Friday Foster, first nationally syndicated comic strip across the US with a black female lead character, collected at last

There’s terrific news for fans of the stunning 1970s US newspaper strip, Friday Foster, this week. 50 years since it debuted, an English language collection of the strip – considered to be the first nationally syndicated comic strip with a black female lead character – is on its way from Ablaze Publishing, edited by Christopher Marlon.

The Friday Foster Collected book is a project edited by Javier Meson and David Moreu for Spanish publisher Norma Editorial, the result of two years of work, created with input and supervision from Longarón before he died last year.

The collection, which will be published by Norma Editorial in Spanish first, includes the strip, plus exclusive interviews and previously unreleased material from Longarón’s archives.

Friday Foster Collected - Cover

The Friday Foster comic strip, co-created by James Bond newspaper strip writer Jim Lawrence and Spanish artist Jorge Longarón, with art also by Gray Morrow, debuted on 18th January 1970 and ran until 1974 and was the first mainstream syndicated comic strip to feature a Black woman in the lead role.

Friday Foster is the story of a former nightclub “camera bunny” turned photographer’s assistant turned fashion model. With an innate inclination to help others and a natural beauty that makes her a magnet for men, Friday often finds herself in some very sticky situations and world-class adventures.

The first Friday Foster newspaper strip, published in 1970

The first Friday Foster newspaper strip, published in 1970

For the first time ever, this book will collect and reprint the classic Sunday newspaper comic strip created by James D. “Jim” Lawrence (of Buck Rogers and James Bond fame) and artist Jorge “Jordi” Longaron, who also worked on various British comics, a strip later drawn by Gray Morrow.

The strip inspired the 1972 Dell single-issue comic book and the 1975 movie of the same name starring Pam Grier.

Friday Foster Collected will also include a significant bonus section including multiple interviews, an expanded sketchbook section, artwork, photos, essays, articles, behind-the-scenes info, and more.

Regular downthetubes readers will recall we’ve previously featured Friday Foster, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune, in our a tribute to artist Jorge Longarón, who died last year aged 86, and our item on a great book, Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whale, which took me on quite a journey of discovery back in 2016.

Friday Foster only appeared in about twenty US newspapers, mostly major metropolitan – not only the Chicago Tribune, but titles such as the New York News. Despite a relatively short run, the character is fondly remembered, and the character made a welcome appearance in a two-week Dick Tracy storyline last September, written by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis with art by Andrew Pepoy. You can read it here on GoComics.

Friday Foster returned to comics last year, guest starring in a Dick Tracy adventure Friday Foster returned to comics last year, guest starring in a Dick Tracy adventure

Friday Foster returned to comics last year, guest starring in a Dick Tracy adventure

Prior to Friday Foster, other than a handful of broadly stereotyped caricatures from the industry’s very early days and a few series aimed solely at Black newspapers such as “Torchy Brown” drawn by Jackie Ormes, published between 1937 and 1938, no American comic strip had ever borne the name of a Black lead character.

Offered in hardcover by Ablaze Publishing, Friday Foster Collected, due for release was conceived and edited by Christopher Marlon, and this is the first time the comic has ever been collected in book form. It’s fitting that the collection should appear this year – the 50th Anniversary of the strip’s debut back in 1970.

Friday Foster art by Jorje Longaron (Jordi Longarón)

Friday Foster art by Jorje Longaron (Jordi Longarón)

“The art is awesome and the stories are fun,” enthuses Christopher. “And it’s great to see a black character going on globetrotting adventures in the 1970s!

“I really enjoyed bringing all the elements together so I could share this little piece of wonderful comic strip history.  I hope you will enjoy it too!”

If you’re into this kind of pop culture, put the 24th June 2020 date on your calendar so you can get a copy.

The mantra of Portland-based Ablaze Publishing is quality first, with the goals of giving creators a platform, bringing new voices into the conversation, serving as diverse an audience as possible and bringing some of the best content from all corners of the globe to readers.

Among other projects, they have published an English language edition of Charlie Adlard’s Vampire State Building and are also publishing English language editions of Glenat’s Conan graphic novels, including an uncensored comic adaptation of the Robert E. Howard Conan story Red Nails, written by Regis Hautiere, with art by Olivier Vatine and Didier Cassegrain.

While Conan is in the public domain in Europe, in the US, the rights to publish Conan comics – and the trademark – is held by Conan Properties and currently licensed to Marvel Comics. The Ablaze reprint project has therefore not been without its difficulties, but Red Nails now looks to be on course for a May 2020 release.

Friday Foster Collected is available to order from your Local Comic Shop via Diamond Previews, order code FEB201364 and your local bookshop ISBN 978-1-950912-06-3

• Ablaze Publishing is online at ablazepublishing.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Friday Foster starring Pam Grier is available to buy here on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whale is available to buy here on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Read Friday Foster’s return adventure in Dick Tracy here on GoComics

Friday Foster: Black Heroine, White Male Creators – an essay by Mark Carlson

Read some episodes of Friday Foster on The Bronze Age of Blogs

This article was updated on 2nd February to clarify the project’s creators for Norma Editorial – see separate item. Thanks to Kurt Busiek and Christopher Marlon

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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