|Born||May 19, 1933
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||August 25, 2003
|Tommy Traveler In the World of Negro History
To Be a Slave
The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo
|Awards||Caldecott Medal, 1972, 1975
Coretta Scott King Award, 1996
Tom Feelings (19 May 1933 – 25 August 2003) was a cartoonist, children's book illustrator, author, teacher, and activist. Through his works, he framed the African-American experience. His most famous book is The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo.
Feelings was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the School of the Visual Arts, and later lived in Ghana and Guyana. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
His earliest known (signed) comic book work may be the story "Scandal" in Key Publication's in Key Publication's third issue of Radiant Love (February 1953).
A skilled cartoonist, Feelings created the groundbreaking comic strip Tommy Traveler In the World of Negro History for the New York Age in 1958 after leaving the Air Force. Based on his own experience after discovering the adult section of the public library while researching a school project, Tommy Traveler is a black youth's dream adventures in American history while reading of notable black heroes. This material was released in book form in 1991.
In about 1960 Feelings illustrated the NAACP's four-color comic for voter registration, The Street Where You Live. Another early piece was for Look magazine, doing portraits of children in New Orleans in 1962.
Around 1968 he met Bertram Fitzgerald and he became one of the first contributors to Fitzgerald's new line of black history comics with the umbrella title Golden Legacy. According to Fitzgerald, at this time Feelings had done a previous biography of Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the American Revolution, which was adapted into the Golden Legacy series. (This may have been the 1968 Nobel Heritage publication, which shows some stylistic similarities to Feelings' art, but if so, it seems to have been inked by someone else.)
From the late 1960s through the 1990s, Feelings concentrated on children's books, illustrating other authors' works as well as writing his own. Notable titles included To Be a Slave (written by Julius Lester), Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book, Jambo Means Hello: A Swahili Alphabet Book, and The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo.
Feelings died in Mexico in 2003.
To Be a Slave was a 1969 Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, the School Library Journal's Best Book of the Year, and the Smithsonian Best Book of the Year. It was given a 1970 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
Feelings was a 1972 Caldecott Medal Honor recipient for his book Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book.
- X, Marvin. "On the Passing of an Artist of the People: Tom Feelings," ChickenBones: A Journal. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- "The Artist: Tom Feelings," Juneteenth. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- Christopher, Tom. "Bertram A Fitzgerald and the Golden Legacy Series of Black History Comics," (originally published in edited form in Comics Buyer's Guide), TomChristopher.com. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- "The Middle Passage: Drawings by Tom Feelings" – year 2000 exhibition of Feelings' work, McKissick Museum of the University of South Carolina
- Golden Legacy website
- Tom Feelings at Library of Congress Authorities, with 25 catalog records