8.5"x11" book to show off close to 150 cartoons from mid-1954 to early 1958, including the period when the panel moved from the comics page to be the cover of the magazine section. While still having a lot of Bootsie cartoons, the series also breaks away from him and his Harlem environs to cover topics of the moment such as school desegregation.
But while Harrington may have been the king of the cartoonists in the African-American newspapers, he was far from the only one. Also just released is the first ever book collection of Breezy, a humor strip about a teenager by Tap Melvin. "Tap" is a (rather obvious) pen name for Melvin Tapley, who, in addition to his various comics work, was an illustrator, cover artist, and even a co-publisher of the famed Negro Travelers' Green Book travel guides. Brreezy Biggins is a smart, playful, and ambitious lad with a typical teenage boy's fascination with girls and an atypical obsession with baking soda. 
All three books are available for immediate purchase from Amazon. These are not being offered through the direct market distributors; interested shops can purchase wholesale directly from About Comics.
Bootsie's War Years: a Dark Laughter collection (ISBN: 978-1-949996-33-3) by Ollie Harrington with a foreword by Qiana Whitted is a 6"x9" black-and-white 160 page paperback with a cover price of US$18.
Bootsie's Big '50s: a Dark Laughter collection (ISBN: 978-1-949996-35-7) by Ollie Harrington is a 154 page 8.5"x11" black-and-white paperback with a cover price of US$18.
Breezy (ISBN: 978-1-949996-40-1) by Melvin Tapley working as Tap Melvin is a 100 page, 8.5"x6" black-and-white paperback with a cover price of US$8.99.








 Cartoons copyright © Dr. Helma Harrington, Berlin. Used by permission.


The mighty-but-tiny About Comics has been publishing comics and comics-related books (and occasionally "what's that doing on their list?" items like The Negro Motorist Green Book) for decades. Find out more at http://www.AboutComics.com

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