The Chicago Defender (1905-present) is a weekly newspaper aimed at an Afro-American audience Over its long history it has become one of the most important and influential newspaper of its kind. The paper was a strong voice during the Jim Crow era. It urged southern blacks to move north, contributing to the "Great Migration." It fought segregation in the U.S. Army during World War II...
And, far less importantly, it gave the world Bungleton Green, a long-lasting "race comic."
Bungleton was created by Defender editorial cartoonist Leslie L. Rogers, who drew the strip until 1929. (A black artist and a black main character were certainly rarities in 1920.) Over its 43-year long run, three other artists contributed to Bungleton Green.
Bungleton was a short, balding, needle-nosed man with a top hat and large feet. Often he was portrayed as a scam artist whose plots seldom succeeded, but over the years Bungleton assumed many roles. He was poor, he was rich, he somehow became a judge...a common laborer...a tycoon. He even joined a group called the Mystic Commandos and traveled to the future, where he acquired superpowers. He married (twice, with no mention of the first wife), had a son (Cabbage) who was replaced with a niece, and was sued several times for breach of promise. Through many of the strips, Bungleton Green reflected the hopes and aspirations of its urban black readership; social and racial justice themes were woven into the comedy.
In a fairer world, Bungleton would have been much better known. But if the world had been fairer, there would never had been a need for Bungleton.
Here are five of the strips from 1927. Enjoy.