Orrin C. Evans, ‘the dean of black reporters’ was a pioneering journalist and comic book publisher. He has also been dubbed the ‘father of black comic books.’
Evans was born in 1902 in Steelton, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest son of George and Maude Wilson Evans. His father was a light-skinned man and often passed for white, however, his mother was darker-skinned and on different occasions pretended to be the maid when visitors came to the home.
By the eighth grade, Evans had already dropped out of school, he found work in journalism while still in his teens at the Philadelphia Tribune.
Evans later took a job at The Philadelphia Record where he was the only African American on staff during the early 1930s. While working here, his work focused on the segregation in the armed services during World War II. His literary work made him the target for death threats and discrimination. Despite the treatment, Evans continued to write for several other newspapers and magazines.
With a desire to reach a broader audience, Evans partnered with Harry T. Saylor, former Record editor to found the Philadelphia publishing company ‘All-Negro Comics, Inc. Evans served as president. During its time, there was only one known issue of the All-Negro Comics published. The book was a 48-page, standard-sized comic. All-Negro Comics # 1 carries a cover date of June 1947. No information about the press run or distribution remains. Evans later returned to the newspaper business. He served as editor o the Chester Times and Philadelphia Bulletin.
Evans was a long time supporter of the NAACP and the Urban League. He favored the works of WEB Du Bois as opposed to that of Marcus Garvey. It is said that Evans possessed a library that was the finest in the black community during his time.
In 1966, he won the Inter-Urban League of Pennsylvania Achievement Award. He covered more National Urban League and NAACP conventions than any other reporter and the month before his death.