Arts and Entertainment

Cartoonists

What cartoonist became popular as a social satirist?

In 1933 artist and cartoonist Oliver Harrington (1912–1995), one of America’s most popular social satirists, created the first cartoon to focus on black American life. His early characters portrayed life during the Harlem Renaissance. His first comic strip, “Boop,” was featured in the Pittsburgh Courier on March 11, 1933 (it was renamed “Scoop” on March 18). On May 25, 1935, Harrington published a panel in New York’s Amsterdam News entitled “Dark Laughter.” On December 28 of that same year he introduced the Bootsie character to the panel; this character continued in the newspaper for several years and was published later in the Courier. For forty years, Bootsie appeared in black newspapers. Harrington was born in the Valhalla community of West chester County near New York City. He arrived in Harlem toward the end of the Harlem Renaissance and supported himself by working as a freelance artist. In 1940 he graduated from Yale University and started work on a master of fine arts degree.

Harrington illustrated Ellen F. Tarry’s The Runaway Elephant, published in 1950. The American Institute of Graphic Arts selected both the book’s cover and illustrations as one of the Fifty Best American Books that year—the first time the institute had so recognized a black artist. His book Bootsie and Others, an anthology of cartoons, was published in 1958.



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