Cheryl Lynn, a.k.a Digital Femme, isn’t just our co-worker at PW COMICS WEEK. She’s also one of the smartest voices out there. Now she might just be starting something important.
It seems that while there are gay cartoonists, and women cartoonists and black cartoonists, there is one kind of cartoonist that you have to search high and low to find: black women in comics. A few weeks ago, Cheryl put out the call for the names of black women who are involved in the comics business and came up with 13 names : a lot more than anyone else ever did. Now she’s got an even bigger idea: The Ormes Society, named after Jackie Ormes, creator of TORCHY BROWN, and the first nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist, all the way back in 1937:
That’s when I came up with the idea of the Ormes Society. Black women are out there creating, but unlike our peers, we have the tendency to create in a vacuum. And while other creators use message boards and activist organizations to wisely network and receive emotional support, we post our thoughts and creations on individual websites and then wonder why various activist organizations don’t reflect our viewpoints or interests. How can I have the nerve to be irritated by how sites devoted to black creators are dominated by men and books with superhero themes (and on occasion, “hot” black model threads) if I never add my own contributions? How can I be irked by the fact that none of the members of the sites devoted to women in comics commented on the dearth of brown-skinned girls as characters in the MINX line if I never registered on those boards to make a post about that topic in the first place?
The Ormes Society would be a bit of a stepping stone or gateway. It’d be a place where black female comic creators and fans could (1) find each other (2) share our creations (3) talk about topics that are important to us and (4) gain the courage needed to bring those thoughts and creations to the larger comic reading/creating audience. It would also be a place for editors, fans and fellow creators to find us and share their thoughts about our work and about topics that pertain to black women in comics (both in the pages and behind the scenes).
The problem with any kind of club based on race or gender is that it can further marginalization. But it would be hard to marginalize a group that is already so small. Getting even more voices heard is what comics still needs. Cheryl is still seeking more names for her roster. If you are interested in The Ormes Society, drop her a line. Step forward and be counted.
[Art, left, by Alitha Martinez.]