The historic All-Negro Comics #1, published in 1947, was a single-issue comic book that is the first known comic book written and drawn solely by African-American writers and artists and featuring black superheroes. Remastered and digitally enhanced.
Working for the Philadelphia Record, Orrin Cromwell Evans was the first black writer to cover general assignments for a mainstream white newspaper in the United States. After the Record closed in 1947, Evans thought he could use comic books to further highlight “the splendid history of Negro journalism”. Evans partnered with former Record editor Harry T. Saylor, Record sports editor Bill Driscoll, and two others (John Terrell and “Cooper”) to found the Philadelphia publishing company All-Negro Comics, Inc., with himself as president. In mid-1947, the company published All-Negro Comics, a 48-page, standard-sized comic book with a typical glossy color cover and newsprint interior. It was copyrighted July 15, 1947, with a June 1947 issue date. Its press run and distribution are unknown.
Evans attempted to publish a second issue but was unable to purchase the newsprint required. It is believed Evans was blocked from doing so by prejudiced distributors, as well as from competing, white-owned publishers.
All-Negro Comics #1 contains the following stories:
- Editorial, “All-Negro Comics: Presenting Another First in Negro History”
- “Ace Harlem”, a private detective feature drawn by John Terrell
- “The Little Dew Dillies”, a children’s feature starring cherub-like creatures only babies can see and talk to, drawn by Cooper
- “Ezekiel’s Manhunt”, a two-page boy’s-adventure text story
- “Lion Man and Bubba”, starring a college-educated African American sent by the United Nations on a mission to a uranium deposit on Africa’s Gold Coast, where he adopted the mischievous orphan Bubba. Drawn by George J. Evans, Jr. (no relation to Caucasian comic-book and comic-strip artist George Evans). One modern-day writer said Lion Man “wore the obligatory leotard costume of the comic hero”,] though the comic’s cover and interior pages depict him in loin cloth.
- “Hep Chicks on Parade”, spot-illustration gags with highly stylized women wearing exaggerated fashions, signed “Len”
- “Lil’ Eggie”, by Terrell, about henpecked husband Egbert and his wife
- “Sugarfoot”, a humor feature, drawn by Cravat, starring traveling musicians Sugarfoot and Snake Oil, who try to woo a farmer’s daughter. Evans’ editorial said the feature’s creators hoped “to recapture the almost lost humor of the loveable wandering Negro minstrel of the past.”
- “Remember — Crime Doesn’t Pay, Kids!”, a one-page public service announcement and next-issue promo, with Ace Harlem