Chester Commodore

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Chester Commodore (August 22, 1914 – April 10, 2004) was an African-American cartoonist, both of political cartoons and comic strips. Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Commodore was always interested in drawing. His parents and sisters moved to Chicago in 1923, but Chester and his older brother stayed in Racine with his maternal grandmother in her boarding house until he moved to Chicago in 1927.

While still in high school, he tried to get a job with the Chicago Defender, one of the country's most notable African American newspapers, but its publisher, Robert Abbott, told him to finish his education first. Following school, he worked as a chauffeur and a mechanic, and got a job with the Pullman Company. He was always drawing, and posted his drawings on company bulletin boards. He was recommended for a staff position with the Minneapolis Star in 1938, but when he showed up for the interview, he was told that there was no such job.

Finally, in 1948 he went to work for the Defender, doing layout, but soon started drawing cartoons for the paper. His first strip, in 1948, was called The Sparks. He took over Jay Jackson's strip Bungleton Green in the early 1950s and contributed to the cartoon features The Ravings of Professor Doodle and So What?. When Jay Jackson died in 1954, Commodore took over his role drawing editorial cartoons for the paper. From 1974 he drew a weekly full-page caricature for the cover of the Defender's weekly arts supplement, Accent. The series lasted for more than five years.

Commodore and his wife retired to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1981, but from 1992 he resumed work for the Defender, contributing a weekly cartoon until his death in 2004.[1]


  1. ^ "Guide to the Chester Commodore Papers, 1914-2004". University of Chicago. Retrieved 27 June 2011.