Fredrik Strömberg wrote Black Images in the Comics (Fantagraphics Books, 2003). In the foreword of said book Charles Johnson stated:
[...] while the cartoonist and comics scholar in me coolly and objectively appreciated the impressive archeology of images assembled in Black Images in the Comics, as a black American reader my visceral reaction to this barrage of racist drawings from the 1840s to the 1940s was revulsion and a profound sadness.Jumping to page 86 we can find the inevitable Ebony White (the family name has to be a joke) accompanied by Will Eisner's (the character's creator) comment:
I realize that Ebony was a stereotype because I drew him in caricature - but how else could I have treated a black boy in that era, at that time?Well... Eisner could have asked East of Fifth 's author Alan Dunn
Title page of East of Fifth.
“Will Eisner’s Almanack of the Year” [December 26, 1948] as published in DC Comics’ Will Eisner’s Spirit Archives Vol. 17 (July 4 to December 26 1948), 2005.
East of Fifth, page 95.
East of Fifth, page 59.
East of Fifth, page 89.
Robert Crumb, "Nutsboy", Bogeyman # 2, 1969, as published in The Complete Crumb Comics # 5, Fantagraphics Books, July 1990.
"Angelfood McSpade", Zap # 2, June 1968, as published in The Complete Crumb Comics # 5, Fantagraphics Books, July 1990.
[...] "East of Fifth," by Alan Dunn, a cartoonist who is also a subtle and polished writer, is the story of twenty-four hours in the life of a large, fashionable Manhattan apartment house and, of course, of its occupants, told in cartoons with an accompanying text.Alan Dunn juggled with three forms: literature, comics, but above all, cartoons (he was a New Yorker cartoonist). While printed words carry the load of the narrative cartoons are lively comments on the little events that occur in the building (see below).
I bring it up here because Mr. Dunn's book may well be a brand new art form, a sort of sophisticated, literate extension of the comic books, rather horrifying in its implications to writers unable to draw. This isn't the first book in which cartoons and text tell a complete story but, to my knowledge, it's the first time anyone has attempted serious literature in this field. In this unreading age, when all the arts and much of journalism tend towards pictures, Mr. Dunn's comic book for adults is certainly significant, just a little distressing and thoroughly captivating.
Alan Dunn was an architecture cartoonist. He was as interested in the machinery of the building and the personnel running things as in bourgeois life inside it. The tone is a bit too breezy (it reminds Ben Katchor's cool and detached, if poetical, remarks, sometimes). A suicide occurs, in a masterful ellipse, nevertheless. It barely disrupts the hustle and bustle of city life though... and, maybe, that's the whole point: the book ends with a drawing and a phrase alluding to "the cold metropolis of the north."
East of Fifth, page 38.
East of Fifth, page 5.
Will Eisner, The Building, Kitchen Sink, 1987, as published in The Will Eisner Companion by N. C. Christopher Crouch and Stephen Weiner, DC Comics, 2004.
East of Fifth, page 134.__________
Update by Noah: This post inspired a roundtable on R. Crumb and race, all of which can be read here.