Jerry Craft – Wikipedia

American cartoonist and illustrator

Jerry Craft (born January 22, 1963)[1] is an American cartoonist and children’s book illustrator best known for his syndicated newspaper comic strip Mama’s Boyz and his graphic novel New Kid. Craft is one of only a handful of syndicated African American cartoonists in the US.

Early life and education[edit]

Craft grew up in Washington Heights and attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1984 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts.[2]

Craft worked for twelve years as a copywriter for various advertising agencies, during which time he also got his first comics work on projects for Marvel Comics and Harvey Comics. Moving on to King Features Syndicate, Craft spent eight years writing sales brochures. This connection with King Features led to the syndication of Craft’s Mama’s Boyz beginning in 1995.[3]

Craft later worked as editorial director of the Sports Illustrated for Kids website where he was nominated for a New Media Award by the National Cartoonists Society for his series of popular Flash cartoons, before leaving that job in October 2006 to become a full-time cartoonist.[4]

Craft performs regular cartooning workshops at schools, camps, and libraries.[5]

On January 27, 2020, his graphic novel, New Kid, was awarded the Newbery Medal, becoming the first graphic novel to receive this honor.[6]New Kid also won the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize.[7]

Mama’s Boyz[edit]

Mama’s Boyz follows the lives of African American single mother Pauline Porter and her two teenage sons Tyrell and Yusuf. Other characters include Pauline’s brother Greg and their parents.

Mama’s Boyz is the outgrowth of a prior strip called The Outside View, which Craft first self-syndicated in 1987. In 1990, he adapted some elements of The Outside View to create Mama’s Boyz, which he self-syndicated to New York’s The City Sun and eventually a number of other weekly papers across the country. In 1995, Mama’s Boyz was picked up for weekly syndication by King Features.[1]

Mama’s Boyz has been praised in Great Books for African American Children, and featured in Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comedy Writing. The Mama’s Boyz characters also act as official “spokescharacters” of the American Diabetes Association’s African-American Program.

New Kid[edit]

Published in 2019, New Kid tells the story of Jordan Banks, an African-American seventh grader who joins a new predominantly white, affluent, private school.[8] The book is a partially autobiographical coming of age novel.[9] As one of the few African-American students at his school, Jordan has to face daily microagressions, illustrated in the book.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Craft has two sons, Jaylen and Aren, who co-wrote the book The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention! with their father.[11][12] Craft lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.[12]


  • (written with Jaylen Craft & Aren Craft) The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention! (Mama’s Boyz, Inc., 2014)
  • New Kid (Quill Tree Books, 2019)
  • Class Act (Quill Tree Books, 2020)

Mama’s Boyz collections[edit]

  • As American as Sweet Potato Pie! (American Publishing Company, 1997)
  • Home Schoolin’ – Because Learning Shouldn’t Stop at 3 O’Clock (Mama’s Boyz, Inc., 2007) — endorsed by both Teachers Against Prejudice and Comics in the Classroom
  • The Big Picture: What you Need to Succeed! (Mama’s Boyz, Inc., 2010)[15]

As illustrator[edit]

  • (with writer Lori Nelson) Hillary’s Big Business Adventure (Nelson Publishing, 2008)
  • (with writer Margo Candelario) Looking to the Clouds for Daddy (Karen Hunter Media, 2009)
  • (with writer David Miller) Khalil’s Way (Urban Leadership Institute, 2012)


  1. ^ a b Craft entry, Lambiek’s Comiclopedia. Accessed Jan. 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Herbowy, Greg and Michelle Mackie, “Shelf Liners,” Visual Arts Journal: School of Visual Arts Magazine (Fall 2017).
  3. ^ “Mama’s Boyz” (interview), News 8 WTNH website (Feb. 15, 2010).
  4. ^ “Children Chatting with Jerry Craft”. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  5. ^ “Jerry Craft”. HarperCollins Speakers Bureau. HarperCollins. Retrieved 19 January 2022. Craft inspires audiences of all ages with his interactive and dynamic presentations and drawing demonstrations.
  6. ^ de León, Concepción. “Graphic Novel Wins Newbery Medal for the First Time”. The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  7. ^ Reviews, Kirkus (2017-11-07). “The Winners Of The 2017 Kirkus Prize”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  8. ^ Jamieson, Victoria (8 March 2019). “Graphic Novels That Will Keep Kids Reading”. The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  9. ^ Emanuele Berry (7 January 2022). “Talking While Black”. This American Life (Podcast). This American Life. Event occurs at 34:50. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  10. ^ Drew, Emma (13 March 2020). ‘New Kid,’ By SVA alumnus Jerry Craft, Is The First Graphic Novel To Win The Newbery Medal”. School of Visual Arts (SVA). Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  11. ^ “Book Lovers Corner: “The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!” News 8 WNTH website (Nov. 7, 2013).
  12. ^ a b Edwards, Gwen. “Our Lives 9/28,” News 12 Connecticut website (Sept. 27, 2013).
  13. ^ MacDonald, Heidi. “2013 Glyph Comics Awards Winners announced,” The Beat (May 22, 2013).
  14. ^ “Children Chatting with Jerry Craft”. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  15. ^ “Cartoonist Jerry Craft Publishes New Book,” King Features website (Feb. 24, 2010).

External links[edit]