Cartoonist and commercial artist Thomas Wesley Floyd, Sr., was born on July 13, 1928,* in Gary, Indiana, to William Webster Floyd (1894-1936), a laborer in a steel mill, and Alice James Floyd (dates unknown), a housewife. Tom Floyd's parents came from the South, William from Wetumpka, Alabama, Alice from Mississippi. They were married on March 1, 1923, in Crown Point, Indiana.
Tom Floyd was their fourth child, but only three of those four showed up in the census of 1930, Tom, his older sister (Mary) Juanita, and his older brother James Frederick. All three were born in Indiana, and the family lived in Gary, the largest American city founded in the twentieth century and one known for its steel mills. In the census of 1940, Tom and his siblings were living in the household of their maternal grandparents, Walter and Ollie James. Walter James died in 1945.
Tom Floyd graduated from the University of Illinois in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in commercial art. He ran his own advertising business in Gary and worked as a designer of visual aids in the training department of Inland Steel Company, also in Gary. By 1971, he was vice president of W.V. Rouse & Associates of Chicago, a management consulting firm engaged in minority relations. Over the course of his career, Floyd also worked as an editorial cartoonist, single-panel cartoonist, comic strip artist, and comic book scriptwriter.
Race and minority relations were a continuing theme and interest in his life and work. He is best known for his cartoon collection Integration Is a Bitch! (1969), subtitled "An Assessment by a Black-White Collar Worker," but he also wrote and drew the cartoons for a second book, The Hook Book . . . The ABC's of Drug Abuse . . ., which he self-published in 1973 under his own firm, Tom Floyd Visuals of Gary, Indiana. It's a cute book on a serious and deadly subject. I stand with the late Mr. Floyd in his opposition to drugs and drug abuse, which has helped to ruin not just black people but all kinds of people in America and the world over. Integration Is Bitch! won the Book of the Year Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1971.
In 2012, comics historian Allan Holtz published a monumental work, American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. In the index of authors and cartoonists, there is a single-name credit, "Floyd," for a person who created three comic features for the Chicago Defender during the 1960s. I don't think there can be any doubt that the artist in question was Tom Floyd. The three features credited to "Floyd" are:
- At the Brink with J.J., which ran from December 11, 1965, to February 3, 1968 (It was renamed King Freedom. I don't have dates for that title.)
- Color Cuties, which ran from December 11, 1965, to March 30, 1968
- Integration Chuckles, which ran from December 11, 1965, to March 23, 1968
|At the Brink with J.J. by "Floyd" from the comics page of the Tri-State Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, July 9, 1966.|
|The cover of Blackman #1, a one-shot comic book written by Tom Floyd, penciled by Eric O'Kelley, and inked by Danny Loggins.|