Ace Harlem, Lion Man, Bubba, Sugarfoot, and Snake Oil were a few of the characters from the short-lived comic book series called All Negro Comics. The first (and only) issue was published in June of 1947. The second issue was planned and even drawn and ready to publish, but the editor found that his newsprint source would no longer sell to him, nor would any of the other newsprint vendors he called.
All Negro Comics was masterminded by Orrin C. Evans, known as the dean of black reporters. Orrin's father earned his living from the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he passed for white to be eligible for non-menial jobs. Whenever co-workers happened to come by the Evans' house, Orrin had to hide in the backroom, as his dark skin made him hard to explain, and Orrin's mother had to pretend to be the maid. Despite his family's focus on education as a way to get ahead, Orrin dropped out of school in the eighth grade to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Orrin was quite successful, eventually becoming the first black writer to cover main stories for a mainstream white newspaper, when he landed a position with the Philadelphia Record in the early nineteen-thirties. A series of articles that he wrote about segregation in the military was used to help end that practice in the nineteen-forties, but it earned him many enemies and a few death threats. Charles Lindbergh, a national hero and notorious racist once held up a press conference until Evans was ejected, believing that blacks had no business being in the national press corps.
Orrin Evans had long been a fan of comic books. He had noticed how a well drawn and written comic strip could simplify and clarify complex issues, and thought he might be able to reach more people in the largely semi-literate black community with a comic book. Orrin was determined that the comic should be of high moral value, feature black role models, and be written, drawn, produced and published by black people. All Negro Comics was born.
The first story featured Ace Harlem, a famed Dick Tracy-like detective, with zoot suited villains and a witch doctor-like herb seller. Dew Dillies is a children's story about two pixies deciding what to eat, and Ezekiel's manhunt tells about a clever young hero outwitting a crazed killer. Lion man was an American scientist sent by the United Nations to guard the world's largest uranium deposit on Africa's Gold Coast. Lion Man had a mischievous Zulu sidekick named Bubba. Hep Chicks on Parade was a page of girlie gags and Lil Eggie was about a woefully henpecked husband. The final story was about two traveling musicians named Sugarfoot and Snake Oil and their adventures with an old farmer and his beautiful daughter, Ample. The book ended with a public service announcement:
REMEMBER... CRIME DOESN'T PAY KIDS! STICK TO THE CHURCH AND USE UP YOUR ENERGY IN GOOD, CLEAN SPORTS.