Friday Funnies: The Black Comic Book, Pt. 3

I laughed out loud at this one, perhaps because of the linguistic parallel construction.

More on The Colored Negro Black Comic Book by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

Note: in the comic strip tradition all the words in the strip are in capitals, but for readability, I’ve deigned to write in standard English. Also the words that are in bold in the strip are in red in this text.

“Mother Eartha”, a 4 page response to “Mary Worth”

Page 1:

Page 2, Panel 1:
Young woman: Oh, Aunt Mother Eartha, my husband has been out of work for months – with no job in sight…
Page 2, Panel 2:
(Shot of the coffee pot, young woman’s hand pouring java into Eartha’s cup)
Young woman: – our unemployment checks stopped coming, the welfare payments are low, our bills keep climbing-

Page 3, Panel 1:
Young woman: -my son’s lost heart and is fighting the system – taking dope rioting….
Page 3, Panel 2:
Young woman (on sofa, in background): – my daughter’s pregnant again and her husband lost his job- oh – oh –ooh

Page 4 IS MISSING FROM THE BOOK! How does this end? I wish I knew! Anyone near the library at Michigan State University want to tell me how this concludes?

***

Dark Racey, a 4-page take on “Dick Tracy”.

There is no table of contents, or for that matter, pagination, the only reason I know the name of the next story is from the citation at MSU. Of course, page 1 of this story is missing as well.

Page 2:

Page 3, Panel 1:
Racy: -Perhaps you suspect someone on your own police force?
Sheriff: This boy’s seen too many movies?
Page 3, Panel 2
(Sheriff firing gun: Bam Wam Fam Jam

Page 4:
(Racy on the ground in a pool of blood, three holes in head and shoulder, word “holes” with arrows pointing to them. Another cop stands at attention.)
Sheriff: See that the murderer gets to the morgue…

This is obvious a take on “In the Heat of the Night”, yet another Sidney Poitier movie, but with a…different outcome. Disturbing, believable, but not particularly funny.

***

“King Coal”, a 4-page retort to The Little King.

Page 1

Page 2, Panel 1
The crowd: Long live the King of Liberalia!
The photographer (in foreground talking to a man in a hat): How magnificent! A black king!
Page 2, Panel 2:
Man in hat: That’s because Liberarians are a great liberal people!

Page 3, Panel 1:
Photographer: Where is the king of Liberalia’s castle?
Man in hat: Over yonder kill.
Page 3, Panel 2:
Photographer sweats up the hill.
Page 3, Panel 2:
Photographer: !

Page 4:
King entering decrepit castle with clotheslines running from crooked turrets to adjoining building and a couple with a baby in clothes with patches.

If you thought taking shots at liberals was a recent activity, think again. A real “gotcha” strip, which I liked all right.

***
“Charcoal Chin”, a 4 page reply to “Charlie Chan”. Was this ever a strip, or just a series of movies?

Page 1:

Page 2, Panel 1:
Charcoal (to son)” – And, as it is added in the great proverbs – “We are all blacks…”
Page 2, Panel 2:
Charcoal (looking at bullet):…we are all Orientals, we are all Eskimos…

Page 3, Panel 1:
Charcoal (to son):…we are all Parisians…we are all New Yorkers-
Page 3, Panel 2:
Page 3, Panel 2:
Son: -And, I suppose, Pop – we are all whites?
Charcoal: Taxi!

Page 4
Taxi driver gives Chins the raspberry. Logo- Bigot & Redneck Taxi Corp. Rates .45 ½ mile.
Charcoal: – To every rule, my son – there is an exception – and, like Confucius say, boy, have you found it!

As I recall, there was a feeling in 1970 that people of color were in the same boat. Don’t think that perception is nearly so true today.
The person cited in the first panel was JFK, of course. A number of comic book (and other) people nearly deified the martyred President, maybe not over who he was, but over who he might have become.
***
“Blackman and Crow”, a 4-page rendition of “Batman and Robin”

Page 1:

Page 2, Panel 1:
Minstrel: ‘Member? [Sings]Wayy down ‘pon the Swa-nee Ri-buh-
Crow: Let’s take him, Blackman!
Blackman: [hums] Hm-mm
Page 2, Panel 2:
Minstrel: ‘Member – [Sings] -in mah ol’ Kin-tucky hooome
Blackman (smiling, singing): La-de
Robin scowls.

Page 3, Panel 1:
Blackman and Minstrel [singing]: Oool’ Black Joooe-
Page 3, Panel 2:
Crow’s hand firing a gun
Gun noise: Crack! Ack! Tack! Lack

Page 4:
Blackman, Minstrel dead on the floor, four bullet holes in the back wall, which has a framed photo, signed Love, Stepin.
Crow: This damn generation gap is something else!!
A diminutive Pogo (looking at deceased): My!

This story seemed to be addressing the struggle in the civil rights movement at the time, between the NAACP/Urban League old-line organizations, and the Black Panthers and other more militant groups. The old-timers were still following the model of the late Martin Luther King, while the younger folks believed, “By any means necessary.”

For me, this was one of the most fully realized takes, possibly because of my deep awareness of the Batman mythos.

The reference of Stepin was to Stepin Fetchit, a controversial black actor known for his stereotypical portrayals of a black minstrel.

***

“Boll Weevil Barley”, a 4-page take on “Beetle Bailey”:

Page 1:
Boll Weevil (to no one in particular, though black versions of Zero and Killer are around): This is a mighty weird comic strip.

Page 2:

Page 3:
Killer-type (turns head): Oop! You had to open your big fat mouth!
Boll Weevil (thinking): ?

Page 4:
Boll Weevil and Killer-type are saluting white Sarge, while black cook looks on.

This again addresses the large percentage of blacks in the armed forces in Vietnam, usually at the lowest levels, as “grunts” rather than officers.

***

“Darkie”, a 4-page variation on “Archie”.

Page 1:
Jughead: Gee, it’s groovy having a new kid in town, Darkie-
Darkie: thanks- it’s groovy being here!

Page 2

Page 3, Panel 1:
Guys in silhouette.
Jughead: Where do you live, Darkie?
Page 3, Panel 2:
Darky: Just down the block, too.

Page 4:
Darky: -Mine’s the one with the white pickets!
Jughead (jaw dropping): !
Pickets holding signs that say:
Out! Out! Out!
Keep Out!
Live with your own kind
Leave white to white
Don’t let them besmirch our town

The use of the name “Darkie” must have been rather controversial at the time, for it was a term used as an insult to black people.

That said, I laughed out loud at this one, perhaps because of the linguistic parallel construction “White picket fence”/”White pickets”. I also love the word “besmirch” in this context, since it was the pickets who were doing the besmirching. Also, Darkie is quite matter-of-fact about the protest, unlike his new friend.

Compare and contrast, as my old English teacher used to say, Fred’s review of Little Archie.

Previously used on February 12 and 19, 2006.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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