Coloring Outside the Lines

April 27th, 2010

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— Laura Leone @ 10:23 am

Coloring Outside The Lines: Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators is a new exhibit coming to the San Francisco Public Library’s African American Center that reveals a comic strip’s power to transcend the breakfast table as an instrument for social dialogue. The display, opening April 11th, celebrates the work of nine nationally-recognized Black cartoonists including New Village Press author Keith Knight, who will show his strip the Purple People, among others. Knight will be showcasing his work along with the East Bay legendary cartoon artist Morrie Turner, whose comic strip Wee Pals was among the first in US history to feature African American characters in a positive light during the racially-charged 1960s.

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One story in particular stands out among the many woven into the comic strips on display at the library. In the comic “Soul Corner,” Turner honors the late Dr. Robert Scott (1944-2009), a man internationally acclaimed for his care of HIV infected patients around the world and the founder of the AIDS Project of the East Bay. In his lifetime, Scott treated over 450 men and women infected with HIV, fought the homophobic stigmas attributed to the virus, and became the first African American doctor licensed to practice and treat the spread of AIDS in Zimbabwe. (As reported by Jesse Brooks for Post News)

Turner spoke to reporter Jesse Brooks of his motivation for Soul Corner, saying “I knew a lot of [Dr. Scott’s] patients… the way they revered him made me feel strongly about honoring him in my own way.”

The Soul Corner strip will be on exhibit side by side with another strip featuring President Obama. Curator Kheven LaGrone looks forward to the discourse the comics are meant to generate. “For this show I have pieces I agree with, and some I don’t. I let the artists give their point of view,” he said. “Cartooning [as art] is interesting to me because black cartoonists can say things with their characters that you’re not supposed to say.”

For more information on the exhibit, see the flier below or e-mail the curator Kheven LaGrone at
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