Golden Age cartoonist Jackie Ormes created dramatic narratives in her comic strip Torchy in Heartbeats (Pittsburgh Courier, 1950–54) that were unique, in that they were created by a Black woman cartoonist for Black women readers. Ormes skillfully manipulated the typical strip's narrative structure to creatively depict a single Black woman freely traveling the world in the era of Jim Crow. This essay examines two specific Torchy in Heartbeats strips from 1951–52 to reveal how Ormes worked within the then-dominant framework of respectability politics—not to challenge it, but to present a Black woman navigating racialized gender discrimination and pursuing her desires despite her “respectable status,” with sometimes terrifying results. In the process, it works to redress the paucity of scholarship on Black women's contributions to comic books and strips.

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