Smith-Mann Syndicate part II: Torchy in Heartbeats

Jackie Ormes’ Torchy in Heartbeats hits on all cylinders as an interesting obscurity. Ran in a black newspaper, written and drawn by a woman, and the subject is romance. That’s like the unassisted triple play of rarity in newspaper comics. Torchy in Heartbeats started with the color section on August 19, 1950, and outlasted the color section by a while, ending September 18, 1954. The strip also had a paper doll topper called Torchy Togs, which here in our example was bumped in favor of an ad (the ad is pretty interesting, though).

Jackie Ormes created her Torchy character much earlier in a series titled Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem. This strip ran in the Pittsburgh Courier 5/1/37 – 4/30/38. Ormes’ longest-running series, though, was a humor panel titled Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger – that one ran in the Courier for over a decade starting in 1945.

The ad for Black and White Soap is a typical example of the preaching that went on in the black papers of the time. All through these papers — not just in ads — were constant reminders to use good manners, dress properly and generally behave in a manner that reflected well on the black community. Most papers took the philosophy that good manners were vital in the cure for the racism endemic to the U.S. This preaching went out of favor in the newspapers by the 60s, but was harped on constantly before that. Quite a few comic panels in the black papers had this as their subject matter, for instance As Others See Us and Folks We Can Get Along Without.

2 comments on “Smith-Mann Syndicate part II: Torchy in Heartbeats

  1. Hi, Allan!

    It’s been years (since that reprint in Nemo No. 28, in fact) that I’ve wanted to see this strip in color. Thank You! I still hope somebody will reprint this someday.

  2. I never knew this woman or her comic strips existed. As an African American woman, it was a such a treat to read about her during her pioneer years and then to come across her comic strip. Thank you for posting this up Allan! A rare fine indeed that I will be sure to share! I would also love to see this reprinted some day. 🙂

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