For young children who are growing up and just beginning to sort out the world and their place in it, comics can be instrumental in the development of perspective and insight into how human beings interact. This fact was well-known to cartoonist Jackie Ormes, who’s the subject of today’s Google Doodle: as the first Black female cartoonist in the United States to be published in a newspaper and the designer of one of the first high-quality Black dolls for American girls, Ormes was acutely dedicated to making sure her perspective resonated with as many people as possible.
Ormes was best known for her comic “Patty-Jo ’n’ Ginger,” which initially appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier and chronicled the adventures of two spunky and fashionable Black sisters. The witty storylines and politically acute subject matter of Ormes’ comic were particularly radical in mid-century America, which was when her comic first debuted on this day in 1945. Liz Montague, the guest artist from Philadelphia who made the Google Doodle of Ormes, told Google in an interview that the cartoonist had served as huge inspiration to her in her own work. “The illustrations are immaculate, the humor is witty, the social criticism is bitingly accurate—her work is just the total package,” Montague said. “She is why I create cartoons as social justice and why I feel valid doing it. Jackie is a genius and paved the way for so many of us as a pioneer in the cartoon and illustration world.”
Not only did Ormes dedicate her life and her art to spreading positive messaging about Black girls and women, she used her skill as a fashion designer to make sure the dolls based off her characters were immaculately dressed. In these ways, Ormes used her comics and these dolls to make sure young Black women would see themselves not just in their reading material, but be able to playact potential futures with the dolls in their hands.