So Cayla states, AND I QUOTE, “He told me that one thing that gave him some solace…was reminding himself that he wasn’t like them.”
And so, I am willing to rest my case, and conclude that in an arc about racial profiling Batiuk and his team got two black characters confused because they looked too much alike.
There remains the outside chance that I am wrong, that the ‘wisdom’ Cayla spouts is also something her father, Smokey Williams, will be shown saying in his original arc. I will let you know my findings in the comments section when my copy of Strike Four! arrives. And I will add a retraction statement to this post if I was wrong.
But for now, lets look a little closer at the Jefferson Jacks arc. In truth, it was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw last Saturday’s strip, because it was the most significant arc I could think of that tackled racism. The storyline ran in Crankshaft from September 15 to October 12 in 2008. The following are some highlight strips, to give you all an abridged rundown.
First things first. I tried digging through the Toledo Mud Hens rosters to see if they ever integrated before the team moved to West Virginia in ’52. I couldn’t find any black players, though many didn’t have easily googleable pictures. But the Mud Hens integrating in ’47 is a bit of fictional license.
Second. While I couldn’t in my quick and dirty internet search blitz find instances of players confronting disgruntled potentially violent townsfolk, or a black player having to walk to a game, much of what is depicted in the arc is similar to what early integration-era ballplayers went through. I could find instances of heckling from the stands, eating and sleeping on buses, being boarded with local families, and having some white teammates be cold and others be friendly. Crankshaft being ‘one of the good ones’ is, of course, heavy-handed and self-serving. But I really didn’t hate this little story. And the art was especially nice.
This feels so oddly well researched for Batiuk work, doesn’t it?
Finally, in a bit of Crankshaft news, the Crankshaft story dealing with the black baseball player Jefferson Jacks has been nominated for a Glyph Award in the Best Comic Strip category by the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention which takes place on May 16th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia. Just a bit of backstory here… a good friend, Tony Isabella, had suggested I write a story about a black minor league ballplayer who would have played with Ed Crankshaft on the Toledo Mud Hens. I was out of pocket on the Lisa’s Story book tour around that time, so I suggested to Tony, a fine comics writer in his own “write”, that he do it… and he did. Later, when Tony’s scripts came in, I wrote the Sunday strips to wrap around the story and they were then beautifully illustrated by Chuck Ayers. If I say so myself, it’s a fine story and I’m very pleased that it was nominated by the judges.
Finally, part two… the current Jefferson Jacks story was written by me as I recuperated after my accident last year, but Tony and I had such a good time with J.J., that we’re working on some new stuff for down the road.Tom Batiuk, blog post dated April, 15, 2009
He had a ghost writer for the story! Tony Isabella is a fellow Ohio native who’s written for Marvel and DC. He’s best known as the creator of Black Lighting.
The ‘current Jefferson Jacks story’ referenced in the blog post was, of course when Jacks played ball in pre-revolution Cuba. Since it was penned by Batiuk, I’m sure was just as well researched and substantiated as the arc Isabella wrote.
Tomorrow is the last day of my shift. I can continue the saga of Jefferson Jacks for you all, if you’d like. Show you the conclusion to another Funkyverse story of prejudice.
Or, it’s not to late to learn all the exciting facts about Styrofoam and linoleum.