Black Artist Barbara Brandon-Croft Releases New Book Saluting Her Journey as a Pioneer Cartoonist

She put her pen to the paper and wrote a bold letter. Decades later, the pitch still holds its value.

Barbara Brandon-Croft, the first African American woman to ever have a comic strip syndicated to the mainstream press, released her new book Where I’m Coming From: Selected Strips, 1991-2005, a salute to her work as a cartoonist and first ever syndicated comic strip.

According to The Washington Post, the book follows the journey of the nine central female characters, who in her original comic, “Where I’m Coming From,” speak the truths of Brandon-Croft. Additionally, the book features essays and letters spotlighting the brilliance of her work that was described as “minimalist” and having “no backgrounds or panels,” just “abstract and freeing.”

“I was just being honest with myself, taking all these parts of me and putting them on the page,” the cartoonist said.

“I felt like I was pushing against history,” she mentioned in an interview.

Brandon-Croft wrote an attention-catching letter to newspaper syndicates, addressing the lack of Black Women Cartoonists to enter national syndication.

“I’m tired of women being summed up by their body parts,” she wrote in a 1992 article for the publication Cartoonist PROfiles.

“I’m interested in giving my women a little more dignity,” she added. “I want folks to understand that women — in addition to breasts — have ideas and opinions. Look us in the eye and hear what we’re saying, please!”

Brandon-Croft was born in 1958 and grew up on Long Island, in New Cassel, NY. The cartoonist said she drew inspiration from watching her late father Brumsic Brandon Jr., who was an artist for the pioneering New York City children’s TV program, Time for Joya!

Brandon-Croft attended Syracuse University, where she sketched for the school’s paper, crediting her understanding of human relationships to her non-artistic studies.

“Where I’m Coming From,” began appearing in the Detroit Free Press in 1989 after an editor reached out to her father in search of a new creator.

Universal Press Syndicate editor Lee Salem replied to Brandon-Croft’s pitch after noticing her excellence in the craft.

“It’s rare to have such a good ear for nuance and character,” Salem said.

Universal signed her and launched the strip into national syndication in 1991, where she began to deepen the comic’s themes, before the strip grew towards distribution to around 60 newspapers.

Brandon-Croft’s new book is available now for purchase.