Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger

Slate has a not-to-be-missed article today about the mid-20th Century cartoonist Jackie Ormes and her "Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger" panel cartoon.

Ormes drew in the 1940's and '50s for the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper whose circulation peaked at 200,000. No "Amos 'n' Andy" here, the examples in the article are quite topical -- I'd go so far as to call them editorial cartoons. Ginger is a fashionable young lady, playing straight (wo)man to Patty-Jo, a sassy child wise beyond her years.

I have to wonder -- perversely -- whether in her naming of the mostly silent Ginger, Ormes was in some way trying to co-opt or de-fang that vulgar racist word for which "Ginger" is an anagram. Or am I reading too much into it?

Do read Rebecca Onion's Slate.com article, and check out Nancy Goldstein's biography of Ormes here.

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