Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Orrin C. Evans from "More Heroes of the Comics"

My new book More Heroes of the Comics, includes the first African American publisher of comic books, Orrin C. Evans. Evans published just one issue of All-Negro Comics in 1947.
Orrin C. Evans

Orrin Cromwell Evans was born in Steelton, Pennsylvania. Evans’s mother, Maude, was the first African American to graduate from Williamsport Teacher’s College.
Evans dropped out of school at seventeen, and worked for Sportsman’s Magazine and the black-owned Philadelphia Tribune. In the early ’30s, he landed a job as a general assignment reporter, for the 100-percent-white-staffed Philadelphia Record. Evans was not always readily accepted as a journalist. Meeting with re- porters after his son was kidnapped in 1932, Charles Lindbergh refused to start the press conference until Evans was removed from the room. Evans’ wartime exposĂ© of racial segregation in the Armed Forces resulted in death threats.
After the war, the owners of the Record responded to a prolonged labor action by shutting the paper down for good. 

In 1947, Orrin C. Evans would become the first African American publisher of comic books, joining forces with his former editor, Harry T. Saylor, to launch All-Negro Comics. The first issue featured art by Evans’s brother, George J. Evans Jr. and black artists from Philadelphia and Baltimore. The book’s content was a grab-bag of detective, humor, and adventure stories, fea- turing characters like Lion Man, Li’l Eggie, and Ace Harlem. Time magazine said All-Negro Comics was “the first to be drawn by negro artists and peopled entirely by negro characters.” Although a second issue was prepared, it never saw print. Newsprint vendors refused to sell to Evans, and the series was abandoned. Soon after, mainstream publishers began publishing comic books (like Fawcett’s Negro Romance), targeted at a black readership.
Evans returned to newspapers, working at the Chester Times and the Philadelphia Bulletin. 

research by Kevin Dougherty

my original pencil sketch of Evans

the finished art

the cover of the first and only issue

The entire issue can be viewed here:

inside front cover of the issue.

More Heroes of the Comics can be ordered here:


thanks to John Wendler and Kevin Dougherty

1 comment:

  1. Amazing ....... and right awful that those who then populated the space & place that they did, were so blind & damaged as to deny Orrin Evans and Co. their simple right to do Great Things.

    Another excellent blogging.