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like so many of us, my story starts with being born. For me it was in
New York City, "The Big Apple!" I grew up in the Washington
Heights section of town where I stayed for most of my life. It was an
ol' fashioned neighborhood, where my friends and I played basketball,
stickball, softball, touch football, and even games that we had made
up, from morning til the street lights came on. These were some of my
best memories, and I still keep in touch with many of my old friends.
My folks sent me
to private school, so I went. Mt. Zion elementary in Harlem (known as
the School on the Hill) followed by St. Matthew's Lutheran School up
in Inwood. Then it was up to the Bronx for high school where I experienced
the culture shock of attending Fieldston high school, part of the Ethical
Culture Schools. I quickly went from schools that were 98% Black, to
my being one of nine out of a class of 105!
My folks never
told me that my going to college was a choice, so once I left Fieldston,
I attended the School Of Visual Arts where I got my B.F.A. degree in,
of all things, advertising. I actually majored in copywriting. Meaning
I learned to write ad "copy," not to be confused with getting
I worked in advertising
for several years writing newspaper ads and radio and TV commercials.
But in the 90s, the ad business went in the tank, so I decided to fall
back on my drawing skills. I've always loved to draw, and when I was
younger, I had dreams of becoming the next great artist of Spider-Man
or the Silver Surfer. Although that never happened, at least not yet,
I was fortunate to be able to work with cartoonist Barbara Slate on
comic books such as New Kids On The Block for Harvey Comics and Sweet 16 and Yuppies From Hell, two series that she developed
for Marvel Comics. Click the "My Portfolio" link on the sidebar to see samples.
Check out my interview section to hear me on radio, see me on TV or read about me in publications around the country.
have appeared in The Village Voice, Ebony magazine, The New York Daily
News, Street News, and Jewish Week (believe it or not), to name a few.
I've also drawn or written gags for a couple of syndicated features such
as Laff-A-Day, Tar Pit, Jr Whirl and Hints From Heloise.
May of 1987, I sold my first comic strip, The Outside View, to a couple of local newspapers in New York. The comic was sort of a rainbow
coalition of teenagers who were friends. In September of 1990, I gave
the strip a complete overhaul. I got rid of several of the characters,
made the two main boys brothers and added a mom and other family members
to the cast. I began self-syndicating this retooled strip (which I renamed Mama's Boyz) to The City Sun in New York and 10 other weekly papers
across the country like the Houston Sun, San Antonio Informer and the
February of 1995, Mama's Boyz was picked up by the King Features
Weekly Service--a collection of cartoons and columns that is distributed
to more than 1,500 newspapers around the world!
New York Daily News then used Mama's Boyz as part of their special Harlem
Week supplement in August of 1995. Several months later, Mama's Boyz returned
to The Daily News and now runs regularly in supplements for occasions
such as Black History Month, Kwanzaa, the West Indian-American Day Parade
and even their AIDS Awareness
Boyz: As American As Sweet Potato Pie! is a 96-page collection of my strips.
The foreword is by one of my favorite cartoonists, Lynn Johnston (For
better of For Worse).
to my book, I've also designed sweatshirts,
t-shirts and mugs,
Mama's Boyz book was named in "Great Book For African-American Children" (Penguin/Putnam 1999). In
addition to the write up in "Great Books," Mama's Boyz has also
been featured in "Chicken Soup For The African-American Soul," and "Chicken Soup For The African-American Woman's Soul," "The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing," "100 Years of American
Newspaper Comics" (Gramercy Books, 1996), and the college textbook "Facing
Difference; Race, Gender and Mass Media" (Pine Forge Press, 1997). Plus
I did a great segment in a video series called "Media Literacy and
Communications Skills," put out by Harcourt.
also done many interviews for publications like the Stamford Advocate,
Cartoonists Profiles, and the Onion to name a few. Several cable TV shows
in the New York/ Tri-State area have also been nice enough to feature
me as well as radio stations like WNYC, WBAI and WLIB radio in New York.
addition, the Mama's Boyz characters are the national spokescharacters
for the American Diabetes
Association's African-American Program and I've been presented with
two Outstanding Supporter Award for my work during National Diabetes month.
I've illustrated a line of African-American children's
board games, and greeting cards.
For eight years I worked at Sports
Illustrated For Kids, where I hosted a daily sports radio
show, did a guest spot on Radio KOL (the
section of AOL) and created a variety of games and cartoons. In the spring
of 2001, I was nominated by the National Cartoonists Society for an award
in their New Media Division for an animated piece that I did for the site. In Nov 2006, I started Mama's Boyz, Inc, now I work for myself! So buy a book, the kids need shoes :)
Well, for those of you who actually made it all the way
to the end, my hat is off to you.
Thanks for your time.
REALLY LONG BIO
JERRY CRAFT /
CARTOONIST / ILLUSTRATOR / WRITER
Jerry Craft is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip that has been distributed by King Features Syndicate since 1995. He is currently one of only a handful of syndicated African-American cartoonists in the country. His first book, “Mama's Boyz: As American as Sweet Potato Pie!” was named in “Great Books For African American Children.” Since then, the strip has been featured in "Chicken Soup For The African American Soul," "Chicken Soup For The African American Woman’s Soul," and "The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing" to name a few.
In 2007 he released his second collection of strips entitled “Mama’s Boyz: Home Schoolin’ – Because Learning Shouldn’t Stop at 3 O’Clock,” which was endorsed by both Teachers Against Prejudice and Comics in the Classroom. His third book “Mama’s Boyz: The Big Picture” will be released in February 2010.
In October of 2006, Jerry left his job in corporate America as the Editorial Director of the Sports Illustrated for Kids website where he was responsible producing much of the content for the popular kids site. This included interviewing athletes such as Derek Jeter, producing online games, hosting a streaming sports radio show and creating popular Flash animated cartoons such as “The Randy Moss Driving School.”
Now, working for his own company, Mama’s Boyz, Inc., Jerry gets to draw on his passion without leaving the comfort of his home. Since branching out on his own, he has done illustrations for Essence Magazine, book covers, and completed two children’s books; “Hillary’s Big Business Adventure,” which follows the plan of an industrious 10-year old girl and her friends and she tries to earn enough money to buy a new bike; and “Looking to the Clouds for Daddy” which is the true story of three young girls who are coping with the loss of their father.
In addition to making his readers laugh, Jerry has used Mama’s Boyz to help spread the word for several organizations such as helping to fight childhood obesity with the American Council For Fitness and Nutrition, raising awareness of organ and tissue donation for Donate Life America, and helping to increase support for the American Diabetes Association-- which earned him two Outstanding Supporter Awards. He has also won two African American Literary Awards Show Open Book Awards for “best comic strip” (2009 & 2004) and received nominations from the National Cartoonists Society as well as the Glyph awards. In June of 2007, he received a “Conversation Starter” award from the DC Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy, an honor granted to advocates who have helped change the conversation about teen pregnancy from one that places blame and shame on teenagers, to conversations about what it takes to motivate teens to want to avoid pregnancy in the first place.
Jerry is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts where he received his BFA degree in advertising. After working in the ad world for a dozen years as a copywriter, he got his first job as a cartoonist working with Barbara Slate on a variety of comic books and graphic novels for Marvel and Harvey Comics. This was followed by eight years at King Features Syndicate where he wrote sales brochures for some of the world’s most popular comic strips.
Jerry has appeared on WCBS’ Sunday Morning show with Mario Bosquez as well as cable news shows such as Cablevision News 12’s Our Lives with Gwen Edwards, and in publications like the Stamford Advocate, Norwalk Hour, Cartoonists Profiles magazine, and the Onion to name a few. Radio interviews include stations like WNYC, WBAI and WLIB radio in New York and a guest on the nationally-syndicated Wendy Williams Experience (and he survived)!!
In March of 2008, he appeared on panel of experts and comedy practitioners on “The Serious Stuff about Humor – What is It? Why is It?” at the Michigan Theater. The panel included noted political cartoonists, New Yorker cartoonists, writers from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as well as professors and psychologists.
When he is not at his drawing table, or spending time with his family, Jerry travels to schools, camps and libraries giving his popular cartooning workshops.