Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Montague is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator whose work focuses on the intersection of self and social awareness. Liz is the creator of the popular Liz at Large cartoon series, which previously ran in Washington City Paper, and is passionate about documenting Social Change and Protest Movements.
If you’re new here, for the entire month of February, we’re highlighting living Black folks who are making history now. I know that we focus on the struggles and hard times of our Black ancestors, and I know that none of us would be here without their contributions to the world we live in, but this year, I’m focusing on those who are living and still doing the work.
If you didn’t know about Liz’s popular cartoon series, then you may have become aware of her in 2019 when she became the first Black female cartoonist to be featured in The New Yorker, at a whopping 22 years of age. This came on the heels of her writing to The New Yorker when she was a senior in college and asking why they weren’t publishing inclusive comics. They then asked for suggestions, and she presented herself. She documented a specific issue that so many of us feel deep in our bones.
I’ve retired ‘per my last email’ because I’m already wound too tight, and if someone comes back with a response I may lose all control. I’d get in a lot of trouble, but dang it if I haven’t wanted to send this very cartoon to folks to share far and wide.
If that particular awesome piece of work made it past your radar, then maybe the Google Doodle honoring Jackie Ormes on September 1 2020 may have crossed your feed. To see one Black female cartoonist honoring another was a cycle of feeling good that I didn’t know I needed. It’s also not lost on me that so many years later, we’re still breaking the first Black female ceilings in many spaces.
Finding Black women cartoonist has been more of a mission of mine since my youngest daughter has taken an EXTREME liking to doodle all over the place. At the moment, her focus are eyes and we find so many of them around the house. She’s even taken a couple of drawing courses at Outschool and always feels inspired after class. The joy on her face at doing something she loves makes me happy. Now, we have a LIVING example of a Black woman doing the very thing she loves. While I don’t know if Lil’ Miss’ cartoon style will lead to activism, and at this point that’s too much to put on her plate if she doesn’t have room.
Liz has completed a young adult graphic novel titled Maybe an Artist (available for pre-order now!) and is working on a picture book for Penguin Random House as well as a young adult series for Scholastic. She fundamentally believes in representation, accessible information, and drawing your feelings.
I know that Liz’s work is important because it provides another avenue for our little dreamers to choose. Through her work, important issues have been provided to people in a medium that most don’t think about. Cartoons. It’s a great way to convey information while also sharing a talent with others. Being the first Black woman to draw a cartoon for The New Yorker will forever cement Montague’s place in history.
I’m just glad that I get to witness it in real-time.