The eight-page color comic section produced for the Pittsburgh Courier is the only attempt I’m aware of to do a color comics section in a Black paper.* Although the Courier’s section, produced by the Smith-Mann Syndicate of New York City, did have an all-Black cast of characters, quite a few of the strips were drawn by whites.

Don Powers

Don Powers

One Black creator who did get space was Courier regular Sam Milai. Milai’s work appeared in the paper for over three decades, starting in 1937. By 1950, when the color section began, Milai was already practically an institution at the paper. He was an ambidextrous cartoonist, quite at home with both bigfoot humor and straight illustration. Milai sought to show off his ability to do a realistic adventure strip for the color section, and came up with a sports feature titled Don Powers. The strip featured a clean-cut hero who is the Joe DiMaggio of baseball, Muhammad Ali of boxing, and Red Grange of football all rolled into one. He gets into all sorts of scrapes with gamblers, gangsters, rivals and so on, and triumphs mainly by being so pure and faultless.

Don Powers

Don Powers

Don Powers was one of the first Black multi-sport heroes to be featured in a comic strip. He competes in baseball, football, and becomes the heavyweight champion of the world.

The Don Powers Story:

  • Multi-sport themed adventure comic strip
  • The inspiring story of a clean-cut sportsman as he goes through his paces
  • All American guy who when dealing with unethical people and shady situations always does the right thing


Thanks to the University of Michigan Special Collections Library for photos of their collection of Courier color sections. They have the only known run of the early color sections from 1950-51, and were very gracious in sharing photos of the strips in their collection with me. Above are the 1st, 2nd and 4th strips in the Don Powers series.

* There was one other color comic strip, but it was just a single strip, not a section.

Source: Allan Holtz; Copyright  Allan Holtz 2013 The Strippers Guide


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