Sponsored by The Grolier Club
Nov 15, 6:00pm-7:30 Eastern time
Georgia physician Walter Evans, collector of historical and contemporary African American art and literature, in conversation with Jenny Robb, Head Curator of Comics and Cartoon Art at the Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, about Black cartoonist Oliver “Ollie” Harrington (1912-1995). Harrington was the subject of an exhibition, “Dark Laughter Revisited: The Life and Times of Ollie Harrington,” at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in early 2022. This retrospective featured work from Dr. Evans’ collection, as well as that of the Museum’s collection, acquired from Harrington’s widow Dr. Helma Harrington. Dr. Evans gave a talk about his collections for Grolier Club members last September.
Ollie Harrington used his voice and artistic talents as a cartoonist to attack racial, economic and social injustice with razor-sharp wit and insight. From the perspective of a cartoonist of color, his commentary chronicled many of the events and issues that defined the 20th century, from segregation and apartheid to war and poverty. His life and career intersected with the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, the Black emigre community in Paris after WWII, and communist East Germany. Starting in the 1930s, Harrington’s work was widely published in the Black press. His long-running series “Dark Laughter” – later known as “Bootsie” – cast a satirical yet affectionate gaze on Black America through the adventures of an observant African American “everyman.” During WWII he served as a war correspondent and later worked briefly as the NAACP’s PR director. Harrington was an unapologetic activist and critic of racism and capitalism, who emigrated to Paris in 1952 and ultimately to Berlin in 1961, in response to concern about FBI surveillance due to his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government. He continued his career there, publishing trenchant editorial cartoons in the “Daily World” and the German satirical publication, “Eulenspiegel.”