Friday Foster: The Sunday Strips
I really love this job. I get to check out books I would never have otherwise seen and learn about little-known but impressive work. Take, for example, Friday Foster: The Sunday Strips, a reprint collection due from Ablaze next month.
Friday Foster was a comic strip created and written by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Jorge (aka Jordi) Longarón. It was explicitly brought about to address the lack of Black comic leads in syndicated comics and ran from 1970-1974. Friday, the title character, is an aspiring fashion photographer, and the strip inspired a 1975 movie starring Pam Grier.
After avoiding being used as a weapon to break up a high-fashion couple, Friday winds up helping a rock star who’s been reported dead in order to hide from his fans. She also rescues a rare bird, becomes a model, helps solve a blackmail case, deals with picketers, explores modern romance, and has many more adventures.
Since these are just the Sunday strips, there are occasional jumps in story points — early on, Friday’s white boss wanders into a “gang rumble” in Harlem, and she rescues him, but it’s not explained how, as that happened during the weekly run. It’s all gorgeous, though, full of detail and nicely dense to read week-to-week. The art is amazing in establishing these characters, and reading it today really puts you back in those swinging 70s (and reminds you how much content you could get into a Sunday strip when space was available).
This package is well-put-together to explain the comic to those not previously aware. There’s a Foreword by the writer’s son, which opens with some background on him both as a creator and a person. The introduction, by editor Christopher Marlon, discusses how the book came about. There are separate profiles of the two creators and an article about restoration of the comics, as well as images of previously unseen art for the strip and ads promoting it. Additional articles cover interviews with the writer’s children, reprints of fan mail, and background on the single Friday Foster comic book, as well as the novels Lawrence wrote about a similar character. There are interviews with Pam Grier and the director of the movie, as well as reviews and ad images.
This collection has just about everything I’d want from a book about a little-known strip that deserves more attention. It’s a beautifully comprehensive package and a compelling soap opera to read. I thought it was fantastic! (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)