Tag Archives: WOW Comics

On Paper and The Front Lines: WWII Heroes in Relation to Wow Comics no. 15

Introduction

The Second World War produced a great number of heroes including soldiers who fought to protect their country, along with mothers and children who supported the soldiers from the home front. At the same time, comics were produced on the home front by new Canadian publishers, eager to provide content to Canadians who no longer had access to those from Canada’s primary trade partner. In his book, Invaders from the North, John Bell describes the comic medium as an “ultimate form of communication” (15), one that was able to convey to young readers during World War II an image of what a hero resembles. These heroes were provided to children to mirror the soldiers who fought for them in WWII. In Wow Comics No. 15, the fictional heroes produced during the golden age of comics demonstrate the patriotic, selfless and courageous traits of the real heroes of WWII, as depicted by Whiz Wallace, Crash Carson, and Dart Daring.

Origins of Canadian Comics

Canadian comic books flourished during the Second World War. After the outbreak of the war, the War Exchange Conservation Act was established in December of 1940 to strength the Canadian dollar and to protect the economy. It restricted all non-essential goods from being imported from the United States, including comic books (Bell, Invaders 43). As a result, an influx of publishers entered the industry, and they began creating Canadian comics without competition from American content. They produced the “Canadian Whites”, which were known for their coloured covered and black and white pages. These comics were produced at an expedited pace in order to fill the gap that was now present in the Canadian industry.

In late 1942, a comic book titled Canadian Heroes was created by Educational Projects of Montreal to provide “more wholesome and edifying fare” for children (Bell, Canuck Comics, 26). It was an informative comic that featured profiles of political leaders in Canada, such as Prime Ministers, governor generals, and RCMP cases. Eventually, publishers “came to realize that Canadian children had developed an appetite for somewhat more thrilling narratives” (Bell Invaders 50). They then began to create additional content of fictional Canadian heroes, which provided children their very own set of heroes to look up to. They paved the way for other publishers to use reality as inspiration for their heroic protagonists during this bleak period in Canadian history.

Cy Bell, his brother Gene, and Edmund Legault produced the adventure comic, Wow Comics. During the 1930s, the brothers owned an art firm by the name of Commercial Signs of Canada. After hearing of the ban on comic books, Cy Bell contacted Legault, who had previously shown interest in working on a comic book together, and they began producing Wow (Bell, Invaders 48). The first issue was very successful, selling nearly 50, 000 copies (Bell 25). John Bell observes, “at no time since have English Canadian children grown up with such a wide array of indigenous heroes and superheroes” (Invaders 54). The comics provided a source of heroes for the children, motivating them to support the war effort.

Heroes on The Front Lines

During World War Two, heroes were not only fictional; the war was a catalyst that produced selfless individuals, who were patriotic towards their country and courageous in fighting for a safer nation. Of the Canadian servicemen who fought, very few had experience in the military prior to the war (Engen 25). Many individuals who came to serve in the war became known as “citizen soldiers,” as they were amateur combatants who usually had volunteered for the war effort (Engen 34). They were seen as superior to those who were conscripted as a belief was held that “citizens should provide their own defence” (Engen 34). Citizens were encouraged to join the war effort on their own account, without being required to do so.

Individuals who volunteered for the war were much more revered than those who were conscripted. The soldiers who served overseas, were almost all volunteers; Canada had the second largest all volunteer field force, after Britain, during the war (Engen 33). For most of the war, those who were conscripted remained on the home front, ready to fight for the defence of the country. The National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA) was issued in 1940 in order to provide defence for Canada. The soldiers “mobilized” under this act were not required to serve overseas, at least not for the majority of the war (Engen 33). It was thought that only soldiers who had volunteered of their own free will should serve overseas.

Many soldiers who did sign up to serve were the children of veterans of World War One. These soldiers were influenced to volunteer because of their family connections to war and the pressure to serve (Engen 30). In Strangers in Arms, Robert Engen describes a soldier named Charles “Chuck” Daniel Lloyd, whose father had served and died in the First World War, and whose older brother had been a peacetime militiaman (Engen 37). Although the soldier’s reasons for joining the war were not recorded, Engen theorizes that his family connections with war were a cause for him joining the war effort. Lloyd joined his brother in the Hastings & Prince Edward Regiment of the militia and together they enlisted upon the declaration of war in 1939 (Engen 37). Lloyd, who died in 1943, was an example of an individual who was motivated by past generations, and who no doubt influenced the next generation of soldiers.

Among the real-life heroes of the war, was an individual who saved a small Dutch town, called Wilnis, from harmful destruction. On May 4, 1943, Warrant Officer Robert Moulton set off with almost 600 bombers for a raid on Dortmund Germany (Wattie 2). Upon turning home, his plane was attacked by a German bomber and began to burn (Wattie 2). As it descended, he instructed his four crew members to eject, though only two of them were able to parachute to safety (Wattie 2). Witnesses reported that Warrant Officer Moulton’s bomber was directed at their village, but suddenly banked away from it (Wattie 2). Moulton demonstrated selflessness as he sacrificed his life for the lives of the civilians in the town. According to one captain, “this still has a great impression on the citizens; In their mind, Moulton was a hero” (2). Volunteers like Lloyd and Moulton demonstrate the attributes that Wow Comics sought to illustrate to children through the fictional heroes they created. In demonstrating these characteristics, the comics were preparing the soldiers of the next by presenting them with the heroes and roles models they needed to look up to. They sought to raise the next generation of soldiers, modelled on the fictional characters of the comic.

Heroes on Paper

In Wow Comics no. 15, the heroic protagonists demonstrate selflessness, patriotism and courage in an effort to teach children the exemplary qualities they should exhibit. In “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demon,” Whiz Wallace and Elaine are travelling through the desert, trying to reach ‘El Frasher. When Elaine expresses her concerns for their lengthy journey, Whiz Wallace reassures her by saying “Courage, Elaine!” and offers her a cooling drink to refresh her. They are confronted by a group of wild horsemen who plan on stealing their horses, and Elaine. Whiz selflessly attacks some of the men, even though he is outnumbered and unarmed. He attacks them, using only his fists, while the desert men have large knives and guns. Though he fights heroically, he is eventually overpowered.

Whiz Wallace is tied up by the desert men, while Elaine is restrained. As Elaine is pleading for their lives, a unit of German bombers fly overhead and notice the desert men, “Himmel! Two white people is being tortured by desert savages!” (Legault 17). They decide to rescue the two from the desert men, and then take them as prisoners of war. Even when facing more danger, Whiz remains heroic and brave. The Nazis who capture them declare that their Fuehrer has a plan of invasion, and will strike soon. Whiz counters “All I have to say is, your Fuehrer better not be too sure of himself!” (Legault 19).  Whiz is portrayed as confident in his country’s ability to defeat the Nazis, even though he is being detained by them. He exhibits heroic qualities that illustrate to children to be courageous and selfless in order to protect others, and support their country.

In “Crash Carson and His Devil’s Angels,” Crash Carson is fearless and courageous as he takes on Nazis and German bombers. Carson and two other soldiers attack a group of Nazis to prevent them from getting away. Carson’s sidekick, Tank, throws a grenade, and the three of them charge the Nazis. Later, Crash and the other soldiers encounter another group of Nazis who are armed with a machine gun. One of the soldiers drives straight for the Nazis as Crash and Tank fire at them.

Crash Carson yelling "I'll stop him!"
Tremblay, Jack. “Crash Carson and His ‘Devil’s Angels.’” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 26-35.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

At the height of the story, a Nazi escapes and tries to steal one of their allied planes. Crash Carson runs after him immediately to prevent the Nazi from escaping and harming others. He puts himself at risk in order to save the lives of those the German may hurt. By running to stop the German from taking their bomber, Crash Carson is teaching children to be courageous in supporting the fight against the Nazis, and to be patriotic in fighting for their country. Crash Carson, after defeating the Nazi, takes control of the bomber as he and another soldier come under fire. They defeat the German bomber, but then are mistaken by their ally to be an enemy bomber, but Crash Carson saves them again using his piloting skills. This illustrates Crash Carson’s ability to think and act under pressure while they are being attacked by the enemy. As a hero, he demonstrates courage in the face of danger as he puts himself in harms way to avoid potentially harmful situations from becoming onto others.

Dart Daring scales a wall to save Loraine
Legault, E. T. “Dart Daring: The Castle in the Sea.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp.47-55.
Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Dart Daring in “Dart Daring and The Castle in The Sea” exhibits courage and selflessness as he tries to rescue Loraine after hearing her scream. Dart Daring is thrown into the water after their ship hits a castle in the middle of the sea. After being tossed overboard, Dart is shown sinking into the sea, with one panel only showing his hand above the water. His companions, Loraine, the captain and Frank, enter the mysterious castle after a drawbridge is let down for them. They mistakenly believe that whoever lowered the bridge, would help them find “the brave sir Daring.” His companions are then trapped inside the castle, and suddenly Dart resurfaces from the water. Though his own life is in danger, Dart is concerned about Loraine when he hears her scream from beyond the now closed drawbridge, within the castle. Upon hearing her scream, Dart courageously scales the wall, with shaking fingers, in order to selflessly rescue the damsel in distress. After almost drowning in the sea, Dart emerges ready to save Loraine from the “great danger” she may be in.

Conclusion

During the Second World War, heroes existed in real life and on paper. The fictional heroes of Wow Comics no. 15 were created to illustrate the heroic features that soldiers demonstrated during the war, in order to raise children and adolescents to exhibit those qualities. The soldiers of the front lines, and the protagonists of the comics displayed selflessness, patriotism, and courage in the face of their opponents. Whiz Wallace, Crash Carson and Dart Daring exemplify the same qualities of WWII soldiers, and provided role models for children. They helped to raise individuals who cared about and protected others, were brave in all situations, and who were loyal and supportive of their country. The heroes of the frontlines and those on paper helped to create future heroes.

Works Cited

Bell, John. Canuck Comics. Matrix Books, 1986.

Bell, John. Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. The Dundurn Group, 2006.

Engen, Robert. Strangers in Arms: Combat motivation in the Canadian Army, 1943-1945. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016.

Legault, E. T. “Dart Daring: The Castle in the Sea.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp.47-55. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Legault, E. T. “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demons.” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 12-20. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Tremblay, Jack. “Crash Carson and His ‘Devil’s Angels.’” Wow Comics, no. 15, 1943, pp. 26-35. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166677.pdf

Wattie, Chris. “Last of Doomed Bomber Excavated: World War II Mission: Canadian Pilot Praised as Hero for Steering Plane Away from Dutch Town.” National Post, September 2002. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/330182777?accountid=13631.

Native Americans & Colonial Racist Stereotypes in 1940’s WOW Comics no. 10

INTRODUCTION

Native Americans are now known for being spiritual, environmental, and nomads and unfortunately, colonizers have used stereotypes to create an alternate assumed identity with this knowledge. Previous to now the stereotypes of the Native identity was wrong, but as time has progressed it has slowly corrected itself. Thanks to the education high school now offers on the basics of native heritage and history stereotypical aspects have faded slightly and the presumed slights have become less prominent. This is a step in the right direction to reconciliation for the atrocities Indigenous North American communities have faced, from residential schools to cultural assimilation to the numerous issues surrounding reserves and broken treaties.

The “right step forward” to reconciliation mentality in North American society has not always prevalent in history. Throughout the 1800 and the 1900s, First Nations fought and defended Canada in both World Wars but were not given the right to vote. Indigenous people were consistently depicted as the enemy in mass consumed media even in medias geared towards children. In the collection of comics called the “Canadian Whites,” it was common to find this villainous depiction. Even more so it was common to see the reliability these comics had on racist, propagandistic stereotypes of the Indigenous community. In order to understand this racism, analyzing how Canada has treated Native Americans in the past will explain how these people and society interacted. Researching into the specific comic “WOW, no. 10” (published in January of 1942) and the origins of the racism found in this specific comic created numerous questions.

Why is the native populace depicted in mass consumed media negatively and in a severely racist way without the care for separate tribal identities? Even with Native Americans aiding the war effort greatly through enlistment the government refused to acknowledge the help until much later. Instead, deciding to show off propagandistic comics that portrayed “true” Canadians to be solely white Canadians who are superior and used this belief to fuel what the government of past and present 1940s wanted for Canada’s imagined future. Examining the Native influence on Canada prior, during, and after the war, the understanding of how this racism and altered depiction of Natives will become more clear and highlight that the imagined identity was a predominantly white, European, Christian population. All those who were not these characteristics, be it those who were First Nations or otherwise, were to be expunged or assimilated.

THE IMAGE OF THE “RED SKINNED SAVAGE”

In the short story found in WOW no. 10 called “The Iroquois are Back,” by Kathleen Williams, the time period revolves around the mid 1600s. The features three young men; Henri, Jaques, and Louis, all who venture out of the community against previous discretion due to “red devils,” the Iroquois being seen in the surrounding area. First Nations people have survived on this land for thousands of years, promoting spirituality and prosperity. As colonization became the dominant identity to cultivate the land for its resources, Native Americans became closed off on reserves, far off from society all while colonizers lived on the ground that the tribes once claimed. The use of ‘red devil’ is used as a depictor of the red undertone skin (a racist stereotype of First Nations people) and disassociates any good inherent reason for the Iroquois to be in the area or attack. It makes Indigenous people the enemy before they had really caused any issues, an enemy who is weaker and less formidable than other white people.

Colonization created a bias against Natives and that is shown when Henri, Jaques, and Louis single-handedly kill Natives for over two hours, a feat that is then congratulated when they are rescued by others from their community. They slaughtered many Native Americans to represent that they are protecting themselves from the “red deviled savage.” The murder of people was celebrated because they were the antagonist of the story for existing in an area that was once theirs solely. They were villainous for existing as Indigenous tribes and people were viewed as “primitive, strange and alien” (Sangster. 191-200) and were shamed for acting like “the behavior of the Eskimo.”(Sangster. 1991 200) The actions and values of the First Nations were shamed as the “cultural hierarchy that cast white, Euro-Canadian modernity as preferable and superior” (Sangster. 191-200) was always considered better.

This “savagery” is seen again in the story “Jeff Waring” by Murray Karn when the Native chief and his soldiers arrive on a Native war canoe and automatically it’s assumed that the natives torture and kill them. It then progresses to Jeff Waring, and his friends being tied to be burnt at the stake and are only saved when the chief’s son is cured by the “white man’s” medicine. Savagery is assumed in the comic just as common nature for the  Indigenous creating only negative, primitive depictions of the supposed tribe. The need to immediately resort to burning them on the fire as an act of savagery and then only transitioning from an evil portrayal when the white man’s medicine is used to help save the chief’s son paints all tribes as primitive. It all relies on the dependence for progress that the colonizer can bring to the Indigenous community.

CREATING MIXED CULTURES

The war changed many aspects of society, altering acceptance and economic prosperity. The decriminalization of Japanese Canadians who were put into internment camps and Italian immigrants were no longer viewed as “enemy alien” after 1947. 

Enemy aliens “referred to people from countries, or with roots in countries, that were at war with Canada…. during the Second World War, people with Japanese, German and Italian ancestry.” (Patricia Roy, Canadian Encyclopedia) This was not something that transferred to Native Americans, who by this point still were not given the right to vote federally (July 1, 1960 legislation passed to federally vote) and were viewed in disregard as during the war. This lack of acceptance was shown best in the depiction of two separate tribes; the Iroquois and a tribe from the Amazon. They have no relation to one another in any way be it physical, environmental, time period, nor are in the same story of the comic book yet look identical to each other in both the “Jeff Waring” and “The Iroquois Are Back.” These outfits are identical in the comics, both using similar furs and feathers.

Traditionally the Iroquois used “furs obtained from the woodland animals, hides of elk and deer.” (Kanatiyosh. 1999) whereas Amazonian tribes wear woven plant-based clothing or body paint. This was common especially during the time period of “Jeff Waring” as the cloth used by westerners was harder to make and obtain. This is due to the temperature difference and the cultural significance of clothing. Traditionally in the Amazon the fewer clothes one would wear the higher the rank in the tribe similar to the more body paint worn the higher the rank as well. Whereas clothing in the Iroquois tribe is beaded, has bells, and sewn on designs to show rank as the weather in Canada is much more frigid, especially in the 1600s when the comic “the Iroquois are back” takes place.

This link of identicality is seen in the way the faces are constructed in the illustrations. Both drawings have shown Natives with high cheekbones, dark eyes, large foreheads. These identities, that are very different, look identical for the purpose to show that all Natives are the same in appearance, culture and savagery. This represents ideas of assimilation into colonization as the Native community was not even worth an actual identity and instead is just clumped together as one. This ideology of missing individuality was the “ultimate goal of eliminating the “Indian” as an entity apart from the mainstream of Canadian society.” (Sheffield. 17) The lack of identity also shows that they are less superior to those who have actual defining features and differences, specifically that they are less important, in both the comic and real life than the white westerners.

THE MOCCASINS ON THE GROUND.

In the comic book as a whole, there is not a single mention of positive actions that the Native Americans had done. During “The Iroquois are Back” it depicts violence as if that is all the Natives are capable of with statements such as “the Indians closed in for the kill, hatchets raised, tomahawks waving.” (Williams. 29) War heroes are the pride of a nation and meant to hold their heads up with glory. They receive medals, are put on the local news at six, and written about in the paper. All acts of heroism during these wars are assumed to have already been discussed except there is never any mention of the aid the Indigenous tribes provided to the war effort.

Violence is promoted in the comic as second nature to the Natives but highlights nothing of the violence that some Natives were told to do while enlisted. It promotes a figurative “one-sided” coin alluding to this being only true depiction with accuracy as to how Indigenous tribes act. This ideology is further emphasized during “Jeff Waring” where the first interaction with the Indigenous tribe in the Amazon was a war canoe approaching the heroes boat. Instantly, the Natives are a threat once again. This portrayal has created conflict as there was, during its publication, Natives fighting for Canada in Europe. With no mention as to Indigenous men and women in the military, it has “resulted in narratives that are selective, partial, biased and distorted” (Harvey et al. 257) Natives were known in the armed forces for “voluntary enlistment and conscription of thousands of First Nations men.” (Sheffield. 43) The Society of American Indians, a group that helped the fight for Native rights to citizenship, even went as far as to put in their Journal that “Already we hear the tread of feet that once wore moccasins; already the red men are enlisting.” (Sabol. 268) Yet the history books have erased their participation as until later in the search for the Canadian identity was it acceptable to be native. The narrative stayed consistently negative until the tropes and stereotypes that are found in the comics became less politically correct closer to the beginning of the 2000s and were filtered out.

RECONCILIATION

Reconciling on past governmental and societal mistakes is an everyday goal in Canada as the acknowledgment of Native cultural genocide becomes more well known across the country. In doing this, images and tales such as those found in “the Iroquois are Back” and “Jeff Waring” become slowly more obsolete. There have been recent steps backward such as Johnny Depp in the movie “The Lone Ranger” but as the populace began to understand the sacrifices that Native Americans have suffered at the hands of colonization and it has become a topic more serious and more informed. Reconciliation started in Canada and the United States when the US granted citizenship to Native Americans as “Congress passed the law to reward Indians for their service and commitment to the country at a time of great need.” (Steven. 268) Unfortunately, all efforts were put on pause during the 1930s as it was the Great Depression. Tensions were rising in Europe which forced reconciliation to be pushed back until the 1960s, when voting in Canada federally was granted to all Native Americans. After that historical event that came into effect July 1, 1960, reconciliation has tardily progressed into slow positive change.

IN CONCLUSION

In the creation of Canada, Native American people have been treated as second-class citizens and have been the public enemy for an extended amount of time. From the fight to conserve their traditions and values to the consistent work towards continued reconciliation. As society progressed to be more inclusive, once again Natives were left in the dust and forced to continue the fight for equality. The images, text and subliminal messages in the comic book WOW comics no. 10 are present due to consistent colonial influence and racist stereotypes that emerged from that time period, continuing even to this day. The results of reconciliation have slowly chipped away at these stereotypes but these remarks still leave a lasting mark on the Native community in Canada.

WORKS CITED

Sheffield, R. Scott. The Red Man’s on the Warpath. UBC Press, 2004. pp 43 https://books-scholarsportal-info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/en/read?id=/ebooks/ebooks0/gibson_crkn/2009-12-01/3/404358 Accessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Karn, Murray. “Jeff Waring.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 15-25, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Williams, Kathleen. “The Iroquois are Back.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 27-29, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Sabol, Steven. “In search of citizenship: the society of American Indians and the First World War.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, 22 June 2017, p. 268+. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/apps/doc/A499696071/AONE?u=rpu_main&sid=AONE&xid=0c276e89. Accessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Raynald, Harvey L., et al. “Conflicts, Battlefields, Indigenous Peoples and Tourism: Addressing Dissonant Heritage in Warfare Tourism in Australia and North America in the Twenty-First Century.” International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, vol. 7, no. 3, 2013, pp. 257-271. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1412780619?accountid=13631. Accessed October 16/2018.

Sangster, Joan. “The Beaver as Ideology: Constructing Images of Inuit and Native Life in Post-World War II Canada.” Anthropologica, vol. 49, no. 2, 2007, pp. 191-209. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/214174078?accountid=13631. Accessed October 16, 2018.

Sheffield, R. Scott. “Veterans’ Benefits and Indigenous Veterans of the Second World War in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.” Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 32 no. 1, 2017, pp. 63-79. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/674309 Accessed October 16, 2018.

Kanatiyosh. “Iroquois Regalia.” Haudenosaunee Children’s Page. 1999. http://tuscaroras.com/graydeer/pages/childrenspage.htm Accessed November 20, 2018.

WORKS CITED: PHOTOS

ALL PHOTOS FALL UNDER FAIR USE POLICY. RYERSON UNIVERSITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES CAUSED.

Brazilian Natives in Traditional Clothing. *Royalty free* Released free of copyrights under creative commons CC0. https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1254856 Accessed November 12, 2018.

Fair use expired copyright- “The Iroquois are Back.” Wow Comics, no.10. pp 29, http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.chttp://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfa/e/e447/e011166673.pdfaccessed 10 Oct. 2018.

Fair use expired copyright- Goody, Edmond. WOW Comics, no.10 Front Cover page. January. 1942. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166673.pdfAccessed November 12, 2018.

Shaping Childhood: The Significance of Educational Propaganda (Wow Comics No. 12)

© Copyright 2018 Kisha Rendon, Ryerson University

Introduction

Comic books have been regarded through multimedia platforms, scattered on the spectrum of both print and film. When thinking about comics, we envision certain theatrical conventions that were popularized by the D.C. and Marvel American franchises. It would be safe to say that each of us have encountered a superhero movie, or at least an advertisement for one. Coincidentally though, we do not often encounter Canadian comic books in our time the same way people had encountered them during the years of 1941-1946. These years will be remembered as the “Canadian Golden Age of Comics” (“Canadian Golden Age”); when Canadian comics were a revered form of media, and served a greater purpose than providing simple entertainment. During this time, Canadian children turned to comics as an escape from reality, where stories of victory and war time toys would scatter the pages and fulfill their imaginations.

When analyzing an archived copy of Bell Features’ Wow Comic Issue No.12, I found a pattern in the structural scheme of the comic book. This specific issue held a total of six comics/storylines. Three of the said stories were war related with propagational connotations. This especially caught my attention because in comparison, the issue has eleven advertisements/newsletters that are educational/are related to the war effort.

Fig. 1. Front Cover (recto) of "Wow Comics Issue No.12" in four toned printing using the colours magenta, yellow, cyan, and black. The "Bell Features" 10 cent logo is seen on the right hand side underneath the large print words; "WOW COMICS".
Fig. 1. Front Cover (recto) of “Wow Comics Issue No.12”. April 1943, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

This can be exemplified on the back cover (verso) of the book where there is an advertisement for model airplanes following the comic “Whiz Wallace: Bombers to Victory” created by C.T. Legault (54), which happens to be centered around fighter pilots and aircrafts. Another obvious structural theme was the use of letters or cartoonish lettering over imagery in these advertisements/newsletters, althemore pronouncing the contrast from modern day advertising, which is highly based on imagery and film media. Comic books in this time heavily relied on the use and understanding of literary conventions, thus highlighting the weight at which advertisements/newsletters were used as educational tools.

Although the success of Canadian Comics were a result of the War Exchange Conservation Act (W.E.C.A.) enacted in 1939 (Thomas), through the exploration of the Bell Features Publication Wow Comics Issue No.12, it is reasonable to say that the attempt to refurbish the popular culture of comic books brought forward a medium to propagate Canadian nationalism and the war effort. As well, this research exemplifies that comics hold a larger issue surrounding the ideology of childhood and how children were perceived by the government. Through the exploration and analysis of this specific comic (Issue No.12), I will shed light on the hidden purpose the printing press served in the alternate use of comic books, and will further develop the reasons and educational values expected of children during this time.  

Birth of Printing Press: Coming to Comics

Fig. 2. Archived propagational poster from the Canadian War Savings Committee, printed in three tones (red, black, and white) utilizing the image of two children collecting war stamps to encourage the support of the war effort.
Fig. 2. Unknown. “Canada, War Savings Committee, ‘We’re doing our bit! We’re buying War Savings Stamps’ (Ottawa, n.d. [1942])”. War, Memory and Popular Culture Archives – The University of Western Ontario – London, Ontario, 1942. Wartime Canada http://wartimecanada.ca/sites/default/files/documents/War%20Savings%20Stamps.pdf. Copyright is in the Public Domain.
During the first world war, issues of censorship were circulating in Canada and amongst other countries. This time period highly relied on the printing press in order to convey announcements and war time news, which transformed the concept of print into “propaganda machine” (“Government Propaganda”). This propaganda paradigm follows in the time of the outbreak of the Second World War. Print was cheap to produce which provided as an effective source to promote the war effort and patriotism, while also doubling as a way to conserve the dollar. Newspapers were the prime example of an advocate of wartime broadcasting and easily became an agent in shaping/maintaining a sense of value. The enactment of the War Exchange Conservation Act propelled individualized production in Canada in attempt to save the Canadian dollar (Kocmarek 148). The prohibition included the halt on the importing of American magazines and comic books. A new industry for printing, independent from the United States, emerged from the importation ban.

Children would read comics as a pastime or form of entertainment. Thus, when the import of American comics was discontinued, the child industry was left open for exploitation. Publishers utilized the prohibition of American comics to establish Canadian comic printing companies such as Bell Features. Founders of Bell Features Publications utilized the publicity of the war time status to establish a Canadian printing press, especially by targeting influential youth who were adamant on supporting different gimmicks in contribution to war effort participation. This resulted in the eruption of the time period called the “Canadian Golden Age of Comics” (1941-1946).

Undercover Propaganda

This time brought to light new Canadian heroes, and thus, Canadian based comic book series came to life. To name a few iconic figures; “Crash Carson”, “Nelvana”, “Johnny Canuck”, and etc., were among most of which who followed the mold of an average patriotic citizen, turned sacrificial, brave superhero. Furthermore, Canadian comic books would specifically include true victory stories like that of “Tommy Holmes V.C.” (24) to instill patriotic ideologies in children, and further encourage enlisting in the war and their participation in the war effort. So although on the surface level, comics served as a form of entertainment, publishers would often times include propaganda in forms of advertisement and newsletters, including war toys and self promotion to support, therefore maintaining the war time environment and propagation. Interestingly, during the Golden Age of Comics, education became a crucial aspect in shaping children’s values (Cooke 2), leading back to why true war stories were included in the collection of comics in this issue, and developing the acceptability of “educational” propaganda in children’s entertainment. Through the inclusion of subtle value based advertisements and newsletter additions in between comics and victory stories, comic print cultivated a new level of propagation that changed the meaning of childhood during the war.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “propaganda” is defined as displays of often one sided idea/opinion based information displayed through images, broadcastings, or publications intentionally spread to influence people’s opinions. Propaganda was commonly seen during both the First and Second World Wars to do exactly this in regard to the upholding of patriarchal values and beliefs. The Cambridge definition of the word “propaganda” insinuates the use of subliminal messaging. In the Wow Comics Issue No.12, there are instances of comics that follow the idea of subliminal messaging. Taking the example of Parker’s Tommy Holmes once again, the comic follows the real life victory encounter of Tommy Holmes being a Canadian soldier, and how he won the Victory Cross. The educational value of this comic, shows to have propagational background in the sense of glorifying enlistment into the front line and educational value through the teaching of a real time event. This is amplified then, by the following overzealous inclusion of advertisements in the children’s print.

Advertisements are typically used to depict messages through mass media. Often times advertising is meant to persuade the purchase of goods or services (Goodis and Pearman), which can be exemplified in this comic issue through the promotion of model plane sets on the back cover (verso). The page is printed in four tone (red, yellow, black, and white) and is displayed with two miniscule drawings of the “Identoplane” box and a boy yelling. All other details on the page are written in different fonts and lettering that mimic/direct the way they are to be read. However, through the comparison of this advertisement against advertisements found in modern day, it is visually more word oriented versus the media we see now. In an article written by Beth Hatt and Stacy Otto in 2011, they discuss the use of visual culture and imagery in advertisements as a way for accessibility to the audience (512). Thus, by using word based advertisements and newsletters in children’s comic books, there needed to be a target audience who could read and understand the content, and were overall meant to be in possession of these comics.  

The Canadian Effort: Educating Youth

Fig. 3. Illustrated newsletter printed in black and white, and drawn by Canadian artist Al Cooper. Newsletter describes a German Nazi plane called the "Torpedo Aircraft", along with informational text boxes.
Fig. 3. Al Cooper. “Informational newsletter on the ‘Torpedo Aircraft'”. Wow Comics Issue No. 12, April 1943, p. 32. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

These findings lead to the question about how children were educated during the war time. The use of comics was an easy solution in educating children through advertisements and newsletters that actually served as politically driven propaganda. Ultimately, the most popular example of educational use in comic books leads back to the highly weighted importance of participating in the war effort. The advertisements for related Bell Features comic books advertise comics aimed toward both boys and girls. In analyzing Issue No.12 further, page 32 stood out as an independent/unique newsletter amongst the others. This newsletter is a stand alone page that has two text boxes with information on the “Torpedo Aircraft”. The page is accompanied by three illustrations of a Nazi German aircraft drawn by the infamous Canadian illustrator, Al Cooper. At first glance the newsletter could be mistook for an advertisement or a one panel comic due to its cartoon-like demeanour, but upon deeper analysis the page is a definite informational newsletter. The newsletter appears to be specifically beneficial to the male audience as it discusses the Torpedo Aircraft in two entire text boxes; which is an example of male gender content. However, during the war time schools as a whole became highly involved in the contributions to the war effort.

Through the outbreak of the war and the installment of the W.E.C.A, school began to revolve around supporting the front line. Educational systems led and focused on contributions to propagational campaigns that would help save the dollar. An example of this would be classrooms being transformed into sewing rooms for girls, where they would “learn” how to sew/knit for the Red Cross organization, and articles would go to servicemen and victims of bombed areas.

Fig. 4. Unknown. Archived. Captured in black and white, vintage photograph of three boys working on the mechanics of an aviator machine at Wester Technical School.
Fig. 3. Unknown. “Archived vintage photograph of boys working on aviator machine”. City of Toronto Archives
www.toronto.ca/archives, 1930, Toronto Guardian, City of Toronto Archives. Copyright is in the Public Domain.

Boys on the other hand were to “learn” how to produce scale models of aircrafts that would go toward training pilots and gunners. Furthermore, this explains why the verso of the comic advertising “Identoplanes” is printed in colour, and makes sense of the use of letters versus images as building aircrafts was associated with school. Education was being strategically interwoven into popular culture through the comic book medium. Moreover, students would often receive education on defence and war emergency training. The type of education included would be how to recognize enemy aircrafts and understanding how they function (Millar “Education”), which is the exact information included on the newsletter from page 32. This thus encompasses the image and value of education as presented to children through political propagation as it was important for students to be educated on certain war time concepts to better protect themselves.

Building Childhood: Concluding Thoughts

The government imposed many political standings over Canadians which is clearly presented through newspapers and printed propaganda, reaching out to parental figures at home, while children were more often concerned with new war toys and other popular culture novelties. School systems held the great responsibility over shaping the values and ideologies of children in a time where there was no structure of understanding or definite knowledge to when the war would end. The war time brought significant changes to the social environment of many families in Canada, which in turn, highlighted school as a facility of direction. Education taught children how to observe and retain knowledge from the world around them, and still plays an important role in shaping personal perspectives. It is important to recognize that children are impressionable and will reflect actions and mistakes. For example, when there is a high standard set on expectations of a noble soldier like Tommy Holmes, children will reflect on that image and mimic it’s value. Therefore, the manipulation of comics as war educated propagational mediums, holds potential power for abuse. Although comics served as entertainment, they were also popular tools used to educate children on serious topics ranging from political ideologies, moral values, and racial categorization. If used/misused with from an ignorant standpoint, there could have been severe consequences in the social development of war time children that would last far into the future.

The most interesting thing about analyzing the issue of childhood education through propaganda in comic books is the lack of thorough research done on this topic. The Golden Age of Comics arose multiple issues that have been overlooked in scholarly work such as: the importance of word oriented/educational advertisements and newsletters in children’s comic books and the purpose that they serve. The values of education in correlation to comic books and popular culture is almost nonexistent. This is concerning considering the weight at which the government influenced Canadian values and ideologies during the Second World War. Continually, there was minimal research regarding how children experienced the war time and war effort movements. Although young and impressionable, the social results of their own experience has not been thought to be analyzed thus far. It was through compiling this research that I found it difficult to produce a connective argument, as this argument does not yet exist, but should exist. It was not hard to point at a page in the comic book and correlate it to a post-war time issue/concern. Wow Comics embraces a great ordeal of information through example illustrations of propaganda and subliminal messaging in story lines. I believe that comic books are detrimental to future studies and analysis on World War II and the experiences of those who lived through it.  

In conclusion, through the analysis of the structure of the Wow Comics Issue No.12 and it’s significant use of advertising and newsletters, comic books are proven to have served as educational tools for children during the Second World War. The printing press and pulp print built an opportunity for publishers such as Cyril Bell, to bring forward publication firms such as Bell Features Comics and develop the initial platform for popular culture propaganda. However, it was the importance of education that ultimately motivated the inclusion of subliminal propaganda in comic books. Furthermore, this research envelopes the notion of the child as an important figure in the construction of social values through their impressionable nature, but also the leading figure of direction through their capability to mold the future of Canada. Essentially, the government simultaneously established manipulation and dependence on the education of children through comic books, locking themselves in a feedback loop entailing both the political figures and the children to rely on one another.   

 


 

Works Cited

Clemenso, Al, et al. Wow Comics, no. 12. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, April

1943, pp. 1-65. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166674.pdf

Cook, Tim. “Canadian Children and the Second World War | The Canadian Encyclopedia.” The

Canadian Encyclopedia, 12 Apr. 2016,

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-children-and-wwii.

Cooke, Ian. “Children’s Experiences and Propaganda.” British Library, Creative Commons, 29

January 2014,

https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/childrens-experiences-and-propaganda.

Cooper, Al. “Torpedo Aircraft.” Wow Comics, no. 12. Bell Features and Publishing Company

Limited, April 1943, p. 32. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166674.pdf

Good, Edmond. “Wow Comics Issue No.12” Wow Comics, no. 12. Bell Features and Publishing

Company Limited, April 1943, cover page (recto). Bell Features Collection, Library and

Archives Canada.

http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166674.pdf

Goodis, Jerry and Brian Pearman. “Advertising.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada,

4 March 2015, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/advertising.

Hatt, Beth, and Stacy Otto. “A Demanding Reality: Print-Media Advertising and Selling

Smartness in a Knowledge Economy.” Educational Studies, vol. 47, no. 6, 2011, pp.

507–26. Scholars Portal Journals, doi:10.1080/00131946.2011.621075.

Legault, C.T.. “Whiz Wallace: Bombers to Victory.” Wow Comics, no. 12. Bell Features and

Publishing Company Limited, April 1943, pp. 54-63. Bell Features Collection, Library

and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166674.pdf

Millar, Anne. “Education during the Second World War.” Wartime Canada,

http://wartimecanada.ca/essay/learning/education-during-second-world-war. Accessed 30

September 2018.

Parker. “Tommy Holmes V.C.” Wow Comics, no. 12. Bell Features and

Publishing Company Limited, April 1943, pp. 24-31. Bell Features Collection, Library

and Archives Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166674.pdf

“PROPAGANDA”  Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/propaganda. Accessed 20 November

2018.

“Save While Supporting the War.” Wartime Canada. 1942. The University of Western Ontario,

London, Ontario. War, Memory and Popular Culture Archives,

http://wartimecanada.ca/document/world-war-ii/victory-loans-and-war-savings/save-whil

e-supporting-war

Thomas, Michael. “Canadian Comics: From Golden Age to Renaissance (Includes Interview).”

Digital Journal, 18 Aug. 2015,

http://www.digitaljournal.com/a-and-e/arts/canadian-comics-from-golden-age-to-renaissa

nce/article/440981. Accessed 30 September 2018.

“WarMuseum.ca – Democracy at War – Information, Propaganda, Censorship and the

Newspapers.” Canadian War Museum, 14 Nov. 1940,

https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/information_e.shtml.

“Western Technical School – Boys Working on Aviation Motor.” Toronto Guardian. 1942.

Western Technical School, Toronto, Ontario. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item

19594, https://torontoguardian.com/2016/08/vintage-school-students-photographs/

 

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.

 

Cover of Wow Comics No. 8, part of the Canadian Whites collection.

The Everyman Hero in Canadian WWII Comics (Wow Comics No. 8)

© 2018 Kelley Doan, Ryerson University

When Canadians think about comic book heroes, most of us refer to characters that are American: they were created in America, they represent American ideas and ideals, and most of the stories are set in American cities or places that, if fictional, are easily recognized as intended to be American. However, while entertainment in Canada does tend to be overwhelmed by American influence, there was a golden age of Canadian comics during which artists and writers took advantage of a pause in access to American content to create Canadian heroes.

Cover of Wow Comics No. 8, part of the Canadian Whites collection.
Title: Wow Comics No. 8
Creator: Bell Features and Publishing Company
Source: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166671.pdf

In examining Bell Features’ Wow Comics No. 8, I realized that something seemed different about the main characters. These Canadian comic book heroes, in contrast to their American counterparts, were without superhuman powers or superscientific weapons, and this was true of largely all Canadian comic book heroes of the time. For example, in Wow Comics No. 8, heroes Dart Daring, Jeff Waring, Crash Carson, and Whiz Wallace were all simple adventurers (Legault et al.). Most of them were everyman heroes – the average citizen with a passion to set things right and an exceptional dose of courage – with whom readers could identify rather than idolize. Two major contributing factors brought about this new class of comic book hero. Cultural differences in Canada were reflected in their character, particularly a differing notion of what is heroic. More relevant, though, is the impact of propaganda which was used to muster support for the Canadian war effort and was found in all forms of media at this time, including those directed at children. An exploration of the more prominent Canadian comic book heroes as purveyors of the message of unity and call for support sheds some light not only on the origin of future Canadian comic book heroes, but also indicates reasons – beyond a fraught publishing industry – that those later heroes struggled to find more than a niche audience.

Canadian Comics: The Origin Story

Comic books made their debut in the late 1920’s, rising from the popularity of the comic strip. Comic strips were meant solely for entertainment, unlike the already established political cartoon, and the comic book followed suit. There were a number of Canadian comic strips in print, but American artists and publishers had established a foothold in the genre early on, and Canadian comics found little success in syndication beyond our borders (Bell and Viau, “Emergence of the Comic Book, 1929-1940”). Even within Canada, publishers faced financial challenges, in part due to the popularity of the American comic books flooding the market thanks to a much stronger American publishing industry (Edwardson 184).

The Daisybelle comic strip by Gene Byrnes from The Funnies No. 2, 1936.
Title: “Daisybelle”
Creator: Gene Byrnes
Source: http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?dlid=5640
Copyright: Public Domain

As the popularity of comic strips, known as “the funnies”, increased, the adventure genre strips emerged. Among the first of these was Superman. While he is frequently said to be a Canadian creation – the National Film Board included him in one of their Heritage Minutes and he was part of a collection of stamps commemorating Canadian comic book heroes – the truth is that the connection is very minimal. Superman’s creator, Joe Shuster, was born and lived in Toronto until he was eight years old. He then moved to the United States where he created Superman, who fought for “Truth, justice, and the American way” (Beaty 428). Superman was more than an adventurer, though. He was the first of the superheroes, with powers beyond those of a human being. Children on both sides of the border saw the appeal immediately (Bell and Viau, “Emergence of the Comic Book, 1929-1940”s). Canada’s own Mordecai Richler was a fan, remarking that, “They were invulnerable, all-conquering, whereas we were puny, miserable, and defeated” (Richler 80). Whatever his heritage, Superman’s popularity paved the way for an ever-increasing roster of superheroes, including Batman, Arrow, and Flash Gordon.

Many superheroes got their start in comic strips, and comic books began as compilations of the strips; but publishers rather quickly noticed that comic books had a greater potential, one which included longer-form storytelling and experimenting with elements not possible in strips. Children embraced this new medium as much as they did the superheroes that filled the comic books’ pages, and a new sector of American publishing took off like a speeding bullet. Emphasis is on the American industry, because although there were thousands of fans and a large market in Canada, those Canadians who were part of the comic book boom generally had to move to America to work (Bell and Viau, “Emergence of the Comic Book, 1929-1940”).

A child at the Children's Colony, a school for refugee children in New York, N.Y. reading a Superman comic.
Title: New York, N.Y. Children’s Colony, a school for refugee children Creator: Marjory Collins Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:N.Y._Children%27s_Colony_04108v.jpg Copyright: Public Domain

As war approached, though, this would change drastically. On the heels of Canada’s declaration of war in 1939 came the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA), which restricted the importation of non-essential goods including comics. The embargo prompted the formation of Canada’s own publishing industry comprising a group of publishers and their works known later as The Canadian Whites, and provided an opportunity for Canadian artists to produce their own heroes (Bell and Viau, “Canadian Golden Age of Comics, 1941-1946”): heroes which better represented the Canadian audience; heroes who used Canadian cultural references; heroes who could relay messages to the audiences that felt so much more connected to them, a point which did not go unnoticed.

 

Propaganda in Comics: The Art of Persuasion

The word “propaganda” often conjures ideas of nefarious government deeds, but that is not always or even often the case. It is simply a form of communication with a cause at the heart of its agenda, and can be completely benign or even beneficial. Much like marketing, it is a form of persuasion, but propaganda is enhanced by ideology. As an integral part of a democracy (Batrasheva 8), it is not hard to understand why propaganda is used during war time, when it is of vital importance for governments to unite citizens in support of the war effort.

In 1942, the Wartime Information Board was created from the previous entity, the Bureau of Public Information, changing the mandate from simply providing war-related information to the public to using techniques of persuasion to manage Canadians’ perceptions of and feelings about the war (Young 190-91). Following on the Bureau of Public Information’s failure to rouse support in more traditional and grandiose ways, the Wartime Information Board created the idea of a “people’s war”. Canadians disliked American “brouhaha and victory parades”. They felt that patriotism was being forced upon them, but were inspired by the idea that neighbours together could fight the enemy and build a better society (Young 192-93). It was a young idea that needed a young method of relaying the message.

Among the messages necessary to impart to Canadians during World War II was the integral idea that the war effort, despite the tremendous impact on their lives, was important and good; among the motivations for that message was avoiding the need for conscription and a repeat of the 1917 crisis (English) which divided the nation because French Canada felt disconnected from the cause (“The Conscription Crisis”); in fact the Canadian government eventually avoided the need to send conscripts overseas until nearly the end of the war (Jones and Granatstein). While support had to be stirred in both the men who would go overseas to fight and the women who remained and took on the extra work of supplying the needs of the troops in addition to maintaining their families and communities, it was also important to address the children, whose fathers were suddenly absent and in many cases may never return.

Canadian WWII industrial propaganda poster
Title: Canadian WWII industrial propaganda poster
Creator: Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Company Limited
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Our_Answer_All-Out_Production,_Canada,_WWII_Propaganda_Poster.jpg
Copyright: Public Domain

Wartime propaganda is typically of the integration type, seeking to unify society to a common goal (Batrasheva 12). The transference technique, which connects the intended message to something the audience respects or reveres (Batrasheva 16), is especially useful with children as it emulates the parental role. To reach children, the most obvious choice was their current favourite: comic books. Since the favourite characters of the day were already adventure heroes, it was simple enough to send those characters off to war. Combining transference with the plain folks technique – a method aimed at connecting well known figures to activities that should be imitated (Batrasheva 18) – which appealed to both children and those who were on board with the “people’s war” ideal, one of the obvious methods of communication was through entertainment, particularly using popular figures who represented both the war effort’s message and connected with the average citizen. Comic books, with their young market, were an effective medium., particularly since the heroes in Canada’s World War II comics already differed from American heroes in one crucial way: they were not supermen, they were everymen.

Not All Heroes Are Super

The more well-known comic book heroes of the day were American, and the hero among these that best represented American nationalism and support for the war effort was Captain America, who first appeared in 1941. While Captain America began as an average citizen who passionately wanted to go to war and fight the Nazis, he was a sickly man who was not able to enlist. However, he was offered the chance to participate in a government experiment during which he received the Super-Soldier formula and was exposed to “vita-rays”, after which he had a perfect (though still human) body. His physical prowess was enhanced by a shield made of an impenetrable, indestructible, and fictional metal (“Captain America”).

While Captain America is written as a human, the level of perfection raises the character to a level unattainable in reality and carries a super-real shield thus elevating him to the level of superhero. Examining the real-life people that Americans celebrated as war heroes, I found many highly decorated people such as actor Audie Murphy, who at age 19 “manned a machine gun on a burning tank and made a desperate solo attack against German forces”, for which he won the Medal of Honor, and upon which he built his film career (Andrews). This type of hero reflects a preference for a hierarchy of supporting characters following one extraordinary leader, and supports ideals of patriotism and rarefied bravery, and the message that with the support of American citizens the government will send a hero to save the day.

Title: “Johnny Canuck”
Creator: Leo Baschle
Source: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166581.pdf

On the other hand, Canada’s main wartime nationalistic comic book hero, Johnny Canuck – who first appeared in 1942, the same year as the Wartime Information Board – was the kind of hero that most Canadians could become. Many knew someone of similar ability, be it their family, friend, or neighbour. Johnny Canuck was an excellent athlete who regularly fought Hitler with his bare hands. Although he had no superhuman powers, weaponry, or armour (Beaty 430) he was designed to be “Canada’s answer to Nazi oppression” (Bachle et al. 1) In fact Leo Bachle was an adolescent when he created Johnny Canuck, drawing him in his own image and including friends and even his teachers in the stories. Johnny Canuck was truly an everyman hero (Plummer).

A photograph of Elsie MacGill during her CCF tenure.
Title: “Elsie MacGill during her CCF tenure.”
Creator: Elsie Gregory MacGill
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elsie_macgill.jpg
Copyright: Public Domain

Of course, Canada had some decorated heroes as well, but given our smaller more supporting role, the everyman hero better represented Canadian ideals and mirrored the real-life heroes they venerated, such as Elsie MacGill who led the Hawker Hurricane manufacturing project that supplied fighter planes to Allied Forces and became known as Queen of the Hurricanes, and Leo Major who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for liberating an entire city by himself, but did so by using his intelligence to trick the Germans rather than brute force (Ferreras).

Conclusion

While Canada and America were united by participation in World War II, their roles were very different. The messages relayed by propaganda to the citizenry were also dissimilar, but this is at least as much due to cultural differences, as Canadians generally saw their mostly supporting role as every bit as important as that of the American troops, not to mention that Canada was involved earlier (Young 190).

While later Canadian hero Captain Canuck – one of the few to emerge in the decades following the war – did have superpowers, he embodied many of the characteristics of Johnny Canuck, and is often confused for a later interpretation of the Canadian Whites hero (Edwardson 189-91). Canadian society had moved on, but Captain Canuck clung mostly to the everyman values that portrayed Canada as “a “peaceable kingdom”” (Edwardson 184), an idea created by the Wartime Information Board to connect to audiences. Later readers had no need for this type of character and, once again inundated with American escapist entertainment, spent their dollars in support of American superheroes.

Nevertheless, the Canadian Whites are an interesting and all too often overlooked part of our literary history. They represent the tenacity of Canadians in the face of war and in the pursuit of entertainment; our ability to band together to fight the enemy in hope of a better world; and our ability to come together and create a whole arts industry that represents Canadians more than it imitates American content, when given the space to do so.


Works Cited

Andrews, Evan. “Audie Murphy’s World War II Heroics, 70 Years Ago.” HISTORY.Com, http://www.history.com/news/audie-murphys-world-war-ii-heroics-70-years-ago. Accessed 10 Jan. 2018.

Bachle, Leo, et al. Johnny Canuck. Chapterhouse Publishing Incorporated, 2016.

Bachle, Leo. Johnny Canuck. 1945.

Batrasheva, Yeldana. Children and the Media: Propaganda Methods Aimed at Children during World War II. 2016, https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjzrqeH2d_WAhWlx4MKHX3iBnkQFghNMAs&url=https%3A%2F%2Felearning.unyp.cz%2Fpluginfile.php%2F58141%2Fmod_data%2Fcontent%2F1862%2FBatrasheva%252C%2520Yeldana_510135_Senior%2520Project%2520Thesis.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0UPYbTLSCTXTppKgA-utKz.

Beaty, Bart. “The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 36, no. 3, Oct. 2006, pp. 427–39.

Bell, John, and Michel Viau. “Canadian Golden Age of Comics, 1941-1946.” Collections Canada, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/comics/027002-8300-e.html. Accessed 7 Jan. 2018.

Bell, John, and Michel Viau. “Emergence of the Comic Book, 1929-1940.” Collections Canada, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/comics/027002-8200-e.html. Accessed 6 Jan. 2018.

Byrnes, Gene. Daisybelle Comic on Page 32 of The Funnies. 1 Nov. 1936. http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?dlid=5640, Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daisybelle_-_The_Funnies,_No._2_02.jpg.

“Captain America.” Marvel Directory, http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/c/captainamerica.htm.

Collins, Marjory. New York, N.Y. Children’s Colony, a School for Refugee Children. Oct. 1942. Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:N.Y._Children%27s_Colony_04108v.jpg.

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

English, John R. “Wartime Information Board.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/wartime-information-board/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2018.

Ferreras, Jesse. “11 Canadian War Heroes We Can’t Forget On November 11.” HuffPost Canada, 9 Nov. 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/09/canadian-war-heroes-remembrance-day_n_8475820.html.

Jones, Richard, and J. L. Granatstein. “Conscription.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/conscription/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2018.

Legault, E. T., et al., editors. Wow Comics: No. 8. Bell Features and Publishing Company, 1942.

MacGill, Elsie Gregory. Elsie MacGill during Her CCF Tenure. Apr. 1938. Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elsie_macgill.jpg.

Plummer, Kevin. “Historicist: Toronto’s Golden Age of Comic Books.” Torontoist, 20 Nov. 2010, https://torontoist.com/2010/11/historicist_torontos_golden_age_of_comic_books/.

Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Company Limited. Canadian WWII Industrial Propaganda Poster. 1940s. WWII propaganda poster (Immediate source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/301459768779680901/), Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Our_Answer_All-Out_Production,_Canada,_WWII_Propaganda_Poster.jpg.

Richler, Mordecai. “The Great Comic Book Heroes.” Hunting Tigers Under Glass, McClelland and Stewart, 1968.

“The Conscription Crisis.” CBC Learning, http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP12CH2PA3LE.html.

Young, William R. “Mobilizing English Canada for War: The Bureau of Public Information, the Wartime Information Board and a View of the Nation During the Second World War.” The Second World War as a National Experience, HyperWar Foundation, https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/Natl_Exp/NatlExp-14.html.

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.

Manipulation by Media

Children are easily manipulated as they are seen as innocent and naive. Children do not have the education to learn what the real reason is behind the madness that occurs every day. Events will happen all over the world and children will not be capable to grasp a proper understanding as to why it is happening. This is solely due to the lack of education on history. A major historic event that had a change in the world, was World War II in 1939. World War II made an impact on everyone all around the world especially in the media, as it was largely impacted. During this time, comics were very popular and they contained many different stories that were targeted towards war. A comic would show an example of how children were not being properly taught about an event. The use of racism, violence, and hatred was incorporated negatively in these comics. In my comic, there was an advertisement for war stamps that involved the illustration of Adolph Hitler. My comic found on page 15 of WOW Comics issue No. 10 (1945). Specifically focused on the aim for children to purchase war stamps. The purchase of war stamps was easier to persuade to children due to their age and young mentality. The sales of war stamps are one of the factors which helped fund the war, for it was important to keep the children engaged in purchasing. Depending on the perspective, this comic advertisement can be interpreted as a deeper meaning. This can be proven through the history presented, the illustrations, the vocabulary used and the dramatic events which unfolded in front of children in World War II.

Children and History: Historic Childhood Novelty

I found that the history of World War II was very effective while looking at this comic advertisement. Without looking into the history one would not be able to prove that children were very under-educated and manipulated. The media was able to target children with the use of comics and toys. Children have been targeted for many years, but it was most prominent during World War II because leaders found them to be more vulnerable (Martin Armstrong, 2014). In comparison to adults, children retain more information because they are continuously developing their own personalities and mentalities (David Machin and Theo Van Leeuwen, 2009). Children were targeted in this comic to purchase war stamps, however, they believed that by doing so they were helping fund the war for their nation. The message that they received was positive, as they were helping their families who were within the battle. At an impressionable age and with the passion to be involved, these children tried to come up with any way to make money. With whatever they earned, they would bring it to their school to purchase War Savings Stamps which they pinned into special booklets for post-war redemption. This created an appealing goal for them, by being able to fill and keep track of their unique stamps! Along with the mixed messages, there was the horrible bribery of the children that I found quite appalling. “Children learned to recycle and collect materials, such as metal, rubber, fat, and grease, which were reused to produce useful products for the war. In return for the children’s labour, different incentives were offered to the children such as free passes to the movies” (Veterans Affairs Canada, 2017). Apart from free movie screenings, children enjoyed playing with different toys in their free time. Toys were made to resemble the war; even today I still see these toys exist. These toys can consist of miniature soldiers, plastic machine guns, replica grenades and the full attire (David Machin and Theo Van Leeuwen, 2009). These toys would intrigue children, in relation to the plastic guns, those are not toys, even if they are plastic. These toys would intrigue a child and become an object of enjoyment, as opposed, to teaching them what their real purpose is, which is to injure and kill people. What I immediately thought was how boys-not girls because there was more sexism towards girls if they were caught wanting to play with these war toys; this could resemble their family that was out fighting for their lives. Young boys want to be able to follow in their parent’s footsteps, usually their fathers, which would make these toys more appealing. Further, into the research, it brought me to an article based on a true story made into a comic, about a young girl named  Hansi who loved the Swastika symbol (Figure 2).

This is something I found to be extremely inappropriate for a child to love. The Swastika symbol is the official emblem of the Nazi party and a symbol that holds a meaning of hatred. The Hansi comic book was part of a series of biographies of famous Christians in the 1970s. The Christian comic book was based on the autobiography of Maria Anne Hirschmann, who lived through World War II as a victim of the Germans propaganda (Comic Alliance Staff, 2010). She was an avid believer in the Bible, but then found herself intrigued and interested in the swastika.It was concerning as it is found unusual of such difference in an interest into something which negatively impacted the world. Further with age, she then returned back to her Christian faith.It was obvious the moral behind this comic, as it is showing you that your faith will always be there for you even when you do not realize it. By looking back on the history of World War II, I am able to further prove the point that children did not receive the proper education. If they had, these children would not want to resemble the toys they played with to war, misunderstand comics for wanting to help with the war and have a young girl who loved the swastika.

 

Illustration: Visual Stimulation 

I further my research on my topic by looking into the illustrations displayed in my comic advertisement. This comic I found was unique in the use of illustration, especially when looking at Hitler’s expression while he is saluting. The facial reaction displayed on Adolph Hitler plays a large part in the advertisement (Figure 3). Looking at his face is unsettling, we are not exactly sure how Hitler is feeling. Hitler looks disappointed when he is giving authority by saluting yet, he is not exactly proud of himself. He also looks guilty. When we see realistic photographs of Hitler, his face is usually flat and he has no emotion shown on his face. However, this comic shows him looking vulnerable and upset. This I find has a major effect on children because it will have the emotional grab; he does not look happy with what he is doing so why would someone else want to follow in his footsteps? It is also seen Hitler holding a swastika in his hand. My findings concluded that the swastika connected with the story of the young girl who loved the swastika symbol. This adds to the fact that children were easily manipulated through illustrations; most likely finding the symbol appealing because they would not understand the meaning behind it. Looking further into the illustration we can take notice of a solider showing force against Hitler. This I found portrayed violence, which should not be portrayed to young children. I think children should see that violence is not something that we approve, yet, this comic is showing our soldiers being violent towards one of the most notorious people in history. It is quite a contradicting illustration when discussing the impact of illustrations affecting children. Although they are young, this is the time their minds start to process information and remember things that they see such as the illustration in this comic. A child finds illustrations more appealing than vocabulary. However, in order for comics to be appealing to the young crowd, the illustrators had to use images rather than vocabulary to catch the individuals eye and have a reminding effect.

Vocabulary: Cunning Persuasion 

Lastly, a strong form of manipulation used throughout this comic is the vocabulary. There are two words that stand out to myself and those words are “heed” and “breed”. Heed is a word that expresses obedience, but also indicates a warning in this comic. Once defining this term and delving deeper into the meaning of it, I realized you have to pay attention to small details in the comic. I looked carefully at this and realized the word heed is used in an intentional way. I needed to focus on the main idea in this comic, which is Hitler. I paid more attention to him after this because what he did throughout his life was not right. His “breed,” aka the Germans, though they were doing good, but when we actually pay attention to the reality of it all, we know that Hitler was trying to create racial purity. In my article, the communicating text starts with: “A jerk called Adolph” which indicates that they are trying to keep an appropriate word for children instead of using a  vulgar term (Figure 4).

This portrays to the child that the term “jerk” would be a bad word, but not too bad as to reveal Hitler. In the verse following, “was once a kid” this removes Hitler’s scary nature, allowing children to feel somewhat empathetic. Thus, thinking that he was once like them being weak and vulnerable. Also, without caution to children of Hitler’s true nature, they might desire to be like him one day. Following that in the text, “But, when he grew up  just look what he did!” It is implying that the reader would know “what he did” and assumes they would share the same assessment as the comic author. Furthermore, the text says: “Now you” which is speaking directly to the reader of the comic. Also, reverting back to words spoke earlier which were: “can help destroy his breed,” which refers to Hitler’s mission which was to destroy the Jewish people. The ‘you’ in this ad is aimed at its readers to destroy Hitler’s breed. Hitler is known for his wanting to destroy the Jewish. There is a fine line between us attacking Hitler like, he is attacking the Jewish, it is displayed in this ad that we need to destroy his “breed” which does not equal justice. The comic displays Germans as a “breed,” just like animals, they are just something to be killed off as if they do not have to mean. We should not intend to equal the violence, we should show children that we want peace. Lastly, is the quote:  “if these words you will but heed… Buy War Stamps!” This is now trying to persuade its reader into thinking that they must buy these war stamps. The vocabulary in this comic advertisement was very particular, they added the persuasion, the double meaning and the second person perspective (WOW Comic, 1949).

In conclusion, I prove that the media has a large effect on children who lived through World War II. This was shown with the use of the historical information gathered through research of war stamps, as children paid and collected these stamps to help fund the war. The stamps were particularly advertised to children, as they were easy to persuade due to their age and passion for involvement. Secondly, toys which represented different war items allowed a child to have an imagination and feel like their mothers and fathers, who of which did their part to help the war. The true story of Hansi, allows us to understand the meaningful power of the swastika and that person’s faith will always follow them. Moreover, by looking at the illustration displayed in the comic, Hitlers image and expression is evident in showing a negative perspective. As well as, the vocabulary used, which allowed us to see many different aspects being persuasion, double meaning and the perspectives directed. Overall, comics had a lot of impacts, not only on the innocent young boys and girls but also in the aspect of how it portrayed media throughout the event of World War II.

Work Cited

Comic Alliance Staff “Comic Art Propaganda Explored: ‘Hansi The Girl Who Loved the Swastika’.” ComicsAlliance, 17 July 2010, comicsalliance.com/comic-art-propaganda-explored-hansi-the-girl-who-loved-the-swa/

Canada, Veterans Affairs. “Canadian Youth – Growing up in Wartime.” Veterans Affairs Canada, Government of Canada, 24 Mar. 2017, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/youth.

David Machin, Theo Van Leeuwen. “Toys as discourse: children’s war toys and the war on terror.” Toys as discourse: Children’s war toys and the war on terror | Critical Discourse Studies Vol. 6, No.1, February 2009, 51-63

Martin Armstrong. “Propaganda & Children – Always the First Target of Leaders.” Propaganda & Children – Always the First Target of Leaders | Armstrong Economics, www.armstrongeconomics.com/uncategorized/propaganda-children-always-the-first-target-of-leaders/.

Stacy Gillis, Emma Short. “Children’s experiences of World War One.” The British Library, The British Library, 20 Jan. 2014, www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/childrens-experiences-of-world-war-one.

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.

Morale in “Wow Comics no. 17”

Introduction

The Second World War brought many changes to the lives of Canadian children. With fathers and brothers being deployed in the battle overseas, mothers suddenly joining the work force, shortages of food, rations, and talk of Nazi spies and Japanese invasion, the echoes of war were ubiquitous in the lives of children (Cook). Undoubtedly troubling for them, one of the only offers of escape for children was comic books. Enter the “Canadian Whites”: a series of comic books created by Canadian publishing companies that filled the void left by the removal of the American popular media when the King administration passed the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) (Bell). The “Whites” lifespan was short, but nonetheless, their run fulfilled a significant role in the lives of Canadian children.

In this article, I will examine issue no. 17 of Wow Comics (a member of the “Whites” family), in particular the narratives that focus on themes of war and violence, and how those narratives quite paradoxically supply readers with a more optimistic outlook on the war they were living through. By selling children a world of clear-cut narratives to situate themselves in, where good and evil were easily distinguished, the heroes always won, and life at home was never shown as being in danger, Wow Comics perhaps served as a means of upholding morale in their lives.

Defining Morale

For the purposes of this article, I will be using the term “morale” as a measure of optimism held by Canadian children about the war. Advertisements, propaganda, and other products of pop culture (including comics) that work to improve or positively shape consumer’s outlook on the war effort can be seen as upholding morale. Additionally, anything that helped kids to orient themselves in the confusion of wartime, or provide some sense of comfort and security can also be seen as upholding morale.

Context of Consumer Culture

Figure 1. Government issued propaganda used Hitler’s image to discourage spending. H. V. Shaw (a). “Save to beat the devil,” from “Canada at War Forums”, Canada at War, Jan 2010.

When accessed digitally, there is a tendency to forget that artifacts of history belonged to a broader sociocultural context. We must then keep in mind that Wow Comics was not only a product of a consumerist culture, but highly successful ones. During the war, there was a tension between the government’s “anti-spending” propaganda campaign, and the companies that naturally wanted to keep up consumption. Businesses, to protect their success, had to be tactical about their approach to advertising. As Graham Broad puts it in his book A Small Price To Pay, advertisers’ initial response to the war was to maintain a “business as usual approach” (50). However, as the government continued developing their propaganda to align spending with treason (e.g. using Hitler’s image in anti-spending campaigns as seen in Figure 1), advertisers shifted tactics to attaching social significance to their products (Broad 61). To accomplish this, advertisers started constructing the purchase of every commodity as being useful to the war effort (77). In doing so, advertisers inverted the government’s “serve by saving” ideology into a “serve by spending” call to action. As a result, advertisers made consumerism a mode of participation in the war effort, and boosted morale in the lives of Canadians by giving them the sensation that their spending was in some way helping to win the war.

Commodifying the War

Figure 2. Toy gun advertisement. Wow Comics, no. 17, 1943, Bell Features Publishing, pp. 57.

Wow Comics fits into the consumer climate in a similar way: by working both as a source of morale and a piece of propaganda. Two advertisements in the back of Wow Comics no. 17 that promote toy guns to its readers serve as an illuminating example. The advertisements invite children to role-play as soldiers with models guns that are “Just like the real thing!” (Wow Comics 57). Margaret Higonnet, doing research on military themes in children’s culture, argues that toys can be used to domesticate war, “[granting] distance and [permitting] us to claim mastery” (“War Toys” 119-120), and we can see such a process taking place here. Purchasing these toy guns would allow children to recreate the battles they hear about in school and read about in these comics, relocating the war into an imaginary space where they have control. In other words, children can use these toy guns to imagine themselves as brave heroes of war. Since we know that toys are often employed by children to help them navigate through uncertain times (“War Toys” 118), this reconfiguration of war allows children to feel better equipped to deal with the changes wartime brought into their lives, and thereby boost morale. The advertisements also work as propaganda, as they encourage children in their play to embody soldiers fighting on the “good side” (i.e. the Canadian military) against evil (i.e. enemies of Canada, Nazis). Rehearsal of war, especially as it is informed by the advertisements and themes found in Wow Comics serves to reproduce the ideological binary of good vs. evil and solidifies the justification of the Canadian war effort.

“Hair-Raising Features”

While several of Wow Comics no. 17’s stories are based in the military genre, its representations of war are quite distant from the realities. The front cover of the lets readers know it is filled with action. The cover depicts a German U-Boat being blown up, complete with enemy bodies flung airborne, and crashing waves. In the bottom left corner is a text box that reads “‘The Penguin Strikes’ Plus 5 Other Hair-Raising Features,” advertising that at least six of the contained stories are action packed. Higonnet argues, “One of the paradoxes of war, as it is represented in children’s books, is that battle becomes distilled as individual combat” (2). Her theory applies here: while some of the comic’s stories are situated directly in the war effort, there is never a battlefield full of soldiers or towns under siege. Instead, comics like “The Penguin” take place on a nondescript coastline, with a single protagonist going up against a single German villain, “the Luger” (Wow Comics 3). Similarly, “Whiz Wallace” takes place in India, and has a battle between the protagonists and the villainous “Spymaster” and his henchmen (Wow Comics 19). The comics’ representations of war take place in contained (and due the lack of specificity in location, almost secret) places, where the violence does not reach innocent lives. Such representations reduce war to a singular heroic man seeking out and infallibly beating up singular villains without causing any auxiliary destruction. However, the reality war is far more complex, violent, and senseless than that heroic process. As a scholar on the “White”, Ivan Kocmarek, remarks that the “Canada Whites” were likely one of the only sources of information about the war for children (156), and this representation could therefore be interpreted as a realistic depiction for young readers. Appearing so controlled and one-sided, the war might have then appeared less scary for kids, as it upheld morale about the likelihood of Allied success.

Have no fear!: Heroism in the “Whites”

The cast of heroes in Wow Comics no. 17 is not what one would expect compared to classic comic heroes such as Superman. Instead of supernatural powers, the Canadian heroes used cunning, detective skills, some weapons, and their fists to dole out justice. They are not superheroes, but vigilantes, spies, and adventurers who fought for good and exhibited bravura in the face of evil. “The Penguin,” shows a lone hero in a penguin mask foiling a Nazi plot to bomb the Canadian coast without ever coming face-to-face with the enemy, merely outsmarting them by placing one of their own bombs in the U-Boat’s periscope (Dingle 5). Beyond the immediate threat of a bombing, the deadly weapon is aptly named the “demoralizer bomb” (Wow Comics 3). The Penguin is therefore not just protecting physical bodies, but also the collective spirit of Canadians, pointing to the importance of morale during wartime. Similarly, the comic “Guy Powers: Secret Agent” shows a Canadian detective uncovering a Nazi sabotage scheme in a Canadian factory. In the end, the hero expertly punches out the Nazi spy when he tries to pull a gun on him after being found out. What this common theme of self-defence reveals is a uniquely Canadian approach to the war where violence is used as a means of defence, as opposed to an all-out offensive means to victory. While these tales openly confess that the home front is always a vulnerable target, they also remind young readers that there will always be heroes that will stop the infiltrating evil before it can cause harm, further providing them with comfort, and maintaining the good vs. evil binary that justifies the war effort.

Heroism outside the war

Several of Wow Comics no. 17’s “Hair-Raising Features” take place in a setting outside of WWII. Regardless, they still keep up morale in a similar way to their militaristic counterparts by continuing to reinforce the hero vs. villain binary. As an example, in the comic “The Phantom Rider,” a vigilante hero (The Phantom Rider) rides through the Wild West seeking vengeance against the gun-wielding bandits that killed his father. On his quest, he finds the criminals, but realizes they are planning on stealing a herd of cattle from a local town. The Rider then proceeds to trap the criminals and turn them over to the authorities, saving the day. This comic reinforces the idea that justice is achieved by a clearly good hero fighting against clearly bad villains. When the sheriff says “He never breaks his word, always helps the one in need,” (Wow Comics 35) readers are further reminded that this story is an example of the Rider’s time-proven process.  The echoing heroism in the comics that exist outside of the war continue to remind the reader that there are good people who protect the innocent from evil.

Constructing villains

Figure 3. Panel from “Whiz Wallace” showing the Spymaster. Wow Comics, no. 17, 1943, Bell Features Publishing, pp. 21.

Although the Axis powers were generally understood as evil, the brevity of the comic’s stories required their visual representations of evil to be done efficiently. To do this, illustrators of the “Canadian Whites” tended to rely on stereotypical depictions of Canada’s enemies to communicate not only villainy, but also race and nationality.  Perhaps the most striking example of this is Thomson’s design of the Japanese villain “The Spymaster” in “Whiz Wallace.” The Spymaster is bald, fat, has slanted eyes, and a fu manchu (Figure 4). Although skin tone is absent in the black and white comics, he is described by one of the white protagonists as a “yellow beast” (Wow Comics 22).  Additionally, he possesses a magic that allows him to control the minds of men, and is described as being “mysterious” (Wow Comics 17), ascribing to him a sort of mysticism frequently linked to Asiatic peoples. The combination of both these visual and textual elements construct a portrait of the enemy that is immediately distinguishable to both the protagonists and the readers. This representation shows the “bad guys” as being easy to identify, and in turn, makes them easy for the heroes to find and stop. Children reading these comics might then feel more confident in the understood heroic process when it is demonstrated as being so streamlined and a simple matter of finding the stereotypical villain and swiftly putting a stop to them.

Moreover, German villains were constructed in a similar way to the Japanese: by drawing on stereotypes. The Luger in Dingle’s “The Penguin” is the perfectly designed villain: square jaw, bald, scar located on his head, devilish smirk, and even a monocle. In addition to drawing on the familiar white villain tropes, the German accent is transcribed in the dialogue to reify the connection to German nationality (as if the U-Boat and Nazi flag were not enough). “What is the hold-up” thus becomes “Vat iss der hold-up” (Wow Comics 5). Villains, then, can be recognized not only through visual signals, but also aural ones.

 Conclusion

For the price of 10 cents, Wow Comics offered children worlds parallel to their lived realities where war was not as scary as it seemed. In line with the trends of the era’s consumer culture, Bell Features was successful in turning its products into commodities with social significance in a wartime context. Within these comics, war is reduced to a game of cat and mouse where the hero hunts down and inevitably stops the villain from doing harm. Giving children a more simplistic perspective of war, a complex adult phenomenon, perhaps helped them to feel less afraid during a time of great fear and uncertainty, or at least have a stronger faith in the success of the soldiers fighting for them. Additionally, through advertising, these comics invited children to recreate these war narratives in a way that made them feel in control of their situation. Amid the sea change the Second World War brought to the lives of Canadian children, the Wow Comics fulfilled the important duty of keeping up their morale and fending off fear.


Works Cited

Bell, J., & Viau, M. “Canadian Golden Age of Comics” from “Beyond the Funnies,” Jun. 2002, Library and Archives Canada. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/comics/027002-8300-e.html

Broad, G. A Small Price to Pay: Consumer Culture on the Canadian Home Front, 1939-45. UBC Press, 2013, Vancouver, Canada.

Cook, T. “Canadian Children and the Second World War,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Apr. 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-children-and-wwii/

Higonnet, M. “War Games.” The Lion and the Unicorn, vol. 22, issue 1, John Hopkins University Press, 1998, Brooklyn, United States.

—. “War Toys: Breaking and Remaking in Great War Narratives.” The Lion and the Unicorn, vol. 31, issue 2, John Hopkins University Press, 2007, Baltimore, United States.

Kocmarek, I. “Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way: The War-Time Comics of Bell Features Publications.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, vol 43, issue 1, 2016, Canada.

Shaw, H. V. (a). “Save to beat the devil,” from “Canada at War Forums”, Canada at War, Jan. 2010. http://www.canadaatwar.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=2486

Wow Comics, no. 17, Oct. 1943, Bell Features Publishing. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166679.pdf


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.

Women, the Second World War and Misrepresentation in Wow! Comics No. 14

Good, E (a). WOW Comics, No. 14. June 1943. Commercial Signs of Canada: Cover. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada

Women, the Second World War, and Misrepresentation

During World War II, women were represented as dependent, beautiful, and helpless, especially within comic books. This can be shown through the depiction of the female characters within my comic. The way women were represented differs drastically from the way women actually were at this time, and all that they have contributed to Canada today. Through the analysis of the 14th issue of WOW! COMICS, and further secondary research, this paper will compare the representation of women within this comic during World War 2, to their roles within Canadian society and its establishment, and the importance of both. This argument is important because the way women are portrayed within these comics is a misrepresentation of women during this period, and  what women have contributed to the Second World War; thus limiting the knowledge of the  impact women have had on Canadian social/economic development.

Damsel in Distress Trope

In the 14th issue of WOW COMICS! the stories focus mainly on male protagonists that are seen to be hyper-masculine, and tend to solve their conflicts with other ch

E.T. Legault. Panel from “Dart Daring and the Rendezvous” Wow Comics, No. 14, June 1943, Commercial Signs of Canada

aracters through fighting and other acts of violence. According to Facciani et al., “female characters are often portrayed as being in need of saving by heroic male characters” (217). An example of this, is the character Loraine, who is in the story “Dart Daring and the Dreadful Rendezvous.” (Legalilt, E., 5-13). In this story, she is seen as the main male protagonist’s- Dart Daring-love interest and nothing else. As shown in Figure 1, Loraine is captured by pirates. The frame centres on the

“damsel-in-distress” trope, and implies that women are required to look their best no matter what situation they are in.

Lack of Acknowledgment for Female Characters

Another way women are misrepresented within this issue, is the unacknowledged opinion and voice of the female characters. An example of this would be the story “JEFF WARING” (Karn). In this story, one of the main male protagonists Jeff Waring is held captive by one of the antagonistic soldiers (22, Karn). Kay, the daughter of the second male protagonist, Professor Allen, sees that Waring needs help (22, Karn). Instead of fighting back against the soldier, Kay is shown running back to her father’s lab and telling him what she saw (22, Karn). When Jeff is rescued by Professor Allan, he thanks Kay for saving the day by acting the way she did (23, Karn). Through the act of Kay going to her father, it further implies that women should be dependent on men and cannot solve problems without the help of a man. In addition, Kay is not recognized for her part in the rescue of Jeff Waring. When Jeff thanks her for saving the day, Kay deflects the ‘thank you’ and centres again on Jeff, asking if he is alright (23, Karn). Not only does this show that women’s contributions are not acknowledge, but having Kay divert the recognition she does receive back on to the main male character, the comic seems to encourage young female readers to put men’s feelings, thoughts and opinions above their own. This correlates with the authors’ claim that the focus on women’s beauty and physical appearance in comics take precedence over their achievements in the story (Facciani et al., 217).

Furthermore, women in my comic are shown talking in one or two sentences that are either cries for help, or showing gratitude towards the male protagonist; or they do not speak at all and presented are presented as side character. An example of this portrayal of women is in the story “It All Started This Way” (Griffin). Specifically, on page 33, the main character and narrator of the story has moved to Ontario with his wife and just reunited with his old friend Al who is now his neighbour. In the small frame that shows the visual of the two men meeting, Al’s wife accompanies him. She is dressed sophisticatedly and is shown to be a beautiful woman. Despite her being there during this meeting, not a word is said from her nor is a name even given. In fact, there is no mention of her at all from either Vic or Al. This lack of validation of her very existence, enforces the idea that women are to be seen and not heard.

Benevolent Sexism

A prime example of what Facciani et al., call “benevolent sexism”-the involvement of viewing women in stereotypical and restrictive roles…which require the protection of men (217)-can be seen in the story of Whiz Wallace. This story focuses on a fighter pilot who rescued an unconscious female character named Elaine (47, Legault). Their plane crashes and Whiz travels through the scorching desert of Africa to “find help for poor Elaine” (48, Legault). It can be seen on page 49, that Whiz collapses with “the lifeless burden of Elaine.” The use of the word burden and the fact that Elaine is unconscious, further portrays women as something that men are required to look after. Additionally, when Whiz wakes up after being kidnapped by a king, he asks to see Elaine. The king reassures Whiz, stating that “there’s no need to worry. Your young lady is safe…” This subtle use of possessiveness implies that women are forms of property that should be cared for and looked after by men. In relation, Elaine, being reunited with Whiz, tells him that she’s ready to leave when he says (51, Legault). She is shown as being dependent on him to make decisions, instead of stating her thoughts and opinion on the matter.

In the story “Crash Carson”, the female character Jacqueline helps Crash and his partner defeat a group of Nazi soldiers (36, Tremblay), and offers the men horses as a form of transportation (37, Tremblay). Although she is described as ‘heroic’ (38, Tremblay), the story focuses on the romantic interest that Crash Carson has for Jacqueline, evident by the promise for him to come back after the war is over (37, Tremblay), and the kiss that results in Jaqueline telling Crash that she will wait for him. Crash does thank Jaqueline, but not for assisting in the fight against the Nazis, but for her kindness. The dismissal of her actions is followed by Crash’s description of Jaqueline as “a nice kid” who he’ll “think of throughout the war” (38). This description demeans Jaqueline to a love interest, altering the focus of her heroism and strength to a mere act of kindness. By belittling Jaqueline’s actions within the story, and all she does to help Crash and his partner, instead focusing on the romantic aspect of the story and shifting her character to a love interest in such a subtle way, further verifies the idea that women’s accomplishments are deemed secondary to those of men and their focus should be on romantic relationships. In relation to this, in situations where a female character helps a male character, the male character is older than the female character, and female characters are generally romantically attracted to the male characters that are helping them (White, 254).

 

Sexism of Women in World War II

All of the representations of women in my comic relates to the diminishment of the acknowledgement of women’s work during World War II. Although women were “praised for their bravery, loyalty to soldiers, steadfastness, and competence” (Honey, 677), they were still characterized as “slackers who were driven to their downfall by ambition or bitterness” (Honey, 677). During World War II, the Federal Government intended to draw upon the services of women (“Women in Industry”, 1939).The government also believed that “there exists a large reserve of women-power, which under proper management and direction could be very profitably utilized for the expansion of the war effort” (“Women in Industry”, 1939). By stating that women need to be “under proper management” and “direction” reinforces the idea that women are incapable of doing anything without the assistance of men.

Furthermore, the Federal Government only dispatched women who were physically strong to work in industrial work (“Women in Industry”, 1939). The Governm

Figure 3, Beauty on Duty

ent’s Department of Labour were found to “take precautions…to ensure that employers in their eagerness to increase output do not make demands upon women which they are not capable of fulfilling” (“Women in Industry”, 1939). The special precautions that were taken for women, were not taken or given to men, which implies that women were seen in the social eye as less capable of doing men’s work without some form of aid.

As shown in Figure 3, a woman’s “beauty” was something women still had to keep up in terms of social views. By having advertisements like these, focus is taken away from the important jobs and roles that women held during this time, and instead, focused on the

importance of physical beauty. Additionally, as explained in Proudly She Marches (Marsh, 1943), “women still had to maintain idealized beauty while fighting…” (00:05:09). In Figure 4, it can be seen that even though this is an advertisement for wom

To Make Men Free

en, the focus is still on men. By having the title “To make men free”, this advertisement centres on men and not women. Also, having this advertisement read “…you will share the gratitude of a nation when victory is ours” makes it seem like what the men are doing during this time, is more important than everything women did in order to keep Canada going during World war II

 

 

Women’s Accomplishments in World War II

 

Throughout WWII, women accomplished a lot that aided in Canada’s functioning and running as a country. Of these accomplishments, one of the most important is their placements in the work force. Gouldon & Oliviette (2013) found that the male labour force dropped by 9 million (257), and the women’s labour force, increased by 7 million (257). Having a drastic decrease in jobs for men due to drafting, opened many opportunities for women to take over these jobs and create a name for themselves. Most of these women, according to Honey (1983), “were predominantly from the working class” (683).

Additionally, Moniz (2016) found that “…assuming a ‘place’ in the nation war effort meant increased domestic responsibilities, volunteering, enlisting in the armed forces, and joining the civilian workforce” (81). As mentioned in The Home Front (Hawes, 1940), women also aided in the financial assistance and the war budget (00:04:00). Women did everything from working on planes to help production lines move faster (00:05:06) to helping foreign men by sewing their uniforms and aiding them in promotional work-based learning (00:05:51).

Women were also responsible for creating the Canadian Red Cross Organization, that was made up of women to help aid the war away from their homes (00:08:36). For this organization, they made hospital clothes, bandages etc. for refugees and injured men (00:09:26).  Furthermore, in To The Ladies! (Balla, 1946), 45,000 women took over the jobs of men during the Second World War (00:01:24). Women also worked on assembly lines, and used intricate machinery (00:01:57).

Specifically, volunteering women worked in “hostess houses”, giving their spare time to the men of the war (00:04:49). Volunteers also helped out hospitals that were short of nurses, giving care (physical/social) to veterans (00:05:00). Women used The Red Cross to send care packages and food to men overseas and in camps (00:05:14). They also created a program for price control (00:07:44), and helped beat inflation by reporting buying problems across Canada (00:08:05-00:08:17).  As explained by Marsh (1943), women took over male-dominated jobs so they could serve overseas (00:06:38).

Furthermore, women taught classes of men in fields like Aircraft Recognition (00:10:25). They also took many jobs in drafting of ships, and record keeping (00:12:22-13:09). According to Marsh, women played an important role as technical experts in the Army (0:16:09). Women also handled every form of motorized vehicles (00:16:30), which, along with industrial work, was seen as a male job. Within this film, Marsh also explains that “the safety and effectiveness of our Armed Forces rest on the new and exciting work performed by Canadian Women” (00:16:49).

 

Conclusion

 

Given the way women were represented in WOW! Comics No. 14, compared to all of the things women accomplished and contributed to the Second World War, it can be seen that the history of women was misrepresented at the time. This comic painted a socially acceptable (at the time) woman, who was dependent and always looked her best, which related to the societal norms of the war where women were concerned, but did not reflect how hard working and committed these women were during World War II.

The Reality of Indigenous People

Copyright 2017 Sarah Patriarca, Ryerson University

Introduction

During World War II, the family dynamic in Canada changed as fathers and brothers went off to fight in the war while the women were left to not only tend to the children, but also take over occupations typically held by males. As children were more or less left in the dark, the rise of comics provided Canadian children with a new source of entertainment. The comics illustrated different super heroes and plots based around the war at the time. Most of these stories included crude stories or depictions of events that helped the children to better understand what was going on without revealing too much for them to worry. In retrospect, the comics are a very good distraction to these kids. However, looking at the comics now as young adults, we can clearly see the crude humor of racism, and the facts of the war are displayed throughout these comics. In my comic, Wow Comic Issue. 16, there was one comic in particular that illustrated crude humour towards Indigenous people specifically. The specific comic I will be looking at is the “Jeff Warring” comic that uses the character of an Indigenous man and native setting to represent the Indigenous people in a certain way.  The research question I will be analyzing will be: How are the Indigenous People displayed in the comics? I believe that this comic displays Indigenous people as inferior to European Canadians, which in turn makes the audience perceive them in a different way. By using the simplistic language and illustrations of the comic, I will be able to show the difference between both characters. This topic will not only shed some light on how First Nations were seen as, but also give some perspective against stereotypical beliefs. Over the years, the First Nations of Canada have been characterized in a certain way that depict stereotypes and representations that are false, usually made by European Canadians.

 

European Canadians vs. Indigenous Canadians

In addition, the relationship between Indigenous Canadians and European Canadians are both the same in reality and in the comic. This relationship can be seen throughout the comic with the use of its illustrations and the text from speech/thought bubbles to analyze it more closely. In examining this, the reader can see that the European Canadian seems to have a speech of a superior tone over the Indigenous Canadian. The speech shown in the comic can be seen as very simplistic once the First Nation talks compared to when the European Canadian talks. For example, in my comic Jeff Warring would be considered as the European Canadian whereas the Chief of the tribe would be considered to be the Indigenous person. Throughout the entire comic, Jeff Warring speaks down toward the Chief in a condescending manner. It is also good to notice that the speech bubbles when Jeff Warring is talking contains more words, whereas the Chief have very little to no words involved in the speech bubble. Another way of looking at the difference between both races would be through the illustrations provided in the comic. The illustrations and the speech bubbles help the audience to see the difference of both characters when analyzing it. These very small details that show the comparison between both races. The illustrations are built to tell the viewer the story, while also building up knowledge for the reader as well. However, there are other stories that involve Indigenous people that are not

Source: Native American Heroes in the Comics: An Overview (Part 1), Kevin Breen, Blue Corn Comics (2005). © Whitman Publishing Company; 1st Edition (1940)

as inferior to European Canadians. In some comics, the Indigenous people are seen as doctors, business people and other higher positions in occupations (Dither and Larsen, 2010). This shift of representations displays how Indigenous people helped out in the war, even though this is rarely shown in history. On the contrary, there is one example where the comic displays the Indigenous person in more of a popular demand than the European Canadian character. The comic examines a Native hero, Big Chief Woohoo. Originally, he first appeared alongside a European Canadian hero named Gusto, however soon after Big Chief Woohoo, got the lead role in his own comic. Although, in this perspective, the Indigenous character was seen as superior over the European Canadian characters, the reasoning why Big Chief Woohoo became so popular was because of pop culture’s stereotypical approach towards Indigenous people. It is noted that “He fit the role of the ignorant savage” (Breen 2005) and much of the reason he became so popular is because the author made him ignorant to technology. This is a great example of the use of using illustrations and simplistic language to help depict a character. The only reason his character became a favorite to the audience is because of the crude humor and illustrations that made him seem inferior to a white character like Gusto. “You couldn’t find a better example of the ignorant savage than Wahoo. Besides the language cited above, the way he wrote letters in pictures, and his attempts to ride a car like a horse.” (Breen, 2005).  Even though, Big Chief Woohoo, is seen as superior to Gusto, he only became popular because his character lacked knowledge that supposedly more European Canadian’s have. The illustrations in the Jeff Warring comic specifically, reflect this approach in the differentiation of both races.

 

Stereotypes in Appearance: What Do You Think?

Furthermore, the illustrations in the comic help to support the case of how Indigenous people are perceived to its wider audience. The illustrations aid the reader to look deeper into the meaning of the comic and pick out certain characteristics that stand out when looking at the relationship between European Canadians and Indigenous people. When looking at the comic character of Jeff Warring and the Chief, the audience can see that the relation between both characters are very different. The comic displays Jeff Warring has an average looking man, with appealing features that captures the eyes of the audience. While in comparison, the

Murray Karn. Panel from “Jeff Warring.” Wow Comics, No. 16, August 1943, Bell Features and Publishing Company: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166678.pdf

Chief is made to look non appealing, with features that get overlooked. When looking at the comic now, the reader can see that the illustrations tend to favour the appearance of a stereotypical Indigenous persona, and also display stereotypical movements in the illustrations of how they would have acted. This misinterpretation and inappropriate facts used against Native Americans shifts the audience’s perception on how they are viewed. Comic books, specifically a part of Pop Culture, details the prominence of anti-Indianism in comic books, particularly as means through which Euro-American authors and audiences have made claims on and through Indianness (King, 2008).  The audience when viewing the comic, takes the illustrations of the comic and reads in between the lines and perceives in a way that makes sense to them. For example, if the Chief is displayed with a racial appearance that goes with the stereotypes, as seen in the picture below, then the audience will see the Indigenous Chief in that manner because it was handed to them. These illustrations prove that our perceptions are made based on what the media shows us. In particular, the media and general sources, such as Encyclopedia’s and news documents, only display the negative aspects of the Indigenous people’s history and their war efforts as well.

 

Are the Media and the Government the Real Culprits?

Moreover, when researching this paper, I took note that most of the information about Indigenous people’s efforts in the war were erased from the mass media. This became very problematic when dealing with this topic because sources for this essay became scarce. In the perspective of the audience, this becomes an issue because lack of information means that many readers are not educated on actual facts. Instead, the media are sources that display these stereotypical approaches, which is the only thing the people know. We as millennials know in the 21st century, the mass media has become one that encompasses all knowledge and is used in everyday activities. As the people, we cannot deny that the media is a very powerful thing that can control how people perceive the world. In particular, history is effective and powerful, as we have come to realize with past historian rulers, whether they produced positive or negative impacts. However, in regards to Indigenous people in the media, it has been left out in majority of sources that Indigenous people did aid in wartimes. However, North American resources have wiped out majority of their efforts and in turn, shifting all the contributions on to the European Canadians, glorifying them in a sense. This is a problematic aspect because society forms a stigma and stereotypical approach to the Indigenous people rather than educating themselves. “The paper concludes that it is a responsibility of society to educate all students to understand that any portrayal of history comes from a particular vantage point and to understand that dominant society privileges some representations and disadvantages others” (Iseke-Barnes, 2005). People lose out on greater knowledge when the government decides to erase their efforts from the mass media. More so, the government is part of the blame for the stereotypical and prejudice the Indigenous people face in the comic, and in reality. In particular, what I have observed from my comic, is that women play a huge role in part of the prejudice that is associated with the Indigenous people. Looking at the comic from a child’s perspective, it can be

Murray Karn. Panel from “Jeff Warring.” Wow Comics, No. 16, August 1943, Bell Features and Publishing Company: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166678.pdf

seen that there could be a romantic association with Jeff Warring and the Chief daughter, Tana, who is the main female character apart of the comic. However, looking at the comic through the lens of a researcher, you can observe that the relationship between Jeff Warring and Tana is submissive and dominant. Tana’s character goes against her own father, to help Jeff Warring escape and fight against her own kind. This can be related to the events of a women named Dorothy Chartrand, who was a part of the Metis tribe and had to be a service woman because her husband joined the war. In this journal article, she recounts her experience and the reasons she joined, as well as how she was treated and discriminated for her race. Her “grandmother’s teachings about oppression and its operation in the lives of Métis” in which she described the role of government to take away “your pride, your dignity, [and] all the things that make you a living soul. When they are sure they have everything, they give you a blanket to cover your shame” (Iseke and Leisa, 2013). They explain how even though their efforts were purely voluntary and not paid, the government still discriminated against them. This point in time, really shaped the lives of these women and were a critical point for these Indigenous women. The character Tana was stripped of everything, and aided Jeff Warring. In relation to the mass media, pop culture makes it so that when we perceive it as an audience, we see it as two characters falling in love, when in actuality it has a deeper meaning that children reading these comics will not understand. Children at a young age reading these comics take that interpretation and bring the stereotypical information with them into their adolescent and adult years.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, there is a very big separation between European Canadians and Indigenous Canadians that an observer can see in the comic and in reality. In particular, to the Jeff Warring comic story in Wow Comics, we can see this relationship when looking at both illustrations and speech bubbles that are in the comic issue. The speech bubble’s that the Chief uses is more simplistic language, whereas the European Canadian, Jeff Warring uses more terminology that can make the audience see the superior and inferior complex between both characters. The illustrations are used to make Jeff Warring appealing to the eye, whereas the Chief is the latter, which creates an image in the audience’s head of what Indigenous people are supposed to look like. The audience can take note that the mass media and government play a huge role in how we interpret Indigenous people. Due to the fact that there are no records of Indigenous people which makes people have a lack of knowledge when it comes to the topic. As well, the observer can notice that the relationship between women and government, is related to Jeff Warring and Tana, which can seem to be romantic when in actuality it is something far greater. In result, with the use of illustrations and simplistic language in the comic, we can see the meaning behind the superior and inferior relationship between European and Indigenous Canadians. Indigenous people are seen to be inferior, that even with the efforts of being portrayed in a comic, popularity will always be predominant for the European Canadian.

 

Work Cited

Dither , Jason, and Soren Larsen. “Originality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004.” Originality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004, 2010.

Judy, Iseke M., and Desmoulins A. Leisa. “Critical Events: Metis Servicewomen’s WWII Stories with Dorothy Chartrand .” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, 2013, pp. 29–54. Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database.

King, C. Richard. “Alter/Native Heroes: Native Americans, Comic Books, and the Struggle for Self-Definition.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, vol. 9, no. 2, 31 Dec. 2008, pp. 214–223., doi:10.1177/1532708608330259.

Iseke-Barnes, Judy. “Misrepresentations of Indigenous History and Science: Public Broadcasting, the Internet, and Education.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 26.2 (2005): 149-65. Web. 11 Nov. 2017

Breen, Kevin. “Native American Heroes in the Comics: An Overview (Part 1).” Blue Corn Comics — Native American Heroes in the Comics:  An Overview (Part 1), Blue Corn Comics, 28 Sept. 2005, www.bluecorncomics.com/kbreen.htm.

 

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.

 

Physical Mediums: The Social, Cultural and Physical Histories of Wow Comics

©Copyright 2017 Tony Carlucci, Ryerson University

 

Comics’ Beginnings:

Not Just a Visual Medium: A Physical One

Fig.1. Adrian, Dingle. Cover, Wow Comics. No.20, Digital, Bell Features Publishing: http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166682.pdf

In 1942 Cy Bell, the owner of Bell Features, borrowed $75,000 from the Industrial Development Bank and spent $50,000 on a used offset lithography printing press from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In Bell’s first print run of Wow Comics, issue No.1 sold 52,000 copies and before the war ended, a total of 20,000,000 were distributed. Wow Comics issue No.20 was printed on newsprint stock using offset photolithography and two-tone color printing (Hirsh).

Often, comic studies focus on visual illustrations and the meaning they produce through textual and visual elements. The visual content act as entry points for the reader to understand the deeper social, cultural and historical complexities of the comic. To read Wow Comics issue No.20 and experience it solely as a visual expression of ideas would be to ignore the deeper meaning we can draw from its physical properties. David Pantalony, museum curator and historian, asserts that the physical histories of an artifact act to enrich and deepen how we understand that artifact (52). The following paper will delve into Wow Comics’ physical qualities, paper and printing processes, and their lesser known social and cultural histories. Marshal McLuhan’s famous argument “the medium is the message” will build upon Pantalony’s ideas by showing how the physical elements of the comic, its medium, not only enrich our understanding but create meaning (1). Finally, Ian Hague’s insights on how touch plays a key role in experiencing comic books as a physical medium will be useful for exploring how Wow Comics as a physical artifact connotes different meaning than its digital counterpart.  What happens when we explore the physical histories of Wow Comics issue No.20?  Let’s find out.

Physical Entry Points: Historical Complexities of Canada’s Lithographic Industry

Before we begin our exploration of Wow Comics’ lithographic history, an illustration of Pantalony’s methodologies will serve to clarify our discussion. In Pantalony’s work, Biography of an Artifact: The Theratron Junior and Canada’s Atomic Age, he argues that museums frequently fail to explain their artifacts rich social, cultural and historical complexities (52). Pantalony exemplified his argument by exploring the physical artifact called Theratron Junior, a green radiotherapy device that lives on display at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. In his pursuit for new complexity, he uncovered that the Theratron Juniors green paint reflected the Canadian governments intention to entice commercial and aesthetic sensibilities of prospective foreign buyers (61). The green paint,  an element of its medium, challenged a traditional narrative that the Theratron Junior was a single purpose medical attention device. In comic studies, visual illustration dominates the traditional narrative that meaning is produced solely through illustration. But those visual illustrations did not appear on the comics’ pages by chance, they have a complicated history.

From first hand accounts of Cy Bell we know Bell Features’ offset printing press came with unexpected difficulties.

Fig.2. Frank, Booth. Brigdens Limited (1893-1912), Bay St., w. side, between Wellington & King Sts W.; INTERIOR, wood engraving shop. Photograph, 1900. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.

Bell explains: “hiring men to run it was another matter….lithography has always been a very tight-lipped business” (Hirsh). Bell’s insights allow us to peer inside the window of Canada’s lithographic history. In 1870 lithography was first established as a trade on the east coast of Canada (Davis 154). As lithography techniques progressed into the late 19th and early 20th centuries a new form of printing came to prominence: photolithography. Photolithography’s invention caused a disruption in the economic and social fabric of Canadian labour.  With its adoption into Canada’s graphic arts industry in the early 20th century a cultural tension was born between early pressmen, lithographers and photo engravers. The tension arose from new skill sets that were required to operate offset lithography and photoengraving machines. The pressmen’s union wanted to learn the new skill sets to establish a dominant role over the lithographers and photoengravers (Davis 145).  The pressmen sought support from the photoengravers but were denied in large part because the photoengravers union was far less established than the Lithographers of North America or the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union (David 146).

Bell’s comments and the historical tensions between pressmen, lithographers and photoengravers illuminate the deep social, cultural and economic complexities of Canada’s graphics arts industry. Now when we observe the comic’s dark ink pressed onto the thin, beige pages our understanding of how those images were produced is altered. They are not just creative fictions of one individuals mind but rather were born from the struggle between professional unions to maintain economic dominance in a shifting landscape. Through this research we produce new meaning from the comic’s medium that enriches our understanding and illuminates a narrative that has been, for the most part, hidden inside the pages of Wow Comics.

Parts UnKnown: Pulp & Paper, Newsprint and Canadian Invention

Wow comics was produced on newsprint, a form of cheap paper used primarily by the newspaper industry.  According to Marshal McLuhan, the medium (TV, radio, books, comics, etc) is more relevant in conveying meaning than the content of that medium (2).  McLuhan gives the example that form and function are often separated (5). He states, individuals ask what a “painting is about” but not “what a house or a dress is about” (5). What he means is by asking what a “painting is about” we acknowledge both form, literal paint on canvas, and function, artistic expression. For Wow Comics, we need to ask how the comics form, a photolithographic paper product, creates meaning in relationship to its function, artistic expression. For that answer, we turn to the history of newsprint.

Fig.3. n.d. Canada’s Northern timber lands provide the millions of tons of paper used yearly by the Canadian newspaper industry. The Star gets a large quantity of its supply from the Thorold pulp mills, where mountains of potential reading matter are piled. Around 350 tons of paper are used by The Star Weekly alone, every week in the year. Photograph, 1941. From the Toronto Star Photo Archives. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.

Newsprint was invented in 1844 by Charles Fenerty, a native of Nova Scotia (Burger 32). During the period before Fenerty’s discovery, rags were the main material used to create paper. In the 1840’s Europe sanctioned rag exportation and Canada’s demand for a new source of paper arose (Burger 31). Fenerty discovered that wood pulp could be ground and turned into a paper product (Burger 33). His discovery was revolutionary because it allowed Canada to begin exporting one of its most abundant resources: wood (Burger 33). The newspapers took advantage of the new, cheap source of paper at a scale which was previously not available (Kuhlberg).

McLuhan notes that the “message” of a medium can be understood by “the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs” (1).  He gives an example of how the railway altered the way in which humans lived and worked (1). By parallel, the newspaper industry was able to produce and distribute a much larger volume of content to a vastly larger audience. This shift changed our relationship to paper from one of value and preservation to volume and impermanence. By that very extension we find ourselves back at Wow Comics.  The physical grainy and fragile pages of Wow Comics issue No.20 connotes its own message: it was not meant to be preserved. The origins of newsprint as the physical medium of newspaper industries also tells us Canadians’ relationship to newsprint paper was ephemeral, meant to be consumed and discarded each day. The physical medium not only provides an opportunity to enrich and complicate the physical history of the artifact but it also produces meaning through its form, the physical paper it was produced on.

Experiential Medium – Ian Hague’s Touch

By flipping the pages of Wow Comics, the reader experiences the comics medium through touch. Ian Hague, a cultural studies scholar, argues that to fully appreciate the message a comic book conveys we must go beyond the visual (99). He stresses “comics are not images without material substance, they are physical objects that we interact with in physical ways” (98). Hague’s stress on the comic’s physicality as a form of communication extends the work of McLuhan. Hague goes on to specify, expounding that physical touch is a key component of how the message of a comic is delivered. At the most fundamental level by holding the book we are reminded of its physical presence (99).  By flipping the pages of Wow Comics we are reminded of its most basic form, paper. This experience in turn creates a connection between our hand and mind which promotes inquiry into an entry point (history of paper) that can be explored.

In his article Hague uses Art Spiegelman’s’ In the Shadow of No Towers as an example of how physical form and touch create meaning (101). He notes “it is a large board book printed on fairly hard cardboard pages rather than soft paper. Producing the work in this fashion makes a powerful statement because the hardness here serves to suggest permanence and significance” (101). By the same logic, Wow Comics’ paper medium as cheap and historically ephemeral not only conveys impermanence but highlights the insignificance of its content. An object that is not meant to be preserved would not hold meaning which is valuable to society. But when we change the medium from physical to digital, that changes.

Fig.4. Tony Carlucci. Video of Wow Comics, No. 20, Bell Features Publishing. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

What about the digital? Medium specificity

When we cannot experience the physical object through touch we hinder our ability to understand, explore and create meaning through the social, cultural and historical complexities of the object. My experience with Wow Comics from the beginning has been 90% digital. I have experienced the artifact by clicking a mouse and tapping arrow keys.  Did I lose out on an enriched and complicated understanding of the physical artifacts medium? My answer is no, but its complicated. By nature of my profession, I studied the object in question. I was forced to be intentional and dig (Pantalony), understand the medium (McLuhan), and experience the object (Hague). But for the average person that intention may not be there.

The digital object without a relationship to the physical flattens rather than enriches. By flatten I mean it acts as a passive agent ready to be accessed. By contrast, the physical object is an active agent always present in our hands,demanding connection between us and its physical existence. Hague’s view is not quite as polarized and I intend to complicate my own argument here. On one side Hague notes that when an artifact is digitized it loses unique qualities such as texture and smell, experiences that have yet to be imitated in the digital space (104).  Conversely, he acknowledges that digital comics’ use of sound is far beyond physical comics (105). Hague takes a neutral position. Wow Comics as a digital artifact may flatten the experience but it also allows the reader to easily access those rich social, cultural and historical complexities. Without the internet, my knowledge of the physical artifact may have been vastly limited in its scope. If the physical objectivity of the artifact creates connections which promote inquiry then the digital artifact allows that inquiry to bloom into knowledge. Both the digital Wow Comic and the physical comic together create an enriched experience. A world without any physical artifacts points to a whole new meaning that we will have to explore later.

Conclusive? Physical Mediums and the Messages They Convey

The stories behind each of the comic’s physical properties create rich contextual meaning and convey a message of their own.  A Canadian invention, newsprint as a cheap medium specific to the newspaper industry connoted impermanence and devalue. We also learned that new photolithography techniques created discord among Canadian pressmen, lithographers and photoengravers. As a result, Cy Bell, the founder of Bell Features, had trouble finding lithographers to physically print his comics (Hirsh). Pantalony made the argument that the physical properties of an artifact matter and so did Marshal McLuhan. For McLuhan, the whole medium,  the comics pages,lithography, etc, conveys a message that is separate from the content. Hague built off McLuhan by arguing that the physical experience of a comic is equally important as the visual.

Our experience of the physical comic is important because we gain a deep connection to the object, understanding what the medium is conveying and how that medium is a site for rich social, cultural and historical complexities. What happens when we flatten those complexities through the digital? We no longer actively engage but rather passively consume. But that last statement is complicated because the digital allows easy access for our inquiries to bloom into knowledge. The future holds any number of possibilities for Wow Comics and the future of the genre but we must remember, the physical existence of our artifacts is critical in understanding why they matter.

 


Works Cited

Adrian, Dingle. Cover, Wow Comics. No.20, Digital, Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. Library and Archives Canada, Rare Book Collection. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166682.pdf.

Burger, Peter. Charles Fenerty and his Paper Invention. PB Publishing Inc, Toronto, Canada, 1971. http://www.charlesfenerty.ca/book_folder/BURGER%20%20Charles%20Fenerty%209780978331818.pdf

Davis, Angela E. Art and Work: A Social History of Labour in the Canadian Graphic Arts Industry to the 1940s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995. Scholars Portal Books, http://books1.scholarsportal.info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/viewdoc.html?id=34183.

Frank, Booth. Brigdens Limited (1893-1912), Bay St., w. side, between Wellington & King Sts W.; INTERIOR, wood engraving shop. Photograph, 1900. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.

Hague, Ian. “Beyond the Visual: The Roles of the Senses in Contemporary Comics” . The Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art, vol. 1.1, pp 96-110, 2011. http://sjoca.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/SJoCA-1-1-Article-Hague.pdf

Hirsh, Michael, et al. The Great Canadian Comic Books. Peter Martin Associates, 1971.

Kuhlberg, Mark. “Pulp and Paper Industry”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 7 Feb 2006. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/pulp-and-paper-industry/

McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Message”. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Sphere Books, ch.1, pp. 1-18, 1967.

N.d. Canada’s Northern timber lands provide the millions of tons of paper used yearly by the Canadian newspaper industry. The Star gets a large quantity of its supply from the Thorold pulp mills, where mountains of potential reading matter are piled. Around 350 tons of paper are used by The Star Weekly alone, every week in the year. Photograph, 1941. From the Toronto Star Photo Archives. Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection. Public Domain.

Pantalony, David. “Biography of an Artifact: The Theratron Junior and Canada’s Atomic Age” Scientia Canadensis, vol. 34, no. 1, 2011, pp. 51 -63.

Wow Comics, No. 20, Bell Features Publishing. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Wow Comics, No.20, Bell Features Publishing. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. Library and Archives Canada, Rare Book Collection. http://data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166682.pdf.

 

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.

 

Social Redemption and Elevation during World War II in WOW Comics Issue #4.

© 2017 Hallett-Hale, Thomas,  Ryerson University

 

Introduction

The Second World War was an event that sparked tremendous social upheaval in the western world, and entire societies were bent on achieving military victory. Such a focus on military service came to elevate it to the top of the social ladder. Soldiers in the service were praised for their bravery, sacrifice, and loyalty; being a part of the military effort during World War Two represented serious social elevation for all, making heroes of ordinary citizens. The status military service offered freely, regardless of ethnicity, represented for minorities and marginalized groups social redemption. Social Redemption here means an elevation of social status for groups who endured repression and discrimination in peacetime society. Media such as Issue #4 of WOW Comics offer a fascinating window into how wide audiences were fed this idea of wartime heroism. The characters of Lorraine and Elaine in WOW Issue #4, as well as women on the wartime homefront, are all excellent examples of how combat heroism and redemption was extended to a priorly marginalized group.

 

Figure 1. E.T. Legault. Panel from “Whiz Wallace.” WOW Comics, No. 4, January 1942, p. 42. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

 

Heroic Redemption for Female Characters

The largest marginalized group who found opportunity and redemption in the Second World War were Canadian women. Opportunities for work at factories, in the Royal Air Force, and in the Army brought women into the limelight. In contrast, the female lead of “Whiz Wallace” is treated with a spectacular lack of respect, and thus tackles social redemption more directly. Her name is Elaine, and in Issue #4 she becomes deeply distressed that other women are fawning over her dearest- the protagonist Whiz. She becomes overcome with despair in her rooms, despair that’s narrated with stark disrespect.“Lying across her bed, Elaine Kenyon, like a foolish child crying for no reason at all, sobs her heart out” (Legault, 36). These words make clear the esteem that the reader is intended to hold Elaine in. On the counter side, our protagonist is portrayed as an earnest hero being snubbed; “Wearied of trying to get an audience with his sweetheart, Whiz goes back to the gathering honouring him, to apologize for Elaine’s action”(Legault, 36). Later, as a seeming punishment for her behaviour, Elaine’s request to join in a combat expedition is rebuffed – and she is left behind. This immense collection of “flaws” that the writer amasses against her only serves to highlight her redemption, as she stows away and fights with the men. Elaine manages to save the life of her companion, despite her perceived weakness. After taking the initiative, Whiz goes from demeaning her to; “Good girl Elaine, I don’t know how you happened to be here, but you’re mighty welcome!” (Legault, 43). This stands as the perfect example of redemption through military action, even from a group so marginalized as to be scorned and left behind for petty misbehaviours. Elaine therefore serves as a figure who, by taking action to aid the military cause of her friends, becomes a heroic figure in her own right; one whose prior misdeeds are erased by bravery.

 

A New Kind of Wartime Character

A reflection of women’s new status is found in my WOW issue, in the character of Loraine. She inhabits the story of “Dart Daring,” as the love interest to the titular protagonist. My issue opens to her brave rescue of Dart from a tribe of angry natives, in which she scales a sheer cliff by herself, sneaks by a hostile camp, and unties our indisposed hero. This is a far greater display of agency than other female characters throughout wartime comics; who often find themselves the victim of unfortunate circumstances rather than the solution. The writer does, however, portray her exploits in language far less heroic than applied to Dart. “Her heart misses a beat,” “Loraine, fear gripping her heart…” (Legault, 5). Her fear is emphasized, and she does not exhibit the cool courage of her male counterpart. And yet, the fact remains that Loraine indisputably clambers up a towering cliff, and braves a camp full of enemies to untie her friend. These feats far exceed being tied to various objects to be used as bait- a fate that inordinately befalls other female characters in many wartime comics. In a time where love interests were often portrayed as kidnapped, threatened, or helpless to create tension, Lorraine’s agency is a heroic new tone. That a heroine could perform heroic deeds in a similar league as a male character is a new brand of story, a portrayal of new, redeemed women, capable of playing stronger roles in w society.

 

Homefront Heroines

Beyond the world of comic books, the concept of women engaged in the war effort blossomed into the idea of wartime Heroines. These women stepped up to aid the war effort, and were acclaimed for doing so. The acclaim was built into the image of women as selfless, patriotic individuals who stepped up to aid their country in its time of need. The wartime service changed the concepts of men and women’s work; instead lauding women for accepting jobs that they could only dream of a decade before. “The war effort and patriotism are presented as the artimcentral motivators for women’s work and the progressive national narrative is strongly endorsed” (Wakewich & Smith, 59), meaning that women’s jobs had become emblematic of patriotic service. The social redemption lay in this recasting of working women as noble heroines aiding their country, simply because the jobs they took were supporting the military effort. This massive shift in thought was so powerful that, even after the war, official wartime record favours the stories of exceptional heroines rather than the everyday exploits of ordinary wartime women (Wakewich & Smith, 59). Thus, the wartime saw women rising from the marginalized social dynamic of women in the 1930s, to be given both greater access to jobs and greater social standing. This social redemption was the prime example of the power the war effort had to elevate and even glamourize marginalized groups.

Figure 2, 1947 painting.”Parachute Riggers,” Paraskeva Clark. Canadian War Museum, http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-5679_parachute-riggers_e.shtml

 

The Unredeemed First Nations in Issue #4

However, the forth issue of WOW comics is not entirely generous with this idea of redemption. While women benefit from redemption in combat, the same cannot be said for the Native Americans depicted in the story of “Dart Daring.” These faceless foes are heaped with cultural stereotypes, but with none of the redemption experienced by Elaine. They are termed both as “Howling Redskins,” (20) and “A pack of blood thirsty savages,” (19). Both of these terms are meant to demean and demonize the Natives- a common practice for wartime comics that wished to display their enemies as inferior. Despite Natives being Canadian minority, the writer pulled no punches, as seen when Lorraine is told; “If your friend is wise, he will easily outsmart those varmints! They’ve been drinkin’ the fire-water given to them by some unknown renegade, and they’re on the rampage!” (17). What makes this stereotyping relevant is that Native Canadians, like women, were a minority whom where actively engaged in the war effort on the Allied side. In theory, the principle of redemption that applied to women should have aided them, however this was not the case. Native Americans were welcomed into the Armed Forces, distinguishing themselves there; “[Charles Byce] won the Military Medal in the Netherlands and the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the Rhineland Campaign. His citation for the latter was impressive: “His gallant stand, without adequate weapons and with a bare handful of men against hopeless odds will remain, for all time, an outstanding example to all ranks of the Regiment”(“Indigenous People”). Native American men were accepted and honoured for their service, same as any others. Furthermore, many in the Native community found social “redemption” of their own, a chance to be validated as true Canadians the same as anyone else; “We’re proud of the word volunteer. Nobody forced us. We were good Canadians—patriots—we fought for our country.” – Syd Moore” (“Indigenous People”). Thus, the failure of Issue #4 to portray the heroism that the Natives earned overseas appears to be the inherent preference of Comic writers to stereotype and simplify their villains for children to grasp easily. When contrasted to the respect that real First Nations individuals won through wartime service, the cruel portrayal in Issue #4 does not refute the theory of social redemption.

Japanese Canadians in the Military

A strong example of this idea of redemption through military service lies outside my comic, in the stories of the Japanese Canadians during World War Two. Japanese Canadians, unlike the prior two marginalized groups, belonged to a minority whose former country was actively opposed to Canada and the Allied cause. This caused deep suspicion to fall on an already maligned group. The majority of Japanese Canadians lived on the coast of British Columbia, where they were viewed with deep suspicion and distrust by English Canadians. Eventually, through a mixture of distrust, racism, and a desire to eliminate fishing competition, the Japanese Canadians were relocated all over the country, a great many ending up in internment camps (Sugiman). This kind of widespread social distrust perpetuated appalling conditions that this group were forced to suffer, their homes, possessions, and lives stripped from them. The awful conditions makes the “social redemption” that many young Japanese-Canadian men experienced by joining the Armed Services even more marked, perhaps more so than that attained by Natives and women. These men did not hesitate to join the Forces, since “For [Japanese Canadian] men, a symbolic demonstration of both loyalty to the nation and confirmation of manhood was enlistment in the armed forces” (Sugiman, 195). This show of loyalty was rewarded largely by an escape from internment camps, and a form of social approval. A young Japanese Canadian at the time, by the name of Akio, detailed in an interview the results of joining the Forces; “In almost every reference to his decision to join the army, Akio introduced two related themes: his father’s support of this decision, and his belonging in Canada as opposed to Japan” (Sugiman, 196). It seemed that joining the forces switched the social standing of Japanese Canadians from that of possible enemy agents to loyal, patriotic Canadians. This change is a drastic example of how the redemption process not only exists, but how powerful it was during the war time years. Akio goes on to detail how his military status served as a protection against the racism and discrimination of every day life; “In almost every memory story, Akio juxtaposed the harshness of such discriminatory acts with the loyalty and support of Hakujin [White Canadian] men in the army. Akio believes that his military status in some ways shielded him from the impact of the racism that Japanese Canadians encountered in daily life” (Sugiman, 207). Even the depths of suspicion that an entire ethnic group had fallen to could be redeemed by service in the military, and all that it represented- the patriotism and dedication to one’s country that endowed a social standing all of it’s own, above the stereotypes and judgements of ordinary society.

Conclusion

To conclude, the characters within my issue- Loraine and Elaine- provide an abstract portrait of how the wider society of World War II was taught that military and combat engagement meant social elevation, and in some cases, redemption. The Native Americans, portrayal adds more nuance to the idea, contesting the reality of this social redemption with what the widespread, propaganda-like media spread. What the oral and archival evidence shows is that the social elevation of military service was profound to many minorities and marginalized groups, despite the castigation the Natives receive in my issue. In the end, the drive to win World War II was great enough to defy even the cast iron social standards of pre-wartime society.

 

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Works Cited

Brcak, N. and Pavia, J. R. (1994), “Racism in Japanese and U.S. Wartime Propaganda.” Historian, 56. 671–684. Retrieved from doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1994.tb00926.x

Walker W. St. G. James. “Race and Recruitment in World War I: Enlistment of Visible Minorities In the Canadian Expeditionary Force.” Canadian Historical Review 1989 vol. 70, 1-26. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/CHR-070-01-01

Wakewich, Pamela, and Helen Smith. “The Politics of ‘Selective’ Memory: Re-Visioning Canadian Women’s Wartime Work in the Public Record.” Oral History, vol. 34(2), 2006, pp. 56-68. Retrieved from www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/stable/pdf/40179897.pdf

Sugiman, Pamela. ‘“Life Is Sweet”: Vulnerability and Composure in the Wartime Narratives of Japanese Canadians’. Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 43(1) (2009): 186–218. Print. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/367058

Dittmer, Jason, and Soren Larsen. “Aboriginality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004.” Historical Geography, vol. 38(1), 2010, pp. 52-69. Retrieved from ejournals.unm.edu/index.php/historicalgeography/article/view/2864/2342

Legault , E T. “WOW Comics.” WOW Comics [Toronto, ON], vol. 1, Commercial Signs of Canada, 1942. No. 4, pp. 1–42.

Clark, Paraskeva. “Parachute Riggers.” Exhibition Theme – Work. Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, 1947. Canadian War Museum, http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/artwar/artworks/19710261-5679_parachute-riggers_e.shtml

“Indigenous People in the Second World War.” Veterans Affairs Canada, Government of Canada, 29 Nov. 2016, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/aborigin. Accessed 23 Mar. 2017.