Liz Montague is the First Black Female Cartoonist to Feature in the New Yorker

by Yah Yah
Elizabeth Montague

Liz Montague made history when she became the first Black female cartoonist ever published in the New Yorker.

Montague is one of many Black artists frustrated by mainstream media’s lack of diversity, but rather than be defeated, she wrote to the publication and expressed her discontent, unwilling for the white man’s perspective to continue to be the “universal perspective” as she so accurately puts it.

Montague is the creator of the Liz At Large and the Cyber Black Girl series. Her drawings consist of women and girls like her who look like us all: brown skin, curly hair—beautifully African features.

“In the cartoon world, the white male perspective is the universal perspective, and everyone else is niche,” Montague said.

And the magazine agreed.

“Liz wrote a letter to the magazine, expressing frustration with the limited diversity among the cartoonists, which was forwarded to me,” says Emma Allen, The New Yorker’s cartoon editor told The Washington City Paper, where her art is featured weekly.

“I responded directly that she’d wonderfully articulated frustrations I had as well, and explained that I viewed it as an imperative, and a big part of my role, to try to fix existing inequities, as I felt there was no dearth of diverse talent making graphic and comic art.”

But despite the familiarity of her mission and of her message, Montague wants you to know that she is not speaking for every Black or Brown woman.

“I try really hard just to stick to my perspective as an individual just because it’s such a broad field of, like, Black people as a whole, women as a whole,” Montague said. “I don’t want to pretend like I can represent every Black person or every woman on the planet because everyone’s different.”

Nevertheless, the telling of Black stories in all mediums is crucial, and this digital storyteller is doing her part.

“I think that it’s very rare for Black people, or especially people of color in general, to get to tell their stories, and I think that there needs to be more of that,” Montague explained to ABC News, who recently spotlighted her artwork. “I think that hopefully the industry is becoming more welcoming of that. […] I feel like I’m not shy about tackling some of the current events happening right now,” Montague continued. “I feel especially really passionate about climate change in particular.”

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