The Museum Of UnCut Funk welcomes guest writer and fellow collector Jim Linderman. We thank him for sharing his collection of drawings by illustrationist Asa “Ace” Moore and commentary on this collection of work.
Asa Moore is a mystery, one of a million mysteries who came and went, but one who left something surprising behind. Not memories, as I suspect he was fairly isolated and generated few. Maybe not great accomplishments or even success, but what remains, at least what can be found which remains, are a number of primitive, mostly erotic, rather extraordinary pencil drawings certainly done in secret. How they were saved, even how they have come to light certainly well more than fifty years after he drew them is even a mystery.
Only two things are known about Mr. Moore. One, he was an African-American who aspired to be an artist at a time when the golden age of comic books was among us. Before Kefauver and his Subcommittee forced comic book producers to police themselves. A time when women depicted in the comics were often bound, like slaves, and men were heroes who saved them, lusted for them and even on occasion feared them. A time when a woman might carry a weapon for protection. A time when pornography was Tijuana Bibles, those little hand-drawn eight page pamphlets which circulated wherever men congregated.
Also known is that he had the nickname “Ace” which he signed on his drawings. A reference to a winning card? A wartime airplane gunner who took his share of enemy planes? Simply a common vernacular rendition of “Asa?”
The rest is speculation. The drawings were said to have been found in Ohio, but who knows how many times they changed hands before acquiring a questionable provenance? They emerged from the shallow bowels of an internet auction house…which means they could be from anywhere.
Ace was clearly a Black man. His nudes, for which there are numerous too graphic for common company, are dark, dense if you will, lush and strong Black women. Hirsute, as was the norm then, and powerful like heroines in a film which could never be made.
There were African-American comic book artists, of course…but not many, and one could count on one hand the number who were published at the time. Racism, poverty, circumstance, all conspired against the success of a Black man who drew. Certainly he was untrained. This is not the work of a schooled artist, who learned proper perspective or line placement. He barely manages a shadow correctly.
Therein lies the charm and value of Mr. Moore’s dirty drawings…Asa solved his own artistic problems with the means available to him. He used what he had. Likely meager, possibly even scarce materials at his disposal or within reach. He drew fantasy, and he may have drawn to remember a woman.
Mr. Asa Ace Moore, African-American artist left behind 38 remarkable drawings. Whether pornographic, as they are…or envisioned jungle scenes from his own mind, all depict adventurous paradise.
Jim Linderman is a collector and popular culture historian who writes the DULL TOOL DIM BULB and VINTAGE SLEAZE blogs on a daily basis. He has written numerous books, one which may be of particular interest to followers of this site. SECRET HISTORY OF THE BLACK PIN UP is the first book discussing the role of African-American women in the smut and pornography industry form 1940 to date. It was self-published, and is available in paperback or an affordable ebook from Blurb.com
HIS WEB HUB www.dulltooldimbulb.com
HIS DAILY BLOG http://dulltooldimbulb.blogspot.com/