Friday, June 19, 2009

Buried Treasure: Lawrence & Longaron's Friday Foster


In 1968 writer Jim Lawrence, with three popular strips already listed on his resume, noticed that there were no black lead characters being published by any of the syndicates, so inspired by this fact and seeing the lovely Donyale Luna on a television program, he decided to create a feature about a black career woman in New York. The idea of Friday Foster was born. At that same time the Chicago Tribune-New York Syndicate was looking for a daring new strip, so from the popularity of black characters in there other one panel features, they welcomed Lawrence's fresh approach to create a first in comic-strip history. After two long years in development, the talented Jorge Longaron was chosen to do the artistic chores in his decorative European style for a Sunday and daily which debuted on January 18, 1970.

Starting out as an assistant to high-fashion photographer Shawn North, Friday after learning the ropes, eventually moved in front of the camera to become a world traveling supermodel leaving her troubled life in Harlem behind her. Early on, Lawrence's story lines had a harder edge showing the contrast of Friday's family with her street-wise brother trying to accept her new found success in the world of magazine publishing. But soon its episodes changed focus to showcase more soap-opera thrills of romance and travel for the gorgeous African-American. Hong Kong, Paris, London, and even Africa were all shown with equal flair from the detailed artistic masterpieces produced by Longaron from his home in Barcelona.


However, the numerous problems of a writer and artist being thousands of miles apart, coupled with the lengthy lead time to produced the strip, finally caught up with the creative team, and Gray Morrow was asked to step in to draw the feature in the early 1974. Unfortunately, from a steady decline in popularity the syndicate decided to end the feature in May of the same year, but not without riding on the coat tails of its prior fame, American International Pictures released its action-adventure film Friday Foster in 1975 staring Pam Grier in the title role.

No comments: