Tag Archives: Propaganda

Dog Fights and Ace Pilots

© 2017 Kayla McKenzie, Ryerson University

Dog Fights and Ace Pilots: Dime Comics No. 17

Introduction

Tricolour; red, yellow, and blue. Comic book cover.
Dingle, Adrian (a). Dime Comics, No. 17, October 1944.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

The Second World War was a taxing period for both adults and children. Many sacrifices were made, included halting the import of none essential goods. The introduction of the War Exchange Conservation Act of December 1940 brought about such reforms. Children were hit quite hard, as they lost their Comic book heroes (Bell 30). It was a loss not only of a source of entertainment but a loss of their comic book friends.  Canadian children also had to cope with the harsher realities of wartime. Prime among this was watching their family members go to war, with the possibility of not returning. But in true Canadian spirit, Canadian comic book publishers formed. These companies were; Maple Leaf Publishing, Educational Projects, Anglo America, and Bell Features (Pascoe). Bell Features introduced a great line up of all Canadian heroes that represented the ideologies of Canadian values and appearances. Their heroes included the likes of Rex Baxter, Nitro, and Johnny Canuck.

Rex Baxter, Nitro, Johnny Canuck and other various heroic figures featured, highlighted Canadian values and what a good Canadian looked like during that time. This was important as it provided a static visual representation of “nation and nationalism” in a time of great uncertainty and self-discovery for Canada (Edwardson 185). Though through retrospect, it is unfortunate that the representations of Canadian identity had a contingency of race.  These iconic characters are among the roster of heroes that became known as “The Canadian Whites” a uniquely Canadian contribution to The Golden Age of Comics. The reign of The Canadian Whites on Canadian newsstands was regrettably very brief, as publishers ran into many problems after the war. In the period of 1945-1947, The Canadian Whites disappeared (Bell 49). Though the Canadian heroes were not around for a long time, they were a critical contribution to the morale of Canadian youth and the formation of Canadian identity for children during the war.

Relatively Realistic Super Heroes

The Canadian Whites are considerably different from current superheroes such as those from the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. For the most part, they lack “super powers” though many showed great physical strength (Pascoe).  With the notable exceptions such as Adrian Dingle’s “Nelvana of the Northern Lights” and Vernon Miller’s “The Iron Man” few of the Canadian Whites were endowed with supernatural powers such as flight (Bell 43). In the world of comics, they were realistic superheroes, for the harsh realities of wartime.

In Dime Comics No. 17 (October 1944) Adrian Dingle’s story “Pepper Pot Captures a Spy”

Dingle, Adrian (w, a) “Pepper Pot Captures a Spy” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp. 24-28.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

clearly highlights the value of physical strength and raw patriotism to the Canadian superheroes. During a session of brutal one on one physical combat with a Nazi spy, Pepper Pot wins. He was equipped with only his exceptional strength and love of Canada. The comic states, “It was because he [en]visioned his beloved land of the Maple Leaf in the hands of the Nazis and all the horror which would subsequently follow that Pepper Pot went wild! Quick as lightning his legs came up and wrapped themselves in a scissor grip” (Dingle 28). Such imagery was essential for imparting to Canadian youth that all they needed was strength and a great love of Canada to serve their country.

 

 

Attracting Canadian Children in the 1940’s to the Airforce

In Dime Comics No. 17, there is an inescapable presence of airplanes. Three separate adventures are set almost entirely in the air, with many others featuring airplanes to various degrees. By order of appearance, the first story is “Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret”. Rex Baxter and Gail speed through the sky in a stolen bomber to search for their friend Zoltan. The second story is “Scotty Macdonald”. Scotty and his pals O’Hara, and Tana are fleeing after setting a Japanese aerodrome on fire. The third story is “The Flying Fool”. Frank Kent channels his rage over the loss of his brother into an unauthorized vengeance mission.

Fictional WWI Dogfight
Legault, E.t. (w, a) “The Flying Fool.” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp.36-39. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

Comics are categorized as children’s literature. The target audience is children, though “child” is a broad category as it spans from children who have just learned to read, all the way to young adults. The featuring of combat pilots in the comics may be viewed as a tool for recruitment. E.T. Legault’s “The Flying Fool”, is a prime example. Kent’s successful vengeance mission could easily inspire young Canadians. It is presented as “…the diary of Frank Kent, Dare-Devil Pilot Canadian Ace of the Skies” (Legault 36). The presentation of this story as a found journal adds an extra layer of realism.

The loss of a brother is a story line that would have hit home with many of the story’s readers, who have family members that are serving or who were lost in service to their country.

to join the in a combative manner or actively contribute to the war effort in other ways. Kent is the kind of hero that any able-bodied boy could realistically become. That is if they have the combination of the right skills, training, and equipment. If Kent’s story did not encourage young adults to join the war effort, it was at least able to offer them solace in a time of great loss.

Adrian Dingle’s “Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret” shows the theme of rescue. Soldiers did not only die in the war, but they faced the threat of becoming prisoners of war. Which was very dangerous, as it could lead to being tortured for Allies secrets or death. If the torture rendered results, it could put fellow servicemen in grave danger. Zoltan’s anguish is clearly depicted as he is shown collapsed on the floor with a bayonet pointed at him. The closure in the panel states “Zoltan’s thought-train with rex is broken, his morale is shattered! As if to mercifully screen him from the grim thoughts of his impending death, the Xalantan’s mind goes blank and he falls senseless to the floor of his cell.” (Dingle 4). This story acts to show children that there is hope of rescue for servicemen that have been captured by the enemy.

Al Cooper’s “Scotty Macdonald” repeats the theme of recusing with the addition of escape. Macdonald and his friend not only successfully steal a plane from a Japanese military aerodrome, but he manages to gun down the Japanese pilot that is following them. Macdonald is so confident that he utters lines such as “It’s a cinch they won’t attack us – we could fly circles around them” (Cooper 19) and “Righto! We’ll teach the beggars we’re not in the mood to play follow the leader”(Cooper 20). Macdonald’s success brings a glory to being aa pilots and will recruit children to the war effort.

“Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret” and “Scotty Macdonald” both feature women. In “Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret” Gail proves herself to be a capable pilot when Rex tells her to take over flying so he could use the “thought-machine” on board to try and contact Zoltan (Dingle 2). All goes well for Gail until the engines fail, and the plane crashes.  Gail’s piloting contributes to the mission, as Rex would not have been able to fly the plane and locate Zoltan with the thought-machine by himself. In “Scotty Macdonald” Tana does not fly the plane, but she provides an active lookout. Though she is rather passive in this issue’s story, her presence is still important. Gail and Tana convey to Canadian youth that women are capable of stepping into important roles abroad and at home.

Cooper, Al (w, a) “Scotty Macdonald” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp. 18-23.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Cooper, Al (w, a) “Scotty Macdonald” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp. 18-23.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Success of Real Canadian Pilots

In all the three adventures that are set almost entirely in the air, the pilots are successful on their missions or survive a crash landing only to continue their mission in the next issue. The outlandish success of the Bell Features Universe’s pilots initially seems to be merely a product of the hyper reality of the Comic book genre. However, there was a well-documented history of the accomplishments of Canadian pilots in the First World War. During the First World War, Canadian servicemen served as members of the British forces (English 5). Of the British Empire’s ten best pilots, five of them were from Canada (McCaffery 9).  Of the Canadian pilots who fought in the First World War, Billy Bishop of Perry Sound Ontario was the most famous. (McCaffery 93). Bishop mastered the “deflection shot” which made up for his average pilot skills, his expert marksmanship was formed from during his childhood hunting in the woods (Pigott 48). This is an example of how the Canadian Landscape formed its heroes.

During World War Two, Canada was an independent country. This was crucial to the formation of Canadian identity, as the remarkable achievements of Canadian fighter pilots solely belong to Canada. Though Canada was still associated with Britain, who was also a member of the Allies during the war. It was a time for Canadian pilots to be known solely as Canadian pilots.  This meant that there was an emergence of Canadian “Ace pilots”.  The status of Ace pilot is a prestigious honor bestowed on only the most accomplished pilots. To gain such a prestigious statues pilots must have a minimum of five recorded aerial victories. (Tennyson 223)

Buck Mcnair was a was a top scoring Canadian pilot in the second world war. There are two notable instances that he survived extreme conditions. He survived the English channels frigid waters for several hours only to quickly returning to combat. When shot down a second time, he suffered severe burns and blurred vision this too did not prevent him from returning to combat (McCaffery 173).  His tenacious courage makes the out allows the triumphs of the comic books superheroes plausible.

Russel Bannock was one of the most successful pilots that fought for the allies in the Second World War. Though as he was a night pilot, his kills directly saved lives as he shot down German bomber planes. In his field, he was without equal (Pigott 19). Pigott notes that from a time he flew a “Mosquitoes” aircraft model as an inimitable detail, as it was particularly fast and maneuverable aircraft (19). This is important to note as in Dime Comics No. 16 Scotty Macdonald is noted to fly that same plane model (Al Cooper 42. This again reinforces the similarities of the real Canadian pilots and their superhero counterparts.

Visual Saturation of the War Effort

If the cap fits, wear it!
National Film Board of Canada
Ephemera, 1940, English
Public Domain
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-IFTHECAPFITS&R=DC-IFTHECAPFITS
Roll ’em out!
Canada. Director of Aircraft Production
Public Domain
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-ROLLEMOUT&R=DC-ROLLEMOUT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Canadian Whites comic may have been children’s most intimate exposure to Wartime propaganda. As the act of reading is a solitary activity, allowing the comics to form a private connection with children. But there were many posters that were viewed publicly for group consumption. The wartime posters further enforced the same notions. The  “If the Cap Fits Wear It!” and the “Roll ‘em Out” posters present children with more practical but none the less indispensable contributes to the war effort. The Caps at the center of the poster are; a women’s head scarf, a farmer’s hat, and conductors hat. This indicates that the work of Canadians on the home front was vital to supporting those abroad. The second poster echoes this sentiment as it does not feature fighter pilots, but the workers that build the air crafts

Conclusion

The Canadian Whites filled the emptiness left in the heart of Canadian children during the war. They gave Canadian children a strong sense of Canadian identity and a mass culture to unity around, in time that Canada was emerging as an independent country on the global stage of the Second World War. However, it was imperfect in that it was not an inclusive identity for all Canadians. Race and gender were not equally included the adventures of the Canadian Whites. Yet it was a means of support, inspire, and entertainment for most Canadian Youth of the Second World War.

 

 

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.


 

Works Cited

 

Cooper, Al (w, a) “Scotty Macdonald” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp. 18-23. Bell                      Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

 

Bell, John. Invaders from the North, edited by John Bell, Dundurn, 2006. ProQuest Ebook            Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=611683.

 

Dingle, Adrian (w, a) “Pepper Pot Captures a Spy” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp.         24-28. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

 

—.  “Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret.” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp. 1-7. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

 

Edwardson, Ryan. “The Many Lives of Captain Canuck: Nationalism, Culture, and the        Creation of a Canadian Comic Book Superhero.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 37,   no. 2, 2003, pp. 184-201, doi:10.1111/1540-5931.00063.

 

English, Allan Douglas. Cream of the Crop, MQUP, 1996. ProQuest Ebook Central,         http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=3331472.

Legault, E.t. (w, a) “The Flying Fool.” Dime Comics, no. 17, October, 1944, pp.36-39. Bell Features  Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166579.pdf

 

McCaffery, Dan. Air Aces: The Lives and Times of Twelve Canadian Fighter Pilots. Lorimer, 1990. Scholars Portal Books,            http://books1.scholarsportal.info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/viewdoc.html?id=37765.

 

Pascoe, Will. Lost Heroes., 28 February 2014. McNabb Connolly, film.            www.mcnabbconnolly.ca.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/RyersonGeneralListing/titles/LHI-LH.

 

Pigott, Peter. Flying Canucks, edited by Peter Pigott, Dundurn, 2012. Ebook ,          https://toronto.overdrive.com/media/1184391

 

Tennyson, Brian Douglas. Canada’s Great War, 1914-1918, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers,     2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,             http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=1874264.

Themes of the Representation of Violence and War through Canadian Identity and the Portrayal of the Axis Powers in Dime Comics Issue No. 22

©Copyright 2017 Abigail Tamayo, Ryerson University.

Introduction

Published by Bell Features, Dime Comics’ 22nd issue of the Canadian Whites comic books was released in April of 1945. It is one of twenty-nine published comic books issued by Dime Comics from 1942 to 1946 during and after World War Two.

Dingle, Adrian (a). Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features: Cover, Bell Features collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Dingle, Adrian (a). Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features: Cover, Bell Features collection, Library and Archives Canada.

From front to cover, the comic issue contains several action, adventure and science themed stories and includes two activity pages. The stories included in the comic issue are as follows: “Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret” written and illustrated by Adrian Dingle, “Chick ‘n’ Fuzz” written and illustrated by Bill Thomas, “Oolay the Eskimo” story by Cal, “Nitro” written and illustrated by Jerry Lazare, “Professor Punk” written and illustrated by Harry Brunt, “Johnny Canuck” written and illustrated by Leo Bachle, “Let’s go back and face the draft, he says there’s a war on here too!” story by Mickey Owens, “The Mongoose” written and illustrated by Bill Thomas, “Firebug’s Fiasco” written and illustrate by Jerry Lazare, “Drummy Young” written and illustrated by Jerry Lazare, “Monster of the Deep” written and illustrated by Fred Kelly, and “Murder Star” written and illustrated by Tedd Steele. Although the comic was released around the end of the war, there were still strong instances of national identity presented throughout the issue which battled the depicted characterization of the axis powers. Within the writers and artists’ representation of violence and war, the differences between Canadian identity and that of the Axis Powers were distinct. Readers can easily distinguish the ethnicity and political positions of certain characters due to the stereotypes we are aware of now, implanted within their words and appearances.

Bell features publishing originated due to the government’s program of “Eliminating non-essentials” (“We Must Do Without”), and their existence contributed to the Canadian Whites’ influence in popular culture during World War Two. Dime Comic’s issue no. 22 manifested Canadian ideologies in its production, becoming a form of Canadian propaganda by perpetuating Canadian identity in the comic through its superheroes and the depiction of an anti-axis powers political view through its Japanese and Nazi-German characters.

Representation of the Axis Powers

The comic issue incorporates various elements of representation when conveying the diverse characters that appear in its stories. A crucial reoccurring essence of representation that is worth observing is how the axis powers are represented in the comic issue. The way in which the Axis Powers are represented provided readers in the 1930s with a manufactured vision of who the enemy was, and when compared to their pre-conceived notion towards Canadian identity it benefited an uplifting movement that encouraged national pride and Canadian nationality as “the good guys”.

Characters in this issue ranged from being Canadian, American, Japanese, and Nazi-German. The characterization of all characters in the issue were done by Canadian writers and artists. The writers and artists of this issue had the tendency to represent “the other” in World War Two, referring specifically to the Japanese and Nazi-German characters in the issue, through the racialization of their Japanese and Nazi-German characters.

In this comic issue, Nazi-Germans appear in the comic issue as unintelligent individuals, at least in comparison to the Canadian characters that appear alongside them. Emphasizing on how ludicrous and ill-advised the Nazi-Germans are in the stories they appear in, provides the reader with a tone-deaf representation of actual Nazi-Germans during World War Two.

 

Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret

Written and illustrated by Adrian Dingle, “Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret” is the first comic that appears in the issue. The story features the characters Rex Baxter and Gail Abbot who rescue Zoltan from a Japanese prison camp from the south pacific. The panels on the pages represent various moments in time, first placing the reader in a radio station (Dingle 1-2), then immediately into the action; Rex Baxter running towards a plane and in the sky (3-5), and communication between Americans, Canadians, and Rex Baxter. (6-7)

Within the language of the story, Dingle includes several World War Two slang terms. To refer to a Japanese person; anything Japanese Dingle shortens the word to simply ‘Jap’, however Dingle also makes use of a more offensive term in synonymous to a Japanese person: ‘Nip’ which originates in the 1940s as an abbreviated form of the term ‘Nipponese’. (“Nip3”) Tension had risen in the beginning of 1942 between Canadians and the Japanese since the attacks on Pearl Harbour on December 7th, 1941, resulting in a sense of distrust of Japanese-Canadians which lead to the imprisonment of Japanese-Canadians in internment camps. (Marsh) They remained detained in these camps, located along the pacific coast, for the duration of the second world war until the war ended in 1945. (Marsh)

Dingle, Adrian. Panel from"Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta's Secret." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Dingle, Adrian. Panel from”Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Another offensive term referencing the Japanese is the word ‘squints’, which is a racial reference to the physical features of a Japanese Person.

Dingle, Adrian. Panel from"Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta's Secret." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Dingle, Adrian. Panel from”Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Chik ‘N’ Fuzz

Written and illustrated by Bill Thomas, “Chik ‘N’ Fuzz” follows two main characters Chik and Fuzz (notably a racist story due to Thomas’ depiction of Caucasian and African Americans through the two main characters) who are on their way to England when they intercept a Nazi-German submarine and take the opportunity to wreak havoc from within enemy lines. The Nazi-German characters in this story are easy to point out due to Thomas’ use of the characters’ speech bubbles and appearance to convey his Nazi-German representation.

Thomas, Bill. Panel from"Chik 'N' Fuzz." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Thomas, Bill. Panel from”Chik ‘N’ Fuzz.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Note the emblematic Swastika of the German Nazi party on bands around the arms of the German soldiers. (Jeff) The characters also speak in a thick German accent which Thomas depicts through the intonation of the words he writes in the speech bubbles for the Nazi-German characters. In one frame, the Nazi-German characters appear to “Heil Hitler”.

Although Thomas’ representations of Nazi-Germans are watered-downed versions of real Nazi-German’s during World War Two, the representation provides readers with a basic concept of identifying Nazi-Germans.

Thomas, Bill. Panel from"Chik 'N' Fuzz." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Thomas, Bill. Panel from”Chik ‘N’ Fuzz.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Thomas, Bill. Panel from"Chik 'N' Fuzz." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Thomas, Bill. Panel from”Chik ‘N’ Fuzz.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Johnny Canuck

In his comic, Leo Bachle’s character Johnny Canuck is captured and held captive by Japanese soldiers and is tortured for information. Bachle’s depiction of the Japanese soldiers in the comic reveal a racialized appearance and speech, apparent in how he drew the soldiers and the diction he used in their speech bubbles.

Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Maximum Advantage in pictures: propaganda as Art and History. From a Poster. This is the Enemy. Public Domain.
Maximum Advantage in pictures: propaganda as Art and History. From a Poster. This is the Enemy. Public Domain.

The dehumanization of the axis powers was not uncommon during the second world war, due to the increasing amount of propaganda posters made by the allies. The appearances of the Japanese were often caricaturized as ghastly monster-like individuals, inflicting malice to instill fear in the audiences the posters were propagandized towards. One American anti-Japanese propaganda poster called “This is the Enemy” shows a Japanese soldier holding a dagger in one hand with sharp-nails on the other, appearing to claw and reach for the woman who is running away in terror.

The Japanese soldier on the poster bears the Japanese Rising Sun Flag on his hat which was Japan’s flag during the late 19th and early 20th centuries but has since then changed due to its connection to the military significance during World War Two, wherein it acted as Japan’s insignia as an allied force of the Nazi-Germans who they shared similar ideologies with. (Kim) The racialization of Japanese persons in propaganda posters utilizes racial stereotypes to distinguish ‘the other’ and inflict fear of ‘the enemy’. This form of propaganda permeates Bachle’s comic, evident in the portrayal of the Japanese characters who are depicted as ruthless, remorseless and violent individuals.

 

National Identity

Two of the comics in this issue, “Nitro”, and “Johnny Canuck”, feature superheroes highly popularized during World War Two, Nitro and Johnny Canuck respectively, who Guardians of the North listed as members of a group of comic superheroes purposed to personify the Canadian spirit embedded within Canadian identity. Unlike the typical superhero who is characterized to have supernatural abilities, Nitro and Johnny Canuck are uncharacteristically portrayed to use more mundane abilities in battles. Nevertheless, the two share the ability of superhuman strength though in their comics “Nitro” and “Johnny Canuck” have them seen using intellectual based abilities, natural of a regular person alongside their superhuman ability. In Nitro and Johnny Canuck alone, it is evident there is a plethora of representation of Canadian identity which is primarily projected through the superhero’s actions, thoughts and words, and even so far as the way they are drawn by their artist.

Nitro
Lazare, Jerry. Panel from"Nitro." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Lazare, Jerry. Panel from”Nitro.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

In Jerry Lazare’s “Nitro”, Nitro appears to the reader firsthand as Terry Allen, a regular person who at the crime scene assesses the situation to an officer nearby, revealing his sharp attention to detail when pointing out a piece of evidence went amiss. He then switches into his alias, Nitro, to confront the perpetrator of the crime. He bears a skin-tight costume with the letter “N” on his chest, boots and gloves, and shorts held up with a belt that also has the letter “N” on its buckle.

 

 

Lazare, Jerry. Panel from"Nitro." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Lazare, Jerry. Panel from”Nitro.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Lazare, Jerry. Panel from"Nitro." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Lazare, Jerry. Panel from”Nitro.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Nitro is not only strong physically but mentally too. His enemy (“Curly” Edwards) admits inevitable defeat because Nitro is ‘To wise for his own good.’

In the face of danger Nitro defeats his enemy, showcasing his ability to use his quick wit and intelligence alongside his fighting skills. His contribution to Canadian identity surfaces in his near ‘normality’, emphasizing the concept that having superhuman abilities is not a necessary quality for a person who wants to help in the instance of a crime, rather instead if a person is willing to help and makes the effort of helping someone of authority then that person has done their part. It is a subliminal message of Canadian Nationalism that permeates a lot of the superhero stories produced by Dime Comics. The comic mirrors the implications of Canadian propaganda released during World War Two which focused on a collective group coming together for the greater good- wherein using a nation’s shared strength, intelligence, and the force in unity– Canadians contribute to the war time effort. On the Homefront, Canadians were encouraged to support the Canadian military service men through thriftiness, conservation of food and duel, recycling and reuse of resources, and loans (victory bonds) which would finance the war. (“War and Military”)

Library and Archives Canada. From a Poster. The Men Are Ready...Only You Can Give Them Wings :  Canada's war effort and production sensitive campaign. Public Domain.
Library and Archives Canada. From a Poster. The Men Are Ready…Only You Can Give Them Wings :  Canada’s war effort and production sensitive campaign. Public Domain.
Library and Archives Canada. From a Poster. If You Don't Need it... Don't Buy it. Public Domain.
Library and Archives Canada. From a Poster. If You Don’t Need it… Don’t Buy it. Public Domain.
Canadian War Museum. From a Poster. Save Waste Bones -They Make Glue For Aircraft .. And Are Used For Explosives... Public Domain.
Canadian War Museum. From a Poster. Save Waste Bones -They Make Glue For Aircraft .. And Are Used For Explosives… Public Domain.
Canadian War Museum. From a poster. Invest and Protect. Help Finish the Job. Public Domain.
Canadian War Museum. From a poster. Invest and Protect. Help Finish the Job. Public Domain.
Johnny Canuck
Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Guardians of the North refers to Johnny Canuck as “Canada’s superhero.” Johnny Canuck was created by Leo Bachle and was used as a figure of response to the outside threats during World War Two. (Reynes-Chikuma et. al.) Johnny Canuck, also often referred to as Captain Canuck, helped legitimized a pre-conceived consciousness of Canadian identity, reinforcing the perception as Canada as a “peaceable kingdom.” (Edwardson 184) In his article, Ryan Edwardson explains the use of comic books which as a visual medium, encourages the imagination to be used, thus resulting in a conscious construction of the nation and national identity. (185) In issue no. 22, Johnny Canuck is placed under captivity by Japanese soldiers and is tortured for information, but later is thrown into a jail cell where he meets an elderly man who validates his persona as Captain Canuck while also validating the image of Canadian identity.

Captain Canuck became a part of Canadian consumer culture (195), especially as he mirrored Canadian nationalistic values that were propagandized towards Canadians on the Homefront in posters– moralism, natural strength, and self-sacrificing persona to name a few. (186) One artist pointed out the success of using propaganda posters as a tool to send messages, noting the artwork’s ability of permeating a message in an instant and aesthetically pleasing manner, alongside the tendency for posters to be internalized rather than analyzed, made them effective. (“Canadian WWII Propaganda posters”) In issue no. 22, Johnny Canuck exhibits the traits of a selfless hero whose perseverance goes unnoticed.

Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Johnny Canuck’s strength is tested here, as he blames his lack of food and water on his being weaker than usual. The elderly man who is with him encourages him to drink the water and eat the bread he has hidden under his bed to help him regain his strength.

Bachle, Leo. Panel from"Johnny Canuck." Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Bachle, Leo. Panel from”Johnny Canuck.” Dime Comics. No. 22, April 1945, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Mental_Floss. From a poster. We Are Saving You, You Save Food. Public Domain.
Mental_Floss. From a poster. We Are Saving You, You Save Food. Public Domain.

When creating most of the propaganda posters made during World War Two, government officials consulted old posters from the first world war and other resources at the Public Archives. (“War and Military”) Johnny Canucks’ need to be fed to maintain his strength mirrors the message of a Canadian propaganda poster that was made during World War One, tiled “We Are Saving You, You Save Food” which also includes the following statement: “Well fed Soldiers Will Win the War”

 


Bibliography

Bachle, Leo (w, a). “Johnny Canuck”. Dime Comics, no. 22, April, 1945, pp. 23-28. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166584.pdf

“Canadian WWII Propaganda Posters.” Air Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.airmuseum.ca/postscan.html

Clark, Jeff. Uniforms of the NSDAP: Uniforms, Headgear, Insignia of the Nazi Party. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2007.

Dingle, Adrian (w, a). “Chapt-Nine Conclusion: Rex Baxter and Xalanta’s Secret”. Dime Comics, no. 22, April, 1945, pp. 1-7. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166584.pdf

Edwardson, Ryan. “The Many Lives of Captain Canuck: Nationalism, Culture, and the Creation of a Canadian Comic Book Superhero.” Journal of Popular Culture 37.2 (2003): 184-201. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. http://journals2.scholarsportal.info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/pdf/00223840/v37i0002/184_tmloccoaccbs.xml

Lazare, Jerry (w, a). “Nitro”. Dime Comics, no. 22, April, 1945, pp. 15-20. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166584.pdf

“Nip3.” Oxford Dictionaries. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/Nip#Nip_Noun_500. Accessed 22 March 2017.

Kim, Dongwoo. “Why One Should Never Use the Japanese Rising Sun Flag.” Web. http://thewandereronline.com/why-one-should-never-use-the-japanese-rising-sun-flag-by-dongwoo-kim/

Marsh, James. “Japanese Internment: Banished and Beyond Tears.” The Canadian Encyclopedia 2012. Web. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/japanese-internment-banished-and-beyond-tears-feature/

Reyns-Chikuma, Chris. “Exploring Canadian Identities in Canadian Comics [Special Issue].” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Litérature Comparée 43.1 (2016): 5. Print.

Thomas, Bill (w, a). “Chik ‘N’ Fuzz”. Dime Comics, no. 22, April, 1945, pp. 8-13. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166584.pdf

“War and Military.” Archive. Library and Archives Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/posters-broadsides/026023-7200-e.html

“We Must Do Without.” Editorial. Toronto Telegram, April 13, 1942. Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, Canadian War Museum. http://collections.civilisations.ca/warclip/objects/common/webmedia.php?irn=5043709

The Portrayal of Women in Active Comics no. 3

© Copyright 2017 Olivia D’Agostino, Ryerson University

Introduction

This exhibit identifies the ways in which Women are portrayed to younger audiences in Active Comics Issue #3, April 1942. The portrayal of women present in the comic book that display women as helpless and weak do not match how women acted during World War II. Women played a major role in World War II, helping in munitions factories as well as keeping everything together on the home front. In the comic book, there are advertisements that are aimed towards boys and girls, this created the research question, why do the comic books display women as helpless and clueless when it comes to efforts in the war? After doing some research, it was evident that there is not much information on why women were perceived and illustrated this way. However, through analysis of the comic and seeing how women were portrayed, the display of women may have been depicted this way to help encourage men to enlist in the war by making it look glamorous.

Women in WWII

World War II caused political, ethnic, language, gender and class lines that changed the roles each person played during the war and these changes included women becoming a key role in war efforts (Morton, 989). As expressed in the article, Women and War, women have been involved in war efforts since the beginning of war time (Chenier, 1). They’ve been assets to the war in different fields including nursing, munitions factories, and by providing efforts at home that boosted war efforts (Chenier, 1). Women even took over male jobs during wartime which helped Canada during the war and helped advance women’s rights (Chenier, 1). Women even took on the role of training for the home defense which included outfitting themselves in uniforms and training themselves in riffle shooting and military drill (Chenier, 1). Eventually women also enlisted to help in the war which included the air force, army and navy (Chenier, 1). At first the women were only trained for clerical, administrative and support roles but eventually were trained as parachute riggers, laboratory assistants, and trained in electrical and mechanical trades (Chenier, 1). Eventually the Canadians Women’s Army Corps trained their women in the same way, starting them off as cooks, nurses and seamstresses but later began training them as drivers and mechanics (Chenier, 1). On the home front women also helped with code breaking and espionage (Chenier, 1). Women on the home front also ensured the economy did well by producing and conserving food, raising funds to finance hospitals, ambulances, hostels and aircraft, and even volunteered their services inside and outside the country (Chenier, 1).

In the article, The Nursing Sisters of Canada, they discuss how the Nursing Sisters became a major role in the second world war. The work the Nursing Sisters conducted is important to note because it shows how important women were and how they could be perceived as heroes as well. The Nursing Sisters were even sent into action performing first aid to wounded soldier wearing battle dress, steel helmets and backpacks (1). They worked under pressure, they were brave, intelligent and resourceful which are traits that all the male superheroes possess.

Ephemera

Canada Wartime Information Board. Women of Canada! Save and Serve. Broadside. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain

 

There are even some war posters that are present in the Toronto Public Library that depicted the importance of women’s help in the war. One of the posters titled “Housewives! Wage war on Hitler” displays what the women did on the home front to support the war. Their job was to save and re-use items such as rubber, metal, paper, fats, bones, rags and glass to help salvage resources. Another poster with the title “We’re in the army now” was used for the same effect. To help support the idea of re-using items to save on resources.
One poster found in the Toronto Public Library states, “They (women) have done a great work for the Empire in encouraging the men to enlist.” This information proves that the government used women to encourage men to enlist in the war. Women being used as propaganda by the government proves it can also be true that women could have been used as propaganda in comic books to promote men into believing that enlisting in the war could make them more desirable. The stories that follow in the issues of Active Comics number three demonstrate how women were depicted as clueless and helpless in every story in the Canadian comic.

Active Comics Representation of Women

Leo Bachle. Panel from “The Brain and the Mummy Man.” Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 11. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada

Inside the issue of Active Comics number three, the first story is called The Brain and the Mummy Man (1). In this story, the authors make being the heroine look desirable to the young male audience. This story starts off with the Mummy Man asking his henchman to find a pretty girl to capture so that the heroine of the story, The Brain, must come to her rescue. “master say…catch purty girl…use as bait to trap brain!” (3). The illustration also displays the nameless women as helpless by showing her tied up to a chair. She is also displayed with a perfect figure and ripped clothing to make her look desirable and in need of rescuing (3). When The Brain rescues the woman, she stands helplessly at the back waiting for The Brain to do all the work, deliver justice to the villain, and then get her to safety (8-9). With the woman just standing in the background doing nothing, this makes her look weak, and at the mercy of all the men around her. Then to make being the heroine look even more desirable, at the end of the story, the pretty woman rewards The Brain for saving her with a kiss, meanwhile The Brain acts modest (11). Therefore, this teaches young male audience that, if they join the army they can become a hero just like The Brain, save the day by defeating villains as well as win over the pretty girl. However, this also leaves an impression on young female readers that they are not heroic and resourceful but should only be pretty and defenseless to attain the attention of a superhero.

Panel from "Active Jim". Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 14. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Panel from “Active Jim”. Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 14. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

In the short excerpt that introduces Active Jim, they do introduce a woman, Joan Brian, as a working woman. However, she only assists Active Jim in sorting his mail and picking him up from the airport (12-14). Joan does not assist in any crime fighting, or even gathering information on villains, but is instead just an errand girl. This subconsciously sends the message to young female readers that they can not be superheroes who save the day, but only assistants who help the male hero. In the first frame, Joan is seen checking herself out in a compact mirror making sure her hair is perfect (12). Joan is also depicted as a beautiful woman with a perfect figure. This proves that all women associated with superheroes in comic books must be perfect looking. This also send the message to young female readers that they must be beautiful and helpless to keep male attention.

Al Cooper, Panel from "Capt. Red Thortan." <em>Active Comics,</em> No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 21. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Al Cooper, Panel from “Capt. Red Thortan.” Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 21. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

The second story of the issue Active Comics number three, introduces the character Carole Powell who needs rescuing by Capt. Red Thortan. In the first image, Carole is seen on her knees, with the Capt. holding her head down and asking her to stay back (18). This depiction displays that Capt. is the dominant person in this situation. He is in charge and in control which shows us that he will do everything to save the day and all she must do is sit back. Later in the story Carole feints after watching Capt. wrestling the tiger. This shows the reader that Carole is weak and delicate. Carole can not handle the situation and can not handle the thought of the Capt. getting hurt (29-31). Once again, Joan is depicted as having a perfect body with a beautiful face (18). After being saved from the tiger, Carole rewards the Capt. with a kiss. Again, the superhero acts noble and suitable while acting coy (31). While Capt. is off fighting the Japanese, Carole gets lost from him again which proves that she is clueless and in need of constant guidance and assistance. This story proves that the males have the dominant helpful stereotypes while the females have the submissive defenseless stereotypes.

Theodore Steele. Panel from "Dixon of the Mounted." Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 46. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
Theodore Steele. Panel from “Dixon of the Mounted.” Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 46. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

The third story of the issue Action Comics number three is about Dixon of the Mounted. The synopsis of the story immediately reads that he must go find Ruth Barton, another female who has been captured by a villain in the Northern Yukon. Ruth, like the rest of the women, has the perfect body that is paired with a beautiful face. She is also wearing revealing clothing displayed by a dress that is ripped (42). Her disheveled appearance reinforces the idea that she needs to be saved. Throughout the story Ruth gets tied up to a post and is rendered useless (42). The helpful character stereotype even goes towards the dog in this story, who can untie Dixon who can then free Ruth (45). This story demonstrates to the reader that Ruth is clueless, non resourceful and helpless to the point where a dog does more to get them free.

 

M. Karn. Panel from "Thunderfist." Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 64. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
M. Karn. Panel from “Thunderfist.” Active Comics, No. 3, April 1942, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 64. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

In the fourth and final story of the issue Action Comic number three, the woman they introduce is a reporter named Beverly. She is displayed as clueless because she cannot figure out that Randolph Steele is also Thunderfist. Thunderfist arrives at the location where the report is occurring, while talking to Beverly he realizes that he needs to help so he disappears to save the day. Once the situation is resolved he returns to Beverly who is worried and searching for him. Beverly never once puts the two facts together that Randolph could be Thunderfist. A woman who is supposed to report on odd things and come to realizations for the public could not put two simple facts together. This makes Beverly look unintelligent, while making Thunderfist look mysterious, intelligent and brave.

Conclusion

The Canadian White comic books were created with multiple genres as the focus, with war being one of them and which also ended up being the most prominent (Bell, 1). The Golden Age of comic books arose because of the ban on American Comic books during the war (Bell, 1). The production of Canadian comics started at first as a business opportunity to make a lot of money on a product that was desperately sought out by children of the time (Bell, 1). Using women as propaganda as a sort of prize to be won was not the focus for producing comic books. However, based on the depictions of these women and the number of times these stereotypes are depicted throughout the comic, it is evident that men would be more likely to join the war after seeing how the heroes fair with women. Women of this period participated and helped in the war in numerous ways that were beneficial to war efforts, therefore there is no logical reason, other than propaganda, as to why women would be depicted as clueless, unintelligent and useless. After analyzing all the information, it seems apparent that at the time of World War II, using women to get men to enlist in the war was more important than creating positive female ideals towards the younger female audience.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.


Bibiliography

Bachle, Leo. (w, a). “The Brain and the Mummy Man.” Active Comics, no. 3, April, 1942, pp. 1- 11. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166504.pdf

Bell, John. “Comic Books in English Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/comic-books-in-english-canada/. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.
Canada, Veterans Affairs. “The Nursing Sisters of Canada.” Veterans Affairs Canada, 18 Nov. 2016, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/those-who-served/women-and-war/nursing-sisters. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.

Chenier, Nancy Miller. “Women and War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/women-and-war/. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.
Cooper, Al. (w, a). “Capt. Red Thortan” Active Comics, no. 3, April, 1942, pp. 17-30. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166504.pdf

Legault, E.T, (w.) and M. Karn (a). “Thunderfist.” Active Comics, no. 3, April, 1942, pp. 51-64. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166504.pdf

Morton, D., Granatstein, J. L., & Cafferky, S. (2004). Canada and the two world wars. International Journal, 59(4), 988-991. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/220852809?accountid=13631

Steele, Theodore. (w, a). “Dixon of the Mounted.” Active Comics, no. 3, April, 1942, pp. 35-48. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166504.pdf

Canucks and Commies: Canadian Nationalism in Dime Comics No. 11

© Copyright 2017 Maggie Ly, Ryerson University

Edmond Good. Dime Comics. No. 11, October 1943. Commercial Signs of Canada: Cover. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Russia occupied a strange space in the conscious of Canadians during World War II. Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, proved decisive for the course of the war, yet the USSR’s transition from foe to friend was not instantaneous. They found a reluctant ally in Canada, but fear of betrayal and hidden Communistic agendas persisted through the war. Public demand to disband the Communist Party of Canada grew and ‘Commies’ were likened to fascists and Nazi sympathizers (Caccia 162). As the manpower and potential of the Red Army was realized, the Canadian government began using propaganda in the form of posters and print, radio statements, and rallies (many of which were held in Toronto) to absolve the Soviet Union’s uneasy reputation and create support for the Eastern front (164). Among the variety of print medium in Canada, the comic emerged as a powerful form of propaganda and a site to build and break national identities.

Published two years after Barbarossa, “The Spirit of Russia” is a continuing series in 11th issue of Dime Comics (March 1943). The story was created, written, and illustrated by one of Bell Feature’s key artists, Leo Bachle. It follows Johnny Canuck’s adventure in Soviet Russia where he is saved from the grips of a German soldier by a Red Army sniper. The sniper takes Johnny to a Russian camp where Nick, a Soviet commander, gives Johnny the new Soviet fighter plane called The Spirit of Russia to fly to Cairo. He takes down several Lufftwafte fighters on the way there and commends the plane for its flying ability (Bachle 40-46).

The Canadian Whites and the Comic in the Context of War

Nick recognizes Johnny Canuck.
Leo Bachle. Panel from “The Spirit of Russia.” Dime Comics, No. 11, October, 1943, Bell Features, p. 42. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166574.pdf.

“The Spirit of Russia” belongs to a collection of comics called the Canadian Whites produced during Canada’s Golden Age of Comics from 1941 to 1946. The War Exchange Conservation Act of 1940 banned the import of luxury goods and enabled Canadian publishers to establish themselves without American competition (Bell). Canadian companies like Bell Features (formerly Commercial Signs of Canada), Maple Leaf, and Anglo-American published many titles including Dime Comics, Active Comics, Triumph, and Three Aces. When the ban was lifted, Canadian companies could not compete with American ones and in 1946, the Canadian Golden Age of Comics was over (Bell).

The propaganda value of the Canadian Whites come from the combination of circumstance and the literary features of comic books. The War Exchange Conservation Act meant that the Canadian Whites were created by Canadian artists and writers for an exclusively Canadian audience. Where America had Superman and Captain America, Canada filled with Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, and other Canadian national superheroes (Bell & Viau). For those few years, readers of comics had something special of their own. Insulated from the outside world, they experienced the ideas and meanings shared from one Canadian to another.

The comic is the medium for those Canadian narratives. Like other literary forms, they communicate through stories that allow us to find meaning in characters’ actions and words. Stories are powerful ways to communicate, and the comic transforms story-telling. Presented as an intertextual sequence of moments, a series of flashes before our eyes, they combine words and images to make content easily digestible to readers. This is especially important during times of war. War comics capture the “simplicity of human behaviour” (Hirsh & Loubert 139), a condition that makes us see evil as absolute evil and good as unconditionally good. In Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History, Fredrik Strömberg describes it as the way in which humans naturally see the world (9).

Most of the stories in the Canadian Whites can be considered simplistic in narrative deliverance, but they are often larger than life, reflecting the experience of a war that completely enveloped the lives of Canadians. They depict the captivating adventures of superheroes doing extraordinary things. These adventures occur in the equally terrifying and exciting setting of war where the heroes can defeat outlandish villains and real-life enemies like the Nazis. Thus, the simplistic and blatantly didactic quality of the comics resides within exciting narratives that appeal to readers because it helps them make sense of the war. In the same way that comics transformed story-telling, the war transformed the Canadian Whites into a medium with mass appeal to propagate nationalistic messages about Canada’s position in World War II.

Wartime Rhetoric: Propaganda in World War II

World War II Propaganda Poster
Albert Cloutier and Eric Aldwinckle. Notre Armée a besoin de Bons Canadiens. Acc. No. 1983-30-111. Library and Archives Canada Posters and Broadsides in Canada, www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/posters-broadsides/026023-7200-e.html.

“Just one of many forms of self-expression and communication available to us” (McCloud162), comics exist among other forms of propaganda in the Second World War. Canada’s Wartime Information Board (WIB) produced propaganda in various forms. It controlled the sharing of information to promote war efforts and increase public support and moral. The poster is perhaps the most like comics. It uses a combination of image and text and often propagate war narratives in oversimplified stereotypes of good and evil. Some propaganda posters illustrate images of brave and heroic Canadian soldiers likened to other figures with those ideal characteristics, such as the knight (Cloutier & Aldwinckle). The Wartime Information Board was also heavily involved in the media. Canadian war correspondents worked within guidelines established by the WIB and some “acted as official state propagandists” (Engler 162). Articles like “Churchill, King, Lapointe Confident that Dominion Will Supply Huge Demand” (Hamilton Spectator) and “Happy Commercial and Cultural Tie is Promised with Russia” (Saturday Night) were subject to censorship regulations. Beyond print propaganda, rallies, press conferences, films and radio worked to shape public opinion to suit the needs of the country. Their strategies of persuasion and dissemination are reflected in the Canadian Whites. Like comics, traditional forms of propaganda exploit words and images, using simplicity to counter the complex emotions of war.

Enemy or Ally?

World War II Propaganda Poster
Harry Mayerovitch (a), and Canada Wartime Information Board. Carter? Caron? Caplan? Canakos? Cantrowicz? Canadian! 1944. Acc. No. 1981-32-10R. Library and Archives Canada Posters and Broadsides in Canada, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/posters-broadsides/026023-7200-e.html#cont.

At the surface of “The Spirit of Russia” is an effort to bolster the relationship between Canada and the USSR. Johnny Canuck is saved just in time by a skilled Soviet sniper. A Red Army captain whom Johnny affectionately greets with “Hey Nick…. you old walrus!” (Bachle 42) is depicted as an old friend of Johnny’s. The Spirit of Russia can handle the risky flying maneuvers that Johnny performs. The inclusion of the USSR into the narrative of a prominent superhero reflects Canada’s propaganda efforts to improve public perceptions of the Communist nation. In 1932, the Wartime Information Board admitted that it was hard to overcome negative impressions of Russia (Granatstein 79). Polls that year indicated that 47% of Canadians wanted to see Canadian-Soviet relations improve while only 25% did not (80). Propaganda efforts to improve Soviet reputation in Canada is well-documented. Rallies were documented in news articles like one titled “Toronto’s Homage Paid to Russia At Monster Rally” published by The Globe and Mail (1942). Many posters aimed to relieve tension among cultural and ethnic groups in Canada. The positive portrayal of Russians, their skill, and quality of their war resources reflect Canada’s effort to change public perceptions of a former foe.

German soldier recognizes Johnny Canuck.
Leo Bachle. Panel from “The Spirit of Russia.” Dime Comics, No. 11, October, 1943, Bell Features, p. 46. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166574.pdf.

Delving deeper into “The Spirit of Russia”, it is evident that Russians are consistently undermined. The Russian sniper who saves Johnny’s life occupies only two frames and disappears from the narrative altogether (Bachle 41). He remains unknown to Johnny, who wakes up singularly focused on delivering his message that will help the Russians. The Soviet Captain Nick’s authority and rank is devalued in his encounter with Johnny. Upon recognizing Johnny, he dismisses the nurse’s request to order Johnny to rest. He also admits that Johnny will be better flying without a convoy, suggesting that a Russian assistance will only hinder the Canadian superhero (42). Finally, The Spirit of Russia is undermined when the Germans recognize Johnny Canuck as its pilot. The trap they set for the Russian plane is thwarted when Johnny, a threat greater than the guns of the fighter, is recognized by the enemy (46). Combined with the depiction of Johnny Canuck as the ideal Canadian, these examples reveal a trend in the simple narrative of Canadian superiority over Russia.

Shades of Canadian Nationalism

The trend of the devalued Russian in “The Spirit of Russia” points to its Canadian nationalist subtext. However, the Soviet Union is not the only cultural scapegoat of a missing Canadian identity in World War II. German and Japanese portrayal is often used to characterize difference in comics. They are portrayed as pure evil, lacking intelligence, morals, and in many cases, good looks. From the same issue of Dime Comics, Scotty MacDonald’s fight with the Japanese reveal them to be just that (Cooper 48-56). They fit the black-and-white stereotypes used to effectively fuel propaganda, but Russia does not. Compared to the portrayal of definite enemies, the representation of Soviets defies binary portrayals of good and evil.  Tall and brave people who spoke English without an accent, they were also less than the Canadians they were allied with. If World War II’s pro-Russian propaganda had the same undertones as in “The Spirit of Russia”, it could account for why Canadians had such little faith in Canadian-Soviet Relations.

Photograph from Toronto Star
“Canada and USSR Friends in War and Peace.” Toronto Star 1945. Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library, Toronto Star Photo Archive. Toronto Star License.

Where nationalist subtexts did little to increase public support for the USSR, it helped build a Canadian national identity. Canada was not considered a major power in the war and it was still not independent of Great Britain. Dittmer and Larsen note that a collective Canadian identity is often thought to originate from fear of Canadian inferiority (738). Canada was ready for a larger role on the world stage, and the USSR’s position after Barbarossa proved to be the perfect opportunity. It was a large, dominating nation with a uniting ideology that bound its constituent countries together. It was also in a place of limbo between good and evil. In “The Spirit of Russia”, the Soviet characters stick out because they reside in that grey space between the stereotypical, black-and-white depictions of good and evil. The story exploits the vulnerable position of the USSR, painting Russians in colours that are deceivingly non-Canadian. It propagates an underlying narrative that Russians are only good allies because Canadians are better people. “The Spirit of Russia” creates a complex portrayal of Russians who are not evil nor completely good, building Canadian identity through a covert act of exclusion.

Cultural Fallout

The rise and fall of Canada’s Golden Age of Comics parallels Russia’s positive relationship with Canada. Like the Canadian Golden Age of Comics, the relationship between Canada and the USSR was held together by the weak bonds of wartime necessity, and within those bonds, Canada found a course to promote nationalism and a unique national identity. In Dime Comic’s 11th issue, “The Spirit of Russia” (1943) reflects propaganda efforts to align the public interest with Canadian nationalist ideals. In narratives that move beyond demonizing the enemy and sanctifying a former foe, the portrayal of USSR Soviets reveal how difference is manufactured as colossal gaps of disparity and minute nuances of difference to build an exclusive Canadian identity.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.


Works Cited

Bachle, Leo (w, a). “The Spirit of Russia.” Dime Comics, no. 11, October, 1943, pp. 40-46. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada, data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166574.pdf.

Bell, John. “Comic Books in English Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Anthony Wilson-Smith, 8 Jul. 2015, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/comic-books-in-english-canada/.

Bell, John and Michael Viau. “Canadian Golden Age of Comics, 1941-1946.” Beyond the Funnies: The History of Comics in Canada and Quebec. Library and Archives Canada, 31 Jan. 2015, www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/comics/027002-8300-e.html.

Caccia, Ivana. Managing the Canadian Mosaic in Wartime: Shaping Citizenship Policy, 1939-1945, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.

Cooper, Al (w, a). “Scotty MacDonald.” Dime Comics, no. 11, October, 1943, pp. 48-56. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada, data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166574.pdf.

Dittmer, Jason and Soren Larsen. “Captain Canuck, Audience Response, and the Project of Canadian Nationalism.” Social and Cultural Geography, vol. 8, no. 5, Taylor & Francis Group, 2001. Scholars Portal Journals, resolver.scholarsportal.info/resolve/14649365/v08i0005/735_ccaratpocn.xml.

Engler, Yves. A Propaganda System: How the Canadian Government, Corporations, Media, and Academia Sell War and Exploitation, Fernwood Publishing/RED Publishing, 2016.

Granatstein. J.L. “Changing Alliances: Canada and the Soviet Union, 1938-1945.” Canada and the Soviet Experiment: Essays on Canadian Encounters with Russia and the Soviet Union, 1900-1991, edited by David Davies, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 1987, 75-87.

Hirsh, Michael, and Patrick Loubert. The Great Canadian Comic Books, Peter Martin Associates, 1971.

“Russia Anxious, Eager to Make Lasting Peace.” Toronto Daily Star, 3 Jul. 1945. Canadian War Museum Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/intro_e.shtml.

Strömberg, Fredrik. Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History, Ilex, 2010.

“Toronto’s Homage Paid to Russia At Monster Rally.” The Globe and Mail. 23 Jun. 1942. Canada War Museum Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War, www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/intro_e.shtml.

Pedagogy and Propaganda in Active Comics no. 7

© Copyright 2017 Christine Dionio, Ryerson University

Introduction

During the Second World War, the War Exchange Conservation Act placed in December 1940 restricted the importation of non-essential, luxury goods. This placed a strain on several industries, such as the comic book industry, as American comics thrived amongst Canadian readers (Bell “Comic Books in English Canada”). Rather than halt the comic book industry, the importation ban proved to be a precedent to the golden age of Canadian comics through the creation of the “Canadian Whites,” Canadian produced comics that, unlike the coloured American comics, had pages printed in black and white (Beaty 429). Many of the comic books that composed the “Canadian Whites” are similar to American superhero comics, however, they are more in-tune with Canadian sensibilities. Since the “Canadian Whites” were produced during the war, the comics’ storylines are not only a reflection of how the war was perceived by Canadians, but how Canadians wanted to inform the comic book market (i.e. children) about the war with a particular ideology in mind. The visual and textual war references in the seventh issue of Active Comics from September 1942 depict the fictional stories in a wartime context that the readers were exposed to through other forms of media, such as newspapers, propaganda posters, and films. The explicit visual and textual references seen in seventh issue of Active Comics demonstrates how the “Canadian Whites” served as a pedagogical tool used to address the anxieties of Canadian youth during World War II, using war-focused, nationalistic imagery to ease their anxieties and foster pride and support for the Allies during the war.

Canadian Strength and Adversity

T.A. Steele. Page from “Dixon of the Mounted.” Active Comics, no. 7, p. 1. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

The visual and textual references found in the seventh issue of Active Comics paralleled the actual events of the war in a way that celebrates Canadian strength and adversity. This is despite lacking any kind of explicit superpowers, with the exception of “The Brain”, who has clairvoyant abilities. The narratives had to discourage cynicism the reader may have towards the war without creating an irrational, over-inflated sense of optimism. As well, the heroes are expected to support the country by being active in the war, but their capabilities cannot be great enough to end the war on their own since this would create an unrealistic vision of the war and the enemy (Cord 60). While The Brain is the only hero in Active Comics no. 7 to have a superhuman power, he does not participate in the war. Rather, he fights local city crimes and uses his clairvoyant powers to foil unlawful citizens. Dixon of the Mounted lacks any kind of powers and, rather than being classified as a superhero, is a mere corporal supporting the Allies by fighting enemies within Canadian borders. The seventh issue in particular has Dixon fighting against Nazi agents who “intend to wreak havoc and destruction [at a Canadian munitions centre]” (Active Comics 1). Similar to soldiers fighting the war, Dixon depends on his pistol and determination to thwart the Nazi’s plans. Not only does Dixon lack superpowers, he also acts as a symbolic metaphor through his Mountie attire. Similar to propaganda posters, the characters embody cultural symbols as a means to connote them to a particular culture and nation. Dixon, in his Mountie uniform, represents Canada and fights for the law. The Nazi agents, introduced with a Swastika as a backdrop (Active Comics 1) signify Germany and antagonize them as threats to Canadian security. As a Mountie, he acts for the sake of law and justice, embodying both without compromise through an explicitly Canadian character. Ultimately, Dixon parallels the strife of Canadian soldiers in their fight with Axis soldiers and, despite lacking superpowers, demonstrates how those fighting alongside law and justice shall overcome the enemy.

Collective Canadian Triumph

The comic also demonstrates how success lies not only in the individual, but in the collective effort, which also applies to the events of the war. Both “Capt. Red Thortan” and “Thunderfist” demonstrate success against the enemies through the cooperation of everyone involved. In both stories, the characters are fighting against Japanese in a naval context. Active Comics no. 7 came out in September 1942, a year following Pearl Harbor (Greenhouse “Canada and the Battle of Hong Kong”) and a month following the Dieppe Raid (Herd “Dieppe Raid”). During this time, the Allies had to not only combat an enemy in a territory that they were unfamiliar with, but they also had to strike back following the many casualties at Dieppe. In both “Capt. Red Thortan” and “Thunderfist,” the respective heroes are both seen to thwart the Japanese’s advances onto the Allies albeit in an unfamiliar terrain. The emphasis on collective efforts was prevalent during World War II, as demonstrated in posters among other ephemera that worked to promote recruitment, promote bond sales, and promote unity both through domestic cooperation and by sympathizing with soldiers fighting overseas (Halliday 3).  While the heroes lacked any kind of extraordinary powers, they helped reassure the anxieties the young readers may have had about the war by including heroes that are similar to the soldiers who, despite lacking superpowers, can still unite and fight against the enemy.

The Axis and Otherness

Al Cooper. Panel from “Capt. Red Thortan.” Active Comics, no. 7, p. 43. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

One important aspect of visual representation in Active Comics are the way that characters coming from Axis countries are represented through stereotypical characteristics. In doing so, the Japanese and German characters are dehumanized and delineated from the reader as the other – something not to be identified with (Murray 181). With comics as both a visual and textual medium, it is important to consider how the visual representations retain as much meaning as what is demonstrated textually. Most of the major characters in Active Comics involved in the war are drawn realistically, thus the reader cannot identify as well with the protagonist and the antagonists as well as they could a more abstract figure (McCloud 36). However, this works to the advantage of fostering feelings of contempt towards the Axis powers. While the reader may not be a muscular adult male, they identify much closer with them than they do the dehumanized German and Japanese characters. The exaggerated, menacing depictions of the Axis powers not only reduce the enemies to flattened stereotypes, but also associate them with evil (Murray 191). The characters act as metaphoric symbols, standing in place of countries, and the stories of Dixon fighting the Nazi agents and Thunderfist thwarting the plans of the Japanese navy are meant to parallel the ongoing narratives of the war. The Axis characters, being visually antagonized, are not only delineated from the reader, but connoted with evil, thus rationalizing the archetypal triumph of good over evil which is prevalent in Active Comics‘ stories.

Shifting War, Shifting Narratives

“Active Jim’s Monthly Message.” Active Comics, no. 7, September 1942, p. 29. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

It is important to keep in mind that, due to the uncertainty of events, the visual and textual war references are subject to the changing events in the war. In a sense, the characters are a reaction to the battles, as was the case with how the Japanese are presented in Canadian media. In Legg’s film, “Warclouds in the Pacific,” Japanese residing in Britain and America are described to be “intensely loyal to the democratic principles they have adopted [and] proud of the New World heritage” (Legg “Warclouds in the Pacific”). However, Active Comics no. 7 expresses a different sentiment through the way that the Japanese characters are stereotyped and, as seen in “Capt. Red Thortan”, referred to as “Japs” and even “yellow friend” (Active Comics 38). Since the seventh issue of Active Comics was published following the attack at Pearl Harbor (Greenhouse “Battle of Hong Kong), it can be seen that as the events shifted in the war, as did the feelings towards the Axis powers and, in turn, the way that they are represented in mass media. However, the comics were not limited to negative depictions of the enemy with respects to the war. The comics inform the reader of the war both by negatively portraying the enemy and glorifying Allied soldiers. Despite Dieppe being a tragic loss for Canadians (Herd “Dieppe Raid”), “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” commended the “heroism displayed by all ranks at Dieppe” (Active Comics 29). While the Dieppe Raid resulted in a high amount of casualties, “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” celebrates the soldiers’ efforts, discouraging any kind of pessimism regarding the casualties at Dieppe.  The comics, being released on a monthly basis, actively react to the events and foster particular ideologies. That said, the comics act as propaganda, however it is with the youth readers’ anxieties and sensitivity to the war in mind.

Rationalizing Violence

The characters in Active Comics engage in realistic cases of violence, however they are rationalized through the context of the comics’ plots. The wartime context of the comics are what is considered “a state of exception” (Bainbridge 757), meaning that while the actions of the characters may go against the law in a regular context, acting against the law in favour of justice is permissible so long as it is in favour of the common good. In “Dixon of the Mounted”, the story in the issue is resolved with Dixon shooting a traitor, Karnz, dead. While murder is condemned, Dixon’s actions are rationalized since killing Karnz subverts “another Nazi Plot of Sabotage” (Active Comics 10). The comics justify wartime violence so long as it is at the benefit of defending the country and subduing the enemy which, during World War II, are the Axis powers. This can also be seen in “Capt. Red Thortan” when a Japanese pilot is shot down by a turret (Active Comics 44) – Captain Red Thortan killing another individual is permissible during these exceptional circumstances. While the readers of the comic are too young to fight in the war themselves, rationalizing violence still had a practical function at home. Similar to wartime posters, justifying wartime violence against the Axis powers works to promote feelings of contempt which then help foster nationalism and, in turn, support for the war effort (Halliday 128). The readers who associate themselves closer to Canadian characters such as Dixon and Captain Red Thortan than with the Japanese and German characters then are prompted to help support the war effort despite being to young to fight themselves. Overall, in rationalizing the war and the violence associated with it, the comic works to foster nationalistic support for Allied soldiers since the characters, despite technically breaking the law, are acting in exceptional circumstances for justice’s sake.

Conclusion

The seventh issue of Active Comics demonstrates both how Canadians responded to the war and the kinds of ideologies that they wanted to disseminate through wartime ephemera. In celebrating the valour of Canadian heroes, delineating the reader from the enemies, and justifying the violence, the comics work as a highly ideological pedagogical tool that not only informed their market, but influenced them in favour of nationalism. Doing so had pragmatic purposes, as doing so acted as a means to garner support for the war effort from members of Canadian society to young to fight on the war front. What differentiates the “Canadian Whites” from other wartime ephemera is how the approach had to appeal to a youth audience that, while is not completely passive, is still highly impressionable. Active Comics, in taking advantage of its visual and textual capacities, demonstrates the multifaceted ways that different mediums can be encoded with particular ideologies.

Works Cited

Active Comics, no. 7, September 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/art/bell-features/Documents/Active_Comics_7.pdf

Bainbridge, Jason. ““The Call to do Justice”: Superheroes, Sovereigns and the State During Wartime.” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law – Revue international de Sémiotique juridique, vol. 28, no. 4, May 24 2015, pp. 745-763. Scholars Portal Journals, DOI:10.1007/s11196-015-9424-y.

Beaty, Bart. “The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 36, no. 3, 2006, pp. 427-439. Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database, DOI: 10.1080/02722010609481401

Bell, John. “Comic Books in English Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, August 7 2015. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/comic-books-in-english-canada/.

Edwardson, Ryan. “The Many Lives of Captain Canuck: Nationalism, Culture, and the Creation of a Canadian Comic Book Hero.” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 31, no. 2, November 2003, pp.184-201. Scholars Portal Journals, DOI: 10.1111/1540-5931.00063.

Greenhouse, Brereton and Richard Foot. “Battle of Hong Kong.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, November 15 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/battle-of-hong-kong/.

Herd, Alex. “Dieppe Raid.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, June 4 2015. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/dieppe-raid/.

Legg, Stuart. “Warclouds in the Pacific.” The National Film Board, 1941. Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU1GXo_i4bQ.

Halliday, Hugh A. “Posters and the Canadian War Museum.” Canadian Military History, vol. 3, no., January 1 2012, pp. 126-129. Scholars Commons @ Laurier, http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol3/iss1/16/.

Heller, Steven. “The Ministry of Fear.” Social Research, vol. 71, no. 4, 2004, pp. 849-862. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/article/527363.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, William Morrow, 1994.

Murray, Christopher. Champions of the Oppressed: Superhero Comics, Popular Culture, and Propaganda in American During World War II, Hampton Press, 2011.

Scott, Cord A.. “Fighting for Freedom (1939-45).” Comics and Conflict, Naval Institute Press, 2014, pp. 54-90. ProQuest Ebook Central,               http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=1577594.

Stacey, C.P.. Revised by Richard Foot. “Second World War (WWII).” The Canadian Encyclopedia, May 13 2015. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/second-world-war-wwii.

Media Disclaimer

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose ofresearch and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study or education.

 

Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Future: Children and Propaganda in Active Comics #9

©Copyright 2017 Alexandrea Fiorante, Ryerson University.

Active Comics Issue #9 

Writing for Canadian children and adolescence aged 7-18 during World War II, Active Comics issue nine (January 1943) relays wartime propaganda that promoted Canadian patriotism and war inclusion to youth who were too young to participate on the war front. This exhibit will study how Issue #9 involved children into wartime activities and groomed adolescents approaching wartime age through the comic “Active Jim” and his club membership “Active Jim’s Monthly Message.” Active Comics issue #9 is an important tool for recruiting the youth and creating ideal Canadian citizens from progression towards a better nation.

Canada and the Second World War

The War Exchange Act prohibited American non-essential goods, including comic books, from entering Canada during World War II. As a result, Canada emerged with comic books that promoted their own nationalistic views: The Canadian Whites. A Toronto publisher, Bell Features, created Active Comics.

Adrien Dingle. Active Comics: No. 9, January 1943, Dixon of the Mounted: Cover. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1943.

Created for, and by Canadians, Active Comics issue #9 encompass patriotic heroes, wartime news and incentives for children’s involvement. It was used as propaganda to groom youth for war. Fredrik Stromberg argues that propaganda was a necessary form of communication because of wartime ideas that viewed militarization as rational for teaching values (ch 2). Comic books influenced child readers’ opinions on political, social and moral values during the 1940s, in which patriotism was expected. It created ideal Canadian citizens to enlist in the war.

The importance of comic books stemmed from the educational standards of World War II. The 1880’s education system focused on teaching youth about politics and war events at government-run institutions. Ross Collins writes that children existed as messengers to relay information to their parents, among others (ch 2). Authorities encouraged youth to partake in clubs, such as boy scouts, to learn proper values, be groomed for war, and prevent delinquency (ch 2).

The drafting age for youth on the war front was nineteen. Comic books provided information that prepared young people, aged seventeen and eighteen, who were soon eligible to participate. Many children had siblings and parents active in the war efforts. Comic book imagery and content spawned children’s desire to be like their elders.
Bell Feature’s Active Comics issue #9 works similarly. It includes Canadian morals and militarization that groomed youth for future duties. Not only is reading an educational act, but it also kept children from delinquency by including clubs to join and activities to do. Issue #9 harnesses war values and interests by providing participatory opportunities and Canadian heroes to follow (Kockmarek 150).

Analysis of the “Active Jim” Comic

“Active Jim” is a comic book hero created by Edmond Good that presented an attainable image of the ideal Canadian citizen. “Active Jim” follows the young Canadian hero Active Jim and his lady friend Joan Brian during their car ride home after a hockey game. A boy of good values, he picks up a hitch hiker who turns out to be a Nazi trying to reach the United States border. Active Jim outsmarts the Nazi, ties him up, and brings him to police. The next day, Joan acknowledges Jim’s success. He replies that “any real Canadian boy would have done the same” (Good 37).

Fig. 1. Edmond Good. Frame from “Active Jim.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 37. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Important to note is Active Jim’s backstory. Active Jim is a teenage boy who is not old enough to be on the war front. He is a young, average boy who, in-between his studies and watching hockey games, tries to do ‘his bit’ in support of Canada. Active Jim presents to youth a Canadian hero that is relatable in lifestyle and age. His comic pushes desires to be active in war efforts by showing an easily identifiable character and his successful attempts to fight crime. When he says that “any real Canadian boy would have done the same,” the idea of using role models is evident (fig. 1). Active Jim is an older brother figure used to groom, and persuade, young boys into being active in war efforts while showcasing Canadian values as important.

Fig. 2. Ross Saakel. Splash page from “The Noodle.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 30. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Active Comics issue #9 also uses the young, amiable hero character in “The Noodle,”created by Ross Saakel, to inspire youth to do their part. The character is a baby wearing a diaper who combats enemy threat to save himself and his girlfriend, Henrietta (fig. 2). Like Active Jim, The Noodle is too young to be involved in the war. Likewise, the The Noodle’s backstory involves that his father is battling on the war front. The comic uses the father figure to identify with children who have parents in the war.  These fictional, young heroes show that anyone can aid in the war effort.

(Fig. 3)“Fund-Raising Poster, Hey Gang! Keep on Licking War Savings Stamps- They’re full of Vitamin ‘V’”. Broadside. Circa 1942, Canadian War Museum. Public Domain.

The Canadian War Museum poster “Hey Gang” uses a youth character to promote buying war saving stamps (fig 3). As done with “The Noodle” and “Active Jim,” the use of another young role model character creates a collective drive and a sense of unity that inspires other youth to participate. This poster also coincides with the idea of doing one’s part and reinforces the idea that all “Canadian’s must contribute to the end the war” (Stevenson). Considering children are too young to be on the war front,  buying war saving stamps-like the poster- and victory bonds, they are able to aid in the funding of the war. The red “V” on the poster stands for victory, providing an incentive to do their part and emerge successful in their efforts and the efforts of Canada.

 

Analysis of “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” 

Active Jim is the leader of his own membership club for wartime efforts. Created by Adrien Dingle, “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” uses the idealistic Canadian hero as propaganda for involving youth into war. His name, “Active Jim,” insinuates activeness from the use of the adjective in conjunction with the issue’s title “Active Comics.” This is evidence of blatant militarization and implementation of wartime values.

Fig. 4. Edmond Good. Frame from “Active Jim.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 35. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Noted in his comic “Active Jim,” the comic’s backstory tells the reader that he and Joan are in the car chatting over the “Active Team’s sensational victory” (fig. 4). This acts as propaganda within within propaganda to advertise the club in Active Jim’s own realities. By pairing the club, the comic’s themes of activism and his notion that “any real Canadian boy would have done the same,” the club is a grooming method for making war efforts desirable by penning every child as a war hero. Active Jim’s club exists as a controlled environment that militarizes children and keeps them out of trouble as Collins had suggested (ch 2).

Active Jim’s club membership is an opportunity for youth’s active participation. Providing an elitist group run by a figure like Active Jim, working with the Canadian hero and receiving a special group certificate is a huge incentive to be war hero. Similarly to figure 3, it is effective in using a heroic character to relay information and ask the youth to fulfill roles. Children can relate to the mundane character and will listen and strive to be like them because they are relatable in lifestyle and age but still make evident change in Canadian society.

Active Jim’s Monthly Message: Casablanca Conference Analysis  

Fig. 5. Adrien Dingle. Splash page from “Active Jim’s Monthly Message.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 18. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Active Jim’s Monthly Message in issue #9 asks for members to decode a message about the Casablanca conference. The use of a secret message not only creates excitement around an elitist group task, but relays political information to children. The Casablanca conference of January 1943, the same month and year of Active Comics issue #9, is about Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill’s next phase of World War II (Fleming 2). Cleverly nicknamed “SYMBOL” which coincides with Active Jim’s ‘symbol message,’ the mention of the political event is used to inform children about the current events. As children learn, they will pass the information on to their parents through Collin’s suggestion that youth are used as messengers (ch 2). Likewise, “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” also acknowledges that children “are doing their part in so many ways… buying war saving stamps… but there’s still plenty of growth,” insinuating that there is always work to do, and that involvement in the war is crucial (Dingle 18) (fig. 5).

In connection to the historical outcome of the next phase, the Casablanca Conference was for “unconditional surrender,” meaning they would fight until their ultimate defeat, as peace could only come from the elimination of the German and the Japanese (Fleming 3). This mention resonates with readers and the act of continuing to do their part. However, the message remains unsolved because of the inability to retrieve the code wheel.
Active Comics issue #9 includes propaganda around teaching readers feelings of racism and hatred towards enemy powers. Active Jim’s comic includes Nazi hatred propaganda, and another comic “Thunderfist” showcases negative Japanese representation. Stromberg’s notion of ‘war rage’ as seen in various comics dealing with enemy powers was evident in popular entertainment to promote patriotism (ch 2).

Fig. 6. “Keep these hands off.” Broadside. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.

The World War II poster “Keep your hands off!” is an example of racial hatred towards enemies to promote patriotism (fig 6). The woman in the poster is holding a child that symbolizes innocence. The dark hands that have the emblems of the enemy powers on them are suggestively devious because of their shape in conjunction with the headline “keep your hands off!” The poster stresses the protection of youth from the enemy powers by fighting against them and posing them as a threat. The collective hatred of their enemies spawned patriotism and a desire for young people to fight against them to protect Canada and future generations.

By linking the ideas of the Casablanca Conference, mystery message from “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” and Jim’s statement to “work three times as hard to make this message a reality” Active Comics issue #9 uses the information to groom children for war by immersing them in politics and ideas essential to fighting enemies.

Fig. 7. Advertisement for Victory Model’s “Command Repeating Play Gun.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 66. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Likewise to the ideas of grooming youth through information, the “Command Repeating Play Gun” by Victory Models aids in this process by selling replica weapons used on the war front (fig. 7). Through purchasing the items, the youth who are close to their enlistment age are able to be familiar, and practice with, the gun. Children further away from the legal age of enlistment are able to be groomed along with the elders to find desire in being on the war front through engagement with the toy.

The club and the toy exist, as Collins suggested, for keeping children out of trouble by giving them war related groups and items to engage with and gain interest in the war (ch 2). By partaking in activities, they are gaining Canadian values and learning how to be successful on the war front.

Conclusion 

Active Comic’s issue #9 (January 1943) targeted children aged 7-18 during World War II to relay wartime information and ensure the participation of children regardless of their age. Likewise, issue #9 is a method for grooming youth in preparation for the warfront. Through this issue, the form is used an important tool for harnessing youth interests and involvement through the “Active Jim” comic and “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” to create ideal Canadian citizens for wartime recruitment.


Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.


Works Cited

Adrien Dingle. Active Comics: No. 9, January 1943, Dixon of the Mounted: Cover. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1943

Collins, Ross F. “How War Can Make Children Better.” Children, War & Propaganda. New York, Peter Lang, 2011.

“Command Repeating Play Gun.” no. 9, January 1943, p. 66. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166795.pdf 

Fleming, Thomas. “The Most Ruinous Allied Policy of the Second World War.” History Today, vol. 51, no. 12, 2001, pp. 2-3. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/202814892?accountid=13631

Dingle, Adrien. “Active Jim’s Monthly Message.” no. 9, January 1943, p. 18. Bell Features Collection, Ryerson University Library and Archives. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166795.pdf

Good, Edmond. “Active Jim.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 35-37. Bell Features Collection, Ryerson University Library and Archives. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166795.pdf

Kocmarek, Ivan. “Truth, Justice and the Canadian Way: The War-Time Comics of Bell Features Publications.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, vol. 43, no. 1, 2016, pp. 148-165.  Project Muse, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/611725/pdf.

Saakel, Ross. “The Noodle.” Active Comics, no. 9, January 1943, p. 30-31. Bell Features Collection, Ryerson University Library and Archives. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166795.pdf 

Stevenson, Robert. “Canadian Wartime Propaganda: Second World War Propaganda Poster.” Canadian War Museum, Canadian War Museum, http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/propaganda/poster20_e.shtml. Accessed 9 March 2017.

Stromberg, Fredrik. Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History. Lewes, Ilex, 2010.

Anti-Japanese and Germanphobic Sentiments: Perpetuating Fear and Loathing of the Enemy in Commando Comics, Issue No.15

© Copyright 2017 Hallifax, Michaela, Ryerson University

 

INTRODUCTION & RISE OF THE CANADIAN COMIC

Upon first glance, the 15th edition of Commando Comics published in January of 1945 may seem like an innocent comic meant to entertain and delight Canadians during a tumultuous time during World War II. However, after further examining its propagandistic subtleties scattered throughout this issue, it becomes clear that these comics were not simply blatantly racist and nationalistic but were a result of and contributor to the anti Japanese and German-phobic ideals that were being perpetuated throughout the allied nations during WWII. By portraying certain depictions of the enemy meant to represent an entire country of people, the 15th issue of the Commando Comics helped feed into this notion that all of the Japanese and all of the German people were inherently evil and inferior, whether they were directly involved with the war or not, ultimately giving rise to racist sentiments throughout the allied nations.

It was in the early 1930’s that the comic book industry really started to gain ground as a mainstream source of media and entertainment. With the release of Action Comics No.1, which featured the now iconic hero Superman co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the popularity of comic books continued to rise, subsequently inspiring others to contribute their own costumed characters to the growing industry (Bell). In 1939, despite the outbreak of war overseas, the comic book industry continued to rise in popularity and began to spread throughout Canada. However in December of 1940, faced with a country that was experiencing the demands of a war economy and a growing trade deficit with the United States, the King government passed the War Exchange Conservation Act, effectively putting a stop to nonessential goods being imported into Canada, including comic books (Bell). Taking advantage of these war time restrictions, multiple Canadian publishers began to distribute their own comic books featuring uniquely Canadian superheroes; one publisher being Bell Features who was publishing more than 100 000 comics per week, including Commando Comics (Bell).

 

 

NATIONALISM & PROPAGANDISTIC DEPICTIONS

Throughout war, one of the driving forces on any home-front has always been to instill and call upon nationalism throughout that specific nation; to gather support, to help with enlisting, and to raise moral throughout a country during an extremely difficult time. It was no different in Canada during World War II. The Canadian Whites collection were simply a more disguised form of propaganda meant to rally nationalistic sentiments throughout the country, as are most Superhero comic books. Although comic books simply seem like an appealing children’s story that are based on childhood superhero fantasies, they are usually a more complex, nationalist allegory (Heet). The Superheroes that Bell Features were publishing were nationalist ones who really spoke to Canadian’s pride and belief that they were essential in defeating Hitler and the Nazis. Johnny Canuck for example, who appeared in several Bell Features comics, continuously fought and overcame Nazi oppression and was crucial in the destruction of Hitler’s war material factories, all the while being praised by Winston Churchill who was in awe over what this Canadian hero was achieving (Heet). This nationalistic depiction can be seen throughout the 15th edition of the Commando Comics as well, in the way that the Canadian heroes are drawn and displayed.  In The Young Commandos, written and illustrated by Jerry Lazare, the young heroes are drawn as very handsome, tough, muscular men, embodying the most positive physical characteristics that Canada would want to see in their heroes (10-15). These characteristics used to positively depict Canadians can be seen in other stories throughout this edition; including Chick Tucker, written and illustrated by Alfred Zusi, Ace Bradley, written and illustrated by Harry Thomson, and Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon, Part 2, written and illustrated by Adrian Dingle. These depictions of the Canadian heroes illicit a sense of nationalism within Canadians, for they are handsome, tough and embody everything Canadians want to see in both their heroes and within themselves.

In stark contrast to the way in which the Canadian heroes were depicted in the Commando Comics, the vilified nations of Japan and Germany were made to look like unintelligent and crude barbarians who were much inferior to the Canadians who always thwarted them. In one of the Bell Features comics, Hitler is portrayed as illiterate fool, speaking in a bad mix of English and German to the people of Germany; “Peoples of der Reichtag, ve haff been informed through der Gestapo that John Canuck is now in der country … he must be found! I vill giff 10,000 marks for him…dead or alive!!” (Heet).  This portrays the Germans as illiterate and intellectually inferior to Canadians and the allied nations. Furthermore, in the 15th issue of Commando Comics, in the story Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon , the Japanese hiss when they pronounce their ‘s’’s, as shown in the image below (Dingle 6).

Dingle, Adrian. Panel from “The Young Commandos.” Commando comics. No. 15, January 1945, Commercial Signs of Canada, p. 13. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Likewise in The Invisible Commando, they cannot form full sentences (Bachle 35). This further perpetuates the idea that the German and Japanese are not only evil, dangerous enemies, but that they are illiterate making them intellectually inferior to the Allies. These crude depictions of the Japanese and Germans seen throughout the 15th edition of Commando Comics not only portray them as unintelligent illiterates, but they also portray the people of those nations as scary, ugly men. In The Young Commandos, Jerry Lazare draws the villain Kato Aomori as a thick headed, buck toothed man who is losing his hair in patches (12). In Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon, the Japanese villains are depicted as larger men, with hunched over almost buffoonish stances, with bucked teeth and thick necks (Dingle 4-5). These portrayals emphasize the widespread notion during WWII that the Japanese were not only inferior to the Allies in warfare and intellectual standing, but also in physical appearance. This comic book helped perpetuate the propagandistic notion that the Allied nation’s enemy was inferior to them in every way.

 

 

“YELLOW PERIL”; FEAR & DETAINMENT OF JAPANESE- CANADIANS

These notions of Japanese inferiority that the Canadian Whites –including Commando Comics– perpetuated helped give rise to anti Japanese sentiment that was beginning to fester in Canada during the latter half of World War II. In British Columbia the racist colour metaphor know as “Yellow Peril” began to rise, and in 1942 the Canadian government started to detain and dispose of any people of Japanese descent living there. Racism towards the Japanese in Canada was not unheard of before their detainment; laws in British Columbia had previously prevented Japanese peoples from working in mines, from voting and excluded any whom the people of British Columbia declared to be an ‘undesirable’ from being involved with any project funded by the province (Marsh). On December 7th 1941, following attacks on Pearl Harbor and bombings in Hong Kong where Canadian troops were stationed, fears of the Japanese and a possible invasion became heightened throughout Canada, giving rise to their distrust of the Japanese. Japanese schools and newspapers were subsequently shut down, and 1,200 Japanese-owned fishing boats were impounded by the Royal Canadian Navy (Marsh).

The racist sentiments held towards the Japanese people were in full effect after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and propaganda such as the Commando Comics only furthered the Canadians’ belief that the Japanese were crude monsters who deserved to be feared and detained. Because of these fears, on February 24th 1942, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie issued an order to remove “any and all persons” in the country; although those orders were ambiguous enough to allow the detention of any person, the specific target of the issue was the Japanese Canadians, specifically along the West Coast (Marsh). The British Columbia Security Commission was soon established with the purpose of carrying out Japanese internment, and on March 16th the first Japanese Canadians were taken by special trains that brought them to Hastings Park, where eventually more than 8,000 detainees would pass through (Marsh).

The anti-Japanese racism was not solely confined to British Columbia, but was spread throughout Canada during WWII. By the end of WWII, over 90 % of Japanese Canadians had been uprooted and displaced and sent to internment camps such as the one seen in the image below. By the end of the war over 21 000 people, most of whom were Canadian citizens by birth, had been interned (Marsh). By the end of the war, Prime Minister King did not show any remorse for the way he and his government had been treating the Japanese Canadians, instead giving them an ultimatum; to move to Japan or to spread to the provinces east of the Rocky Mountains (Marsh).

“Japanese Interment Camp in British Columbia.” Photograph. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Ideas that are espoused in Commando Comics issue 15, helped give rise and distribute these extreme anti- Japanese sentiments throughout Canada during WWII. By maintaining that the Japanese were barbaric monsters who were inferior to the Canadians and the Allied Nations in every way, Canadian citizens began to see Japanese Canadians as the crude monsters they were depicted as. Major-General Kenneth Stuart, who served Canada in both World War I and II, wrote that “from the army point of view, I cannot see that Japanese Canadians constitute the slightest menace to national security” (Marsh). Despite those who advocated for the Japanese-Canadians and against the treatment they were receiving from the Canadian government during WWII, Escott Reid who was a Canadian diplomat during the war, said that Canadian politicians due to their rage towards and fear of the Japanese, spoke about them in the way that the Nazis spoke about the Jewish people of Germany. Reid stated, “When they spoke I felt… the physical presence of evil” (Marsh). There was already an anti-Japanese sentiment on the rise throughout Canada during the onset of WWII, and propaganda such as Commando Comics issue 15 only furthered this racist, biased position by distributing crudely drawn and illiterate representations of the Japanese people.

 

 

RESURGENCE OF GERMAN-PHOBIC IDEALS THROUGHOUT CANADA

Issue no. 15 of Commando Comics not only depicts Japanese people as inferior, but it also portrays the Germans as evil,  uneducated villains as well. In Loop The Droop written and illustrated by Harry Brunt, Hitler is depicted as a bumbling buffoon, who scares easily and spends his days in fear of the United Nations. At one point he is waiting around in Berchtesgaden, speaking in a mangled mixture of German and English; “I vunder vot der United Nations haff up dere sleeves now? (sigh)… Diss zuzbenz iz driving me grazy- my nerves iss all on edge!” (Brunt 55-56). This depiction of Germany’s leader, speaking English whilst alone with a poor German accent, perpetuates the notion that Germans are foolish and cannot speak properly making them intellectually inferior to Canadians. Propaganda such as this contributed to German-phobic sentiments during WWII because Canadians were being shown not to fear the Germans, for they were simply scaredy-cats and bumbling idiots.

Anti-German sentiments such as this were present before WWII, and were widespread throughout Canada. In World War I for example, an extreme backlash against the Germans and all things German became prominent within Canada. Public schools removed any German curricula from their schools; orchestras refused to play German compositions; and in Winnipeg residents went as far as to change the name ‘hamburger’ to nip so that any association with Germany and the enemy language was eradicated (Anti-German Sentiment). Furthermore, a small town named Berlin in Ontario that was home to many German Canadian citizens became the focus of unease after avid patriots removed a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I from the centre of the town. In the hopes of eliciting nationalistic feelings the town committee changed its name to Kitchener in 1916 (Anti-German Sentiment).

These fears and concerns were being perpetuated through the use of anti-German propaganda. From the beginning of WWI most Canadians demonized the enemy, believing stories from overseas of supposed German war-crimes and accepting without question fabricated German atrocities. The war propaganda being perpetuated throughout Canada convinced Canadians of the Germans’ barbarity and reinforced stereotypes that intentionally obscured the line between fact and fiction (Anti-German Sentiment). This propaganda soon referred to German Kultur as “a damning insult, a predisposition for war, cruelty, and destructiveness” (Anti-German Sentiment). This stamp on German culture placed the Germans outside of a community of civilized nations, depicting them as barbaric and inferior. While Commando Comics issue no. 15 may not reach this level of severity towards the Germans, it still helped perpetuate notions that the Germans were not only inherently evil villains, but also intellectually inferior and therefore easy to defeat in battle.

Despite the work of ‘revisionist’ scholars who labored tirelessly to reconstruct the way Germany was seen by the Western World post WWI, there was a permanent Germanphobic view that resided deep in the minds of the Westerners (Connors). During WWII these deep-set views were called upon and exploited by writers who espoused Germanphobic literature and propaganda that was worse than that of WWI (Connors). Propaganda such as Commando Comics.  Anti-German –which is distinct from anti-Nazi– views were given wide publicity by anti-German newspapers and were espoused with such enthusiasm that it was hard to not believe that all of the Germans were solely responsible for WWII (Connors).  Even a distinguished professor and writer from Australia who was known for being impartial wrote:

“The Germans are a politically retarded race. They are still in the “myth” stage of development … The Germans have never wanted democracy; they crave for authority, and respect the strong arm. They do not want individual freedom … The average German would much rather salute a uniform than have a vote … The German is designed by history and nature to provide mass material for dictatorship.” (Connors)

Harsh, unrelenting propaganda such as this, caused Canadians and other Allied nations to look down upon the Germans and regard them as inferior; intellectually, politically and in every other sense of the word. Anti-German propaganda became widespread throughout not only Canada, but in Britain, Australia and the United states as well, reaching extreme proportions (Connors). In the 15th issue of Commando Comics, depicting  the Germans as buffoonish clowns who are afraid of their own shadows and who cannot form proper sentences, only further perpetuated these Germanphobic sentiments within Canada. This ultimately  caused Canada to not simply fear the Germans, but to mock and loath an entire supposed, barbaric nation.

 

IN CONCLUSION

The 15th edition of Commando Comics’ underlying propagandistic tones, perpetuated anti-Japanese and Germanphobic sentiments throughout Canada during WWII. Comic books, meant to delight and entertain are almost always nationalist allegories, and Commando  Comics no.15  is no exception. With heroic, handsome depictions of Canadian heroes thwarting crude and barbaric portrayals of the enemy, Canadians began to believe that they were not only instrumental in defeating the Nazis and the Japanese, but that they were far more superior than their enemies.  By portraying an entire nation as intellectually and physically inferior, Commando Comics issue no.15 helped contribute and give rise to racist sentiments that became prominent within Canada during World War II.

 

 

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WORKS CITED

“Anti-German Sentiment.” Enemy Aliens: Anti-German Sentiment, Canada and the First World War, Canadian War Museum. http://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-home-during-the-war/enemy-

 

Bachle, Leo (w, a). “The Invisible Commando.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 30-35. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Bell, John. “Comic Books in English Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 7 Feb. 2006, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/comic-books-in-english-canada/. Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

 

Brunt, Harry (w, a). “Loop the Droop.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 55-56. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Connors, Michael F. “Dealing in Hate: The Development of Anti-German Propaganda.” Institute for Historical Review. http://ihr.org/books/connors/dealinginhate.shtml#pgfId-540

 

Dingle, Adrian (w, a). “Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon Pt. 2.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 1-7. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Heet, Jeer. “POW! BLAM! ZOWIE! Eh?” Literary Review of Canada, vol. 75, no.5, June 2007. http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2007/06/pow-blam-zowie-eh/. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.

 

Lazare, Jerry (w, a). “The Young Commandos.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 10-15. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

 Marsh, James H. “Japanese Internment: Banished and Beyond Tears.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 23 Feb. 2012,  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/japanese-internment-banished-and-beyond-tears-feature/.  Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

 

Thomson, Harry (w, a). “Ace Bradley.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 43-49. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Zusi, Alfred (w, a). “Chick Tucker.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 37-42. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

 

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

 

Visual Propaganda in Commando Comics Issue 13

© Copyright 2017 Deanna Bucco, Ryerson University

Introduction

When one thinks of comic books, what almost immediately comes to mind are children. Cheaply made, with storylines of superheroes and “funnies”, intellectual adults are rarely associated with such trivialities. However, if one were to analyze a comic book more closely, much can be revealed about the creators, readers, and society during the time of production. This information can be revealed not only from the narrative of the comics, but also from the visual styles and illustrations throughout a comic collection as a whole. When looking at Canada’s comic book collection, specifically those produced in the 1940s, it is apparent that comic books can also be seen as war memories. WWII was a turbulent time for Canada as well as the comic book industry, which ultimately led to the birth of the “First Age of Canadian Comics” after Canadian parliament declared the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) which restricted American comic books from being imported into Canada (Kocmarek 148-149). These Canadian Whites–named for being printed in mostly black and white–focused on Canadian superheroes and content. In Issue 13 of Bell Features’ Commando Comics (1944), one of the Canadian Whites, the main focus of each feature is the war against the Nazis and the Japanese. The celebrated “superheroes” are regular Canadian soldiers, rather than individuals with superpowers. Each feature is written and designed by various creators and the visual styles are all vastly different; however, their underlying themes appear to remain the same. Upon closer examination of the two features in Commando Comics Issue 13, “The Young Commandos” by Jerry Lazare and “Professor Punk” by Harry Brunt, it can be seen that different visual and illustrative styles are used to convey meaning to readers through the way the stories appear on the page. Although “The Young Commandos” is drawn in a more realistic visual style and “Professor Punk” is drawn in a humorous cartoon style, messages of propaganda can be deciphered from each feature both overtly, as well as through closer examination of the subtext revealed through the images.

Illustrative Elements Speak Louder Than Words

There are many visual styles and elements employed in the design of comic books that shape the meaning of the images that surround the narrative. Sometimes images are presented on their own without text, which provides a direct and bold statement to the reader. In comic books, the use of design elements such as page layout, panel shape and size, arrangement, and page placement contribute to the pacing of the narrative, which ultimately evokes tension and emotions through each scene (Jakaitis and Wurtz 211). For example, larger panels will draw a reader’s eyes quicker than smaller panels, oddly shaped panels will stand out as important, action that bleeds through the gutter from one panel to the next will create a feeling of fast paced anxiety or action that cannot be contained, and actions that are drawn out across multiple panels in moment to moment action sequences will prolong the tension of a scene. In reaction to war themed comics, these illustrative displays grow to be very meaningful. The manipulation of the combination of images and text imparts different value systems–here referring to political beliefs–and can create propaganda within the illustrative content both overtly and covertly (Jakaitis and Wurtz 130). This idea of comic book illustrative style as propaganda is evident in both “The Young Commandos” and “Professor Punk”.

The Film Noir Style and Canadian Attitudes in “The Young Commandos”

“The Young Commandos” (TYC) is a short, continuing feature that focuses on a group of young soldiers who work together to capture a Nazi spy who they then use to also trick and capture his Nazi leader (Lazare 14-19). This feature appears as the third sequence in the issue, and when compared to other features within the comic, it can be seen that TYC has a very distinct visual style.

Two page sequence of a chase scene from the Commando Comics feature "The Young Commandos"
Figure 1: Lazare, Jerry. Sequence from “The Young Commandos”. Commando Comics, No. 13, September 1944, p. 16-17. Bell Features Collection, RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

This six page feature is drawn in a realistic, Film Noir storyboard style and includes different scenes and angles that would typically be used in movies. If referring to Figure 1, some visual film techniques such as close ups of faces, chase sequences spanning multiple panels with different angles of a car, and medium shots of static action such as dialogue can be seen. The feature is drawn in a complex story layout in which the panels are all different sizes and arranged in changing layouts on each page, such as in Figure 1. Throughout the feature, the action from one frame will even bleed through the gutter (the space in between frames) and extend into the next frame. This can be seen in Figure 1 in both the fifth panel where the villain’s leg extends past the gutter back into the fourth panel, and in the seventh panel where one of the Young Commando’s arm extends across the gutter into the next panel. Here readers experience a sense of urgency in the action which is too grand to be contained in a single frame.

The Film Noir visual style is an important aspect to note in its use in TYC since it emerged as a prominent film genre in the 1940s at the same time Bell Features began to make the Canadian Whites (Conrad 1). Film Noir makes use of dark, negative space and plays with lighting to create interesting shadows that change the intensity and mood of each scene (Conrad 2-3). In Figure 1, we can see this technique of dark, negative space being employed, especially in the close-up panels as a way of heightening tension and the emotion of the character in the panel. Film Noir also deals heavily with themes of disorientation, alienation, pessimism, and a rejection of traditional ideas about morality (Conrad 7). These are the same attitudes that were commonly felt and broadcasted by the Canadian population during the Second World War. This is further highlighted in an article from The Globe and Mail on December 4, 1941, when B. A. Trestrail, president of the Canadian Radio Corporation, announced that 90% of Canadian attitudes toward the war were those of complete detachment and apathy (Globe and Mail 4). The article ends as a call to arms for Canadians to show more interest and exert more effort toward the war, a message that is also evident in TYC.

“The Young Commandos” as Propaganda

True to the Film Noir style, all of the frames in TYC contain a lot of black, negative space which creates drama within the images. We also see characters’ faces shadowed in different ways depending on the tone of the scene. The images themselves; however, are very heroic which is in conflict and a direct rejection of the typical film noir style. In Figure 1, for example, we see our Canadian heroes engaging in a chase scene and gallantly pursuing their enemy, which makes them come across as very bold and determined, rather than apathetic and disassociated. The contrast between the valiant action in the feature and the Film Noir style is subconsciously hinting at readers that they too can rise above the pessimistic and apathetic attitudes and fight to be more heroic and patriotic. These characters aim to instill patriotism and build support on the home front during a time of crisis as well as aim to inspire children to want to fight for their country (Scott 54). Since TYC urges patriotism and heroism it can be read as a piece of propaganda. Here, propaganda refers to anything that attempts to influence the public’s opinion, as well as attempts to affect later behaviour, including actions toward the war. The purpose is not exactly to properly educate the population on events, but rather to change or solidify attitudes, behaviours, and ideologies (Seidman 414). If TYC is aiming to change Canadian attitudes toward the war and encouraging Canadians to be more patriotic and involved in the war effort, then it is in fact propaganda, but can the same be said for “Professor Punk”?

Action to Action: The Illustrative Style of “Professor Punk”

Two page feature called "Professor Punk" from Commando Comics - a crazy professor fills bomb shells with termites
Figure 2: Brunt, Harry.“Professor Punk”. Commando Comics, No. 13, September 1944, p. 20-21. Bell Features Collection, RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

“Professor Punk” appears as the fourth feature in Issue 13, directly following TYC. We immediately see a drastic shift in visual styles. Rather than the realistic human facial features and film-like storyboard quality of the illustrative style in TYC, “Professor Punk” appears as a two-dimensional humorous cartoon. “Professor Punk” is a very short, two page feature that focuses on a crazy professor who is asked to create a new type of bomb for the war. He decides to fill bomb shells with termites instead of explosive material so the termites will eat Berlin to the ground rather than burn it (Brunt 20-21). Although this feature still focuses on the war, it is more comedic than TYC and has a much less serious tone. Also unlike TYC, all of the action in “Professor Punk” is contained within the panels without ever bleeding over the gutter into the next frame. As seen in Figure 2, the gutters in “Professor Punk” are much smaller than those in TYC which creates a feeling of less time passed between frames and less tension between actions. Figure 2 also displays the employment of the simple story layout technique through the ten panels that are all of the same shape and size, consisting of static, medium, or wide shots. The feature is free of action sequences that are prevalent in TYC. Each panel is simply drawn in a way that furthers the narrative in an action to action sequence, never lingering on or going back to any one action. In a visual style so different from that of Film Noir, can “Professor Punk” also be read as propaganda?

“Professor Punk” as Propaganda

The Canadian comic books that emerged during WWII were also used as a tool to enlighten younger or less educated readers about current and historical events (Scott 54). On the surface, this feature does not appear to be a piece of propaganda; however, once examined closer, elements of propaganda can be deciphered. While the feature is humorous and engaging, it also enlightens readers that there is a war going on and Berlin is one of the enemies. The lighter, less intense tone, as well as brighter images in comparison to TYC, makes the content easier for young readers to relate to since it is simplified. This can be seen in Figure 2 where the action of dropping bombs is contained in only one frame and the violent destruction that bombs usually cause is instead reduced to the less destructive image of termites eating away at Berlin. This drastically downplays the act of violent destruction. Oversimplification is a key factor for propaganda through the act of playing on the emotions of viewers and readers by presenting them with something visually appealing and easy to relate to or understand (Seidman 414). While “Professor Punk” is funny and engaging, it also contains serious images relating to the war, such as the subtle image of Hitler in panel one in Figure 2 (where his name is never actually stated) and the poster in Professor Punk’s office in panels three and ten urging readers to “Buy More Bonds” (Brunt 21-22). Subconsciously, readers are taking in this visual information and forming opinions of the war based on it; however, this form of propaganda can be useful. It is said that those who do not understand the past are doomed to repeat it. Comic books are an efficient way of disseminating a message to the relatively uninformed masses and the sooner history is instilled in the minds of children, even subconsciously, the better chance they have of correcting those wrongs in the future (Scott 16). Although the message in “Professor Punk” can also carry positive undertones, the feature can still be read as a propaganda piece.

Conclusion

While the Canadian Whites emerged as a response to the banning of American comic books, they were effectively able to provided young readers with entertainment as well as important information on the war through a medium that was easy to understand and relatable to younger readers. Through differing visual styles and the arrangement of images, both “The Young Commandos”and “Professor Punk” are effectively able to convey meaning to readers through the way the stories appear on the page. Although “The Young Commandos” is drawn in a more realistic visual style and “Professor Punk” is drawn in a humorous cartoon style, messages of propaganda are present in both features both overtly and covertly, ultimately suggesting that the Commando Comics were used as a way of influencing readers to be more patriotic and essentially want to fight to protect their country, just like their favourite heroes from The Canadian Whites.

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Works Cited

Brunt, Harry. “Professor Punk.” Commando Comics, no. 13, September, 1944, p. 20-21. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Conard, Mark T., and Robert Porfirio. The Philosophy of Film Noir. Paperback ed., Lexington, UP of Kentucky, 2007.

The Globe and Mail. “WAR EFFORT, PARTY POLITICS ARE DENOUNCED: B. A. Trestrail Blasts Attitude of Canadian People as a Whole POINTS TO APATHY.” Globe and Mail [Toronto], 4 Dec. 1941. ProQuest Historical Newspapers, ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1356324368?accountid=13631.

Jakaitis, Jake, and James Wurtz. Crossing Boundaries in Graphic Narrative. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/lib/ryerson/reader.action?docID=876782&ppg=220.

Kocmarek, Ivan. “Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way: The War-Time Comics of Bell Features Publications.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne De Littérature Comparée, vol. 43, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 148-65. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/crc.2016.0008.

Lazare, Jerry. “The Young Commandos.” Commando Comics, no. 13, September, 1944, p. 14-19. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Scott, Cord A. Comics and Conflict. Naval Institute Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/lib/ryerson/detail.action?docID=1577594.

Seidman, Steven A. “Studying Election Campaign Posters and Propaganda: What Can We Learn?” International Journal of Instructional Media, vol. 35, no. 4, Fall 2008, pp. 413-26. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=rpu_main&id=GALE%7CA273359031&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&authCount=1.

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Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.

The Boy’s Own Annual: Deception And Propaganda In Children’s, War-Time Literature

© 2014 David Eatock

The Boy's Own Annual, volume 37 front cover. Boy's Own Paper 1915
The Boy’s Own Annual, volume 37 front cover. Boy’s Own Paper 1915

The Boy’s Own Annual, is a periodical that ran from 1879-1967 comprised of what are deemed the best works submitted to their monthly issues throughout a given year. The publication is aimed at the audience of young boys and the stories range from adventure tales, to slice of life high school sagas, to war stories. The issue that will be given specific focus in this analysis is number 37, comprised of works released between the years of 1914-1915. While the Annual is a revered publication for both its long-standing history and its immense popularity during the time in which it was released, this analysis will not be focused on justifying its relevance or documenting the exhilarating thrills it gave its young readers, instead the aim of this article is to unearth the subtext found within its pages and the way that it strings together a complex narrative that misleads and conditions its readers. While the stories are for the most part well written and on a surface level may seem harmless in regards to the time period in which they were produced, when one looks further they see that the blatant Orientalism, the concerted downplay of the dangers of war and the instillment of nationalistic pride and focus on sports serve the purpose of grooming young boys into willing soldiers.

Orientalism And Linking Narratives

The first aspect of The Annual that will be addressed is the blatant and thorough orientalizing of African cultures and people. The most blatant act of Orientalism appears in the serialized story “In The Power Of The Pygmies” written by Charles Gilson. In this story there are constant depictions of pygmies, which are presumed to be Africans, as savage, uncivilized monsters who pose a great threat to the cordial, English way of living. In the opening segments of the story the pygmies shoot poison darts and gnaw at the wrists of Englishmen, as depicted in the picture, taken from The Annual, below. 

From "In The Power Of The Pygmies."
From “In The Power Of The Pygmies.”

It is important to distinguish why a story like this is written, aside from penning a tale for children depicting a culture far removed from their own. In Edward De Said’d famed book, “Orientalism,” he asserts that, “The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe” (Edward De Said, Orientalism, 71). In looking at a story such as “In The Power Of The Pygmies” in conjunction with the assertions of De Said we see that what is created for young audiences is a sensationalized, subversive depiction of African cultures, totally created by European powers.

What is important though is less the specific culture being depicted and more so the ethos pervaded by the act of Orientalizing. What stories such as this teach children through their subtext is that foreign cultures are inferior and hostile and that they must be tamed. This thought is depicted further in other articles in The Annual, such as one entitled “Empire Citizens” which beings with a recollection of Rudyard Kipling’s, “The White Man’s Burden” to which the writer responds “But does the Britain complain of this? No; on the contrary, he is proud of it. He loves to think that he is a citizen of no mean empire, that his flag flies on every sea and waves over every continent… To govern and control, wisely and well, a hundred other races.” (The Boy’s Own Annual, Empire Citizens, 36). The firm nationalism promoted by this sentence is problematic in connection to the Orientalism depicted in “In The Power Of The Pygmies” as segments such as the photo depicting the African biting the wrist of the Englishmen pervade the thought that the pygmies are a risk to the civilized English way of life. So, if Britain is as vast and powerful as the quote states, if it is so great that it is entitled to “govern and control, wisely and well, a hundred other races,” than logically the pygmies are in need of European domination and governance.

The Africans, or pygmies as Gilson calls them, were obviously not a civilization that was prominent in the English consciousness in regards to the war of the time. The nation that was more prominent in regards to conflict with Britain in this era would be Germany and The Annual also features unflattering depictions of them. In a scene from the editor of The Annual Arthur Lincoln Haydon’s story “For England And The Right,” a German teacher ordered to teach young English students refers to them as “thick headed, ignorant English boys” (Boy’s Own Annual, 257).

While this is fitting with the adversarial personality of the character, if we link this with “In The Power Of The Pygmies” we can see that a similar idea is being produced. In Gilson’s story the pygmies betray the nationalistic pride that is conveyed in something like the aforementioned “Empire Citizens,” and as such they must be governed and controlled. So, to connect the three narratives in the order of “Empire Citizens,” “In The Power Of The Pygmies,” and lastly, “For England And The Right”; Britain is a great nation that has the right to rule over others and when a nation disrespects or is dangerous to the British way of life they must be controlled. Germany is disrespecting the British way of life, so by the logic put forth by the other two stories Germans must also be controlled. This shows the multi-faceted nature in which these texts convey meaning and as the pygmies are an easy way to imbue otherness through being complete opposites to the British, the acts of Orientalizing help to plant an idea within the readers head so that it can later be manifested in reference to the true militaristic enemy of the time, that being Germany.

Sports And Soldier Grooming

Sports and athleticism are also an interesting facet of The Annual in the way that they are used to shape young boys. For instance in an article entitled “Football And War” the writer states that, “War is the serious, vital thing of which all our games of antagonstics are but imitations: imitations designed in part by way of amusement and recreation, but also essentially as part of the process for preparing the individual, as a mode of training and hardening him, for the real, grim business of warfare,” (Boy’s Own Annual, 95). This quote paired with the incessant focus on sports within The Annual shows how the periodical did not disguise its use of sports as institutionalized imperialism. Another quote to give further depth to the sports commentary can be found in the article “My Views On Halfback Play” where the writer states that “As in the case of most games, to achieve success a start must be made early.” (Boy’s Own Annual, 127).

If we link the messages of these two texts we see what is being conveyed is that children should start playing sports early and as such they should also start their development as soldiers early, if sports are, as the text states, preparation for the business of warfare. For further insight into the claims of propaganda in stories such as this, in a book entitled “The First World War” written by Ian Mackinnon and David Bell they state that countries would “self-mobilize” and that they would often run absurdly patriotic stories (Mackinnon, Bell, Ian, David The First World War, 29). Sports stories such as these are a example of the absurd patriotism noted in this book, as what are often times seen as mere leisurely past-times are being manipulated into war grooming tools. As such, it is not out of the question, in fact, it is probable to think that most of the sports stories featured in The Annual at this time were serving the purpose explicitly stated in the story, “Football And War.”

War Danger Minimized And Public Perception As An Issue

Another area of particular intrigue is how war is depicted in The Annual, that being, in a way where the dangers of war are greatly minimized by the stories and articles. For example, in an article entitled “Piloting, The Royal Flying Corps” a great deal of time is devoted to qualities of the pilots such as the amount of honor they receive or the amount of pay and the article even goes so far as to explicitly state that the pilots do not have much of a role in fighting and as such they are not in particular danger (Boy’s Own Annual, 33-36). The one line in the article that does insinuate the danger for war pilots is at the very end of the article when the writer says, “The toll of the reaper is heavy,” but this line is immediately followed by “There will be many gaps to fill in the ranks of those who have acquitted themselves so nobly,” (Boy’s Own Annual, 33-36).  As such we see the danger here is only present in order to show that it is essential that more young people enlist.

The concept of danger, or lacktherof, is also spearheaded by the aforementioned “In The Power Of The Pygmies” as though the Englishmen are faced with innumerable conflicts in the wake of being captures by pygmies, they aways resolve said conflicts with ease and there is never a point where it does not feel like they will prevail. For instance, after an Englishmen escapes his captives the pygmies are shot down with ease (In The Power Of The Pygmies, 208, 206-216).

Further downplay of danger is pervaded in the images of the text, most notably a photograph of English soldiers drinking tea in a German dug out.

Image from The Boy's Own Annual depicting English soldiers in a dug out
Image from The Boy’s Own Annual depicting English soldiers in a dug out

While in a publication printed for young boys photos of atrocities would of course not be featured, this particular image portrays the war as something leisurely and altogether safe. This is absurdly misleading and when paired with other articles written in The Annual it puts forth a dangerously deceptive message to its readers.

Though perhaps not intentionally misleading, there are also problems created through how readers and reviewers document works such as The Annual. For example, in a book called “Take A Cold Tub, Sir!” former editor of The Annual Jack Cox repeats phrases such as “The vigorous and racy tales delighted many generations” continually (Cox, Jack Take A Cold Tub, Sir! 34). In another book written by Dennis Butts and Pat Garret entitled “From The Dairyman’s Daughter To Worrals of the WAAF,” The Boy’s Own Annual is chronicled in speaking of its readership, the multitude of audiences in which its content could reach and the general popularity of the text (Butts, Garret, Dennis, Pat, From The Dairyman’s Daughter To Worrals Of The WAAF, 133-145) and also a Spectator review of The Annual from 1889 only states that it contains thrilling adventure stories that could entertain either boys or girls (Anon, The Girl’s Own Annual And The Boy’s Own Annual, 669).

The issue with reviews and documentation such as this is that they ignore the ramifications that certain stories and articles have on the reader and on culture. Furthermore, they pervade the sense that the content of stories in The Annual such as “In The Power The Pygmies” are without subtext or cultural commentary, rather they are just vapid, exciting entertainment for one to read on their spare time. This is a dangerous practice as it should be well known that there is always thematic relevance and undertones to stories and this is perhaps a reason for the power of war time propaganda and even propaganda of our own time. Reading is seen as a fun distraction, especially when stories are tailor made for young boys and as such the messages imbued within stories containing blatant Orientalism, misrepresentations of war and sports articles with clear, ulterior motives, such as those contained within The Boy’s Own Annual, are ignored by the public as their effects rub off on the youthful readers.


Bibliography

Butts, Dennis and Pat Garret. From The Dairyman’s Daughter To Worrals of the WAAF: The Religious Tract Society, Lutterworth Press and Children’s Literature. Cambridge: Lutterworth 2006. 137-144. Print

Cawood, Ian, and David Mckinnon Bell The First World War. London: Routledge, 2001. Print

Cox, Jack. Take A Cold Tub, Sir!: The Story Of The Boy’s Own Paper. Guildford, Surrey, England: Lutterworth, 1982. Print

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979. Print.

Haydon, Arthur Lincoln, The Boy’s Own Annual. 1st ed Vol. 37. London: Boy’s Own Paper Office, 1915. Print.

Anon: The Girl’s Own Annual And The Boy’s Own Annual. The Spectator 16 Nov. 1889: 669, Google Books Database