Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jay Jackson

Jay Paul was born in Oberlin, Ohio, on September 10, 1905, according to Who’s Who in Colored America, Volume 7 (1950). Jackson’s parents were Franklin R. Jackson and Nellie Curry.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Jackson was the fourth of five children whose father was a photographer. The family resided in Delaware, Ohio at 41 Ohio Street.

According to the 1920 census, Jackson and his younger sister lived with their parents in Delaware at 119 David Street.

Who’s Who said Jackson married Adeline C. Smith in 1925. Jackson attended Ohio Wesleyan University from 1925 to 1926. Beginning in 1926 Jackson was a feature artist with the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Jackson produced two weekly panels, Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us and The Jingle Belles, for the Courier in 1928. That same year Jackson began studies at the Chicago Art Institute. Jackson was a poster artist for the Warner Brothers’ theaters from 1928 to 1933. Jackson also contributed illustrations to the digest, Abbott’s Monthly, in 1928 and 1929. Abbott’s publisher was Robert S. Abbott who also published the weekly newspaper, Chicago Defender, which printed editorial cartoons by Jackson. In MELUS, Summer 2014, Amy M. Mooney said Jackson formally joined the Defender staff in 1933. The short-lived Abbott’s Weekly was another periodical with Jackson’s art.

The 1930 census recorded Jackson, a widower, as a lodger in Chicago at 465 Oakwood Boulevard. His occupation was commercial artist for theaters.

According to Who’s Who, Jackson painted the mural, Old Mexico, for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. In 1934, Jackson began a fourteen year relationship with the New York Amsterdam News newspaper. Jackson’s second marriage was to Eleanor K. Poston of Republican, Nebraska, in 1935.

According to American Newspaper Comics, Jackson produced several comics strips, panels and advertising strips throughout the 1930s: As Others See Us (1933); The Adventures of Bill (1934); Bungleton Green (1934; the third artist on Leslie M. Rogers’ creation); Fan Tan Anne (1935); Society Sue (1935); Bibsy (1935); Between Us (1936); Memphis Blue (1936); Cream Puff (1936); Tish Mingo (1937); Ben Franklin (1938); So What? (1939); and Billy Ken (1939).

Some of Jackson’s commercial work was featured recently at the Chicago Cultural Center.

In 1940, cartoonist Jackson, his wife and thirteen-year-old daughter, Carrie, resided at 6011 South May Street in Chicago. The census record said Jackson earned $1,800 in 1939. Who’s Who said Jackson did fashion art, layout, and catalog design or the National Clothing Company throughout the 1940s. During World War II Jackson produced cartoons for the Office of War Information and The Sergeant for Office of Price Administration in 1945. Jackson received a citation from Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, for the cartoons and posters backing the war bond campaign.

American Newspaper Comics said Jackson drew Exposition Follies (1940); Speed Jaxon (1942–1947); Ravings of Professor Doodle (1947); and Glamour Town (1948).

The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier (2008) explains Jackson’s role in the company’s 1948 advertising campaign which ran in Ebony magazine. Who’s Who said Jackson was art director at Negro Digest and Ebony.

Some time in the late 1940s, Jackson moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1949, Norman Rockwell lectured at Art Center College of Design. Who’s Who said Jackson studied with Rockwell that year.

The Arkansas State Press, September 8, 1950, reported Jackson’s two-page illustration for the latest edition of Who’s Who in Colored America.

The montage represents the manifold callings and interests of the over 3,000 persons whose biographical sketches will be carried in the publication—from Army officers to United Nations officials. The layout, printed in sepia, will decorate the inside covers…
The article went on to say that Jackson “also did special work, summers, under Rockwell Kent and at the Los Angeles Art Institute….He now conducts a national art service for advertisers from his Los Angeles studios (2306 West 23rd Street). In 1951 Jackson provided artwork for Who’s Who in the United Nations.

American Newspaper Comics said the Jay Jackson Features Syndicate produced Girligags and Home Folks in the 1950s.

According to Who’s Who, Jackson received two Guild awards for newspaper cartoons. He was a member of the American Newspaper Guild and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Jackson passed away May 16, 1954 in Los Angeles, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com. His death was reported in Jet, May 27, 1954.

—Alex Jay 


Some might know Jackson for his illustrations for Ziff-Davis magazines in the early 1940s. He was a regular in the pages of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures. His dynamic drawing style was instantly recognizable.
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