This post will focus on Manny Easson’s eighth comic issue, titled “The Mystery of the Million Dollar Baby”, apart of Bell Features, Great Canadian White Collection. The Great Canadian White Collection is a series of comic books published between the years 1941 to 1946. Due to the importation banning of American comics, this revolutionized an era titled the “Canadian Golden Age of Comics”. (Bell) Issued during World War two, the method of using humor in texts was a popular choice by authors as it not only provided reader’s a mere moment of distraction from the stressful times occurring, but to also allow readers to explore an alternative escapist reality. This post will also discuss the use of the main character, Dizzy Don, who is the protagonist of this comic book intended for children, and some of the influential effects this text has. Understanding how hard the toll of the war was on the Canadians at home, the easygoing nature of the comic book genre can be seen as a stress-reliever suitable for all.
Through the use of humor, authors also took the time to incorporate their own messages within their text to sway the reader’s perspective.
Dating back to the moment in World War 2 where Canada joined the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Canada provided an indispensable amount of contribution to the generation of British air power. Despite the eventual success due to the tag teaming by both the Canadian air force and the British, Canada made sure to enforce the continued national identification of their personnel. The reason being that national identification allowed for the increase of Canadian political independence. Despite the mixed review received from Britain about the separation, many Canadians embraced the newfound “Canadianization” (Johnston, 2015) Going ahead with this bold move, it was one that was successful as Canadians celebrated, ensuring the importance of their national identity. National identity also increased the amount of Canadians distancing themselves from those whom were seen as non-Canadian. This distance led to the emergence of the anti-immigration perspective.
In order to feel patriotic there is the aspect of appreciating one’s culture and then there is also the put down of other cultures, as a form of whom is to be regarded as superior. The Nazi’s are mocked in this panel due to the faux imitation of their accents. Mocking is a sign of discrediting intelligence and belittling the culture and foreign language being spoken. It provokes this feeling of alienation, humiliation, and disrespect to those of the mocked heritage. This displays how some Canadians felt about German foreigners and their own air of superiority.
During the time of World War 2 as many soldiers were abroad fighting, Germans in Canada were suspicious of their fellow Canadians. There were many posters and propaganda alike, floating around in promotion of hailing Canadians at war, while at the same degrading the Germans. The method of spreading information through mediums such as texts and the media, allowed the importance of these immigrants’ presence to go unacknowledged and ignored. Instead German immigrant’s importance was replaced with the title of an “enemy alien” (Bassler, 1990) Those with German descent in Canada began to see him or herself as unwanted, to their Canadian neighbors. In comic books there was the mockery of German accents, creation of the German characters as evil and made to look angry, all endorsing these negative stereotypes.
There is a clear binary present as the happy American family is depicted and immediately right after, there is the aggressive German Nazi’s. By illustrating this family as those whom would sacrifice their life in order to save their kin, “The ambassador and his wife huddle around Adorable in an effort to save her life” (Easson, 1943) displays the good North American family image. Something the North American readers would be proud of to relate too. Meanwhile, representing the Germans as those opposing this happy lifestyle, with adjectives such as “merciless” when drawn as attackers.
Humor and Propaganda
Propaganda is the aggressive dissemination of a distinct point of view for a specific purpose. Using persuasive techniques, images, wording and messages to manipulate targeted audiences. By having them assume the propagandist’s perspective is the correct vantage point of view that should be adopted, believed and acted on. (McRann, 2009) Humor allows writers and artists of all kinds to attain a method of expression. Texts embedded within comedic expressions can have large impacts on its audiences, winning over hearts, wars and minds. Humor was used as an approach during the war to construct a national identity, decoding the importance of humor, especially to children during the time of war. Wartime cartoonists were big on getting children involved in the war efforts through their drawings. (Penniston-Bird & Summerfield, 2001) These cartoonists would embrace the gender roles by drawing little boys as soldiers while also promoting the theme of national identity to little girls as well, reminding them to remain patriotic and not make amends with the opposition.
Dizzy Don is introduced as a comedic radio host, who leads the adventures in many of The Funny Comic book issues alongside his pal Canary Byrd. As the main protagonist in this children’s comic book series, his comments and actions are depicted clearly in the story, including his sentiments. Canary Byrd starts off his interaction with Dizzy on the radio saying: “Say Dizzy – when our grocer told you that domestic sardines are 15 cents and imported 25 cents which did you take?” and Dizzy’s response: “Domestic, why should I pay their way over?” (Easson, 1943) Being introduced as a comedian aids the harsh message of how Dizzy feels about foreigners from abroad coming into his homeland. Although the banter can be taken lightly due to Dizzy’s stature as a comedian, the context of the racist message is still present right at the beginning of the story. This also displays clear patriotism, as the support for domestic products over imported is not even something to be questioned by Dizzy.
Humor, especially the sort that is a medium for social and political commentary, plays an important role in the community of a wartime nation. Furthermore, understanding the intention behind a text can be problematic as it reveals discovery on the social impact of the audience. (Penniston-Bird, & Summerfield, 2001) This comic uses the method of humor to promote anti-immigration sentiments, due to the light hearted stance the genre takes, in which the audience is expected to put their guard down. This creates a dimmer focus on the serious aspect of the topic when being discussed, resulting in non-consequential results from its readers. Unknowingly, this targeted audience does not realize the influence Bell Features authors’ texts have on their daily interactions and perspectives, as it creates racist stereotypes and promotes exclusion of those whom are of German descent. This aids explanation as to why there was the continuous racist endorsement; especially as many German Canadians during the war were put under a lot of scrutiny. Putting this in a children’s book allows these ideologies to also exploit the future generation and further these thoughts. Through the use of the main character Dizzy Don and his interactions, he was used as a platform to spread anti-immigration sentiments embedded within humorous texts.
Twark, E. Jill. “Approaching History as Cultural Memory Through Humor, Satire, Comics, and Graphic Novels.” RULA Archives & Special Collection, Ryerson University. Toronto, Ontario. https://journals-scholarsportal-ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/pdf/09607773/v26i0001/175_ahacmthscagn.xml. Accessed 30 Nov 2017.
Easson, Manny. The Funny Comic and Dizzy Don No.8: The Mystery of the Million Dollar Baby. Bell Features, 1943. Print.
Johnston, E. Iain. “The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the Shaping of National Identities in the Second World War.” RULA Archives & Special Collection, Ryerson University. https://journals-scholarsportalezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/pdf/03086534/v43i0005/903_tbcatpiitsww.xml. Accessed 30 Nov 2017.
Bassler, Gerhard P. “Silent or Silenced Co-Founders of Canada? Reflections on the History of German Canadians.” Canadian Ethnic Studies = Etudes Ethniques Au Canada; Calgary. vol. 22, no. 1, Jan.1990, pp. 38–46.
Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.
The comics published by Bell Features during World War II are a cultural backbone for what a given society at the time wanted to define as the nationalistic ideology of Canadian identity. Thus, superheroes, their sidekicks and their antagonists came to fruition to address these behaviours or characteristics for all audiences. Generally speaking, if one were to consider these superheroes and their journeys as an example of perfection and goodness, then their antagonists must serve as a way to illustrate to the readers what is considered evil or antithetic to Canadian identity. Tasked with motivating young Canadians during the war effort, the various heroes of Triumph Comics #18 (Ace Barton, Captain Wonder, and Nelvana of the Northern Lights) of Triumph Comics #18 (1944) are often antagonized by villains who are marked by cultural or ethnic stereotypes of Japanese, German and Indigenous people. Understandably, two of these cultural groups derive from the countries the Allies have been warring with during WWII, however, villainizing entire populations of people to young readers would have deleterious effects – especially since many of these ‘villains’ had resided within Canadian borders. This exhibit will analyze the nature of what the writers of Bell Features has decided was necessary to frame Canadian identity and the problems that arise from poor, stereotypical writing.
Comics: Mythology for Kids!
Comic book superheroes are ultimately symbolic. During the golden age of comic books, these characters are meant to embody the ultimate moral good. Understanding the influential power within comic books as something that is akin to mythology would best describe why the portrayal of these characters are so effective and why nations contextually accepted these portrayals – no matter how problematic – at the time of their publishing. As Bart Beaty describes in The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero (2006) that heroes “serve to protect the national interest within superheroic narratives, but they also serve to illuminate national interests in the real world as iconic signs” (428). Beaty further demonstrates that as contemporary mythologies, the actual construction of a hero draws largely from classical mythology (The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero; 2006, 428).
The heroes of Triumph Comics (1944) are no exception to the methods of mythology-based creation. Nelvana of the Northern Lights (Triumph Comics, 1944) created by Adrian Dingle is an example of the “man-god” (The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero; 2006, 428) trope. The first recognizable thing about Nelvana is that she is first discovered by soldiers as a polar bear mounted, otherworldly, magical apparition within an aurora borealis (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 2). Between Nelvana, Ace Barton and Captain Wonder (and briefly, Speed Savage), all three embody the classical heroic attitude Beaty describes as “a dedication to the principles of justice” (The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero; 2006, 428). For Nelvana, her single in this issue of Triumph Comics has allowed her to speak only twice in the comic and yet the only words she tells to the group of men she had just saved from wolves was a vow that she will protect them from the horrors of their enemies (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 9). As for Captain Wonder and Speed Savage in a collaborated issue, the White Mask is described as a “two-fisted, gun packing aid to JUSTICE!” (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 52) while Captain Wonder shames a man for betraying his country for his own profit (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 29). Finally, for Ace Barton’s issue, he is described to be an ace pilot for the R.C.A.F. who tirelessly fights the Japanese despite being outnumbered and stranded (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 38-44). All four of these superheroes serve as an example of classical heroes found in myth who are enhanced beings with an inherently morally good heart.
Antagonists: The Japanese
Now to examine what Triumph Comics had understood the Japanese to be at the time of their comics’ conception. As previously stated, the Japanese and the Germans are vilified because they are part of the Axis Powers and have generally become a real life menace for countries that fight for the Allies. On top of crudely drawn features, throughout the entire issue of Triumph Comics #18 (1944) racial slurs such as “Japs” (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 9) and “Yellow Peril” (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 42). But to really drive home the concept of these people as monsters, the artists have depicted these people with less than human features and behaving in an animalistic manner (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 42).
There’s very little difference in the Japanese antagonists in this issue of Ace Barton. The bigger antagonist has slightly more depth as a double agent for the Japanese army but is still drawn in a way that makes him resemble a monster and with no exposition about his character as anything more than a villain. A moment later he commands hordes of Japanese soldiers (pictured above) to chase Ace through the jungle like a pack of dogs (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 40-43).
On a visible and symbolic level, readers of this issue of Ace Barton can sympathise with Ace in comparison to the Japanese not only because he is the hero of this narrative but because he is simply more human in his behaviour. In an article entitled Aboriginality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004 (2005), Jason Dittmer and Soren Larsen “Given the visual nature of most superhero media, this reductionism also requires this coherent subjectivity to occupy a specific body, one that is gendered, raced, and super-powered” (53). From a careful observation of this issue, the authors of Ace Barton had intended their young audience to take the Japanese is expendable, traitorous or hostile. Regarding Beaty’s work, he describes that the pantheon of Canadian superheroes “illustrate a set of tensions that surround the intersection of popular culture and federal institutions within Canada” (The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero; 2006, 427). Given the history of Japanese internment camps during this time period, stripping the humanity from the Japanese isn’t a taboo subject for the 1940s.
In Triumph Comics #18 (1944) Nazis are an often central antagonist appearing in Captain Wonder, Captain Wonder Meets Speed Savage and one-off strips between the larger comic issues. In this publication’s single of Captain Wonder, unlike the Japanese of Ace Barton (Triumph Comics #18, 1944), the Germans are drawn not in animalistic or monstrous ways but rather as menacing people. However, they still exhibit the same behaviour of having no real, in depth motives besides a need to destroy and kill. Since the Germans are a main opponent for the Allies, and therefore Canadians, in WWII, wartime comics are quite active in heavily vilifying the Nazis. In fact they are shown to be an even more fearful antagonist than the Japanese because in the each of the Captain Wonder issues, the Nazis have infiltrated into Canada and successfully killed many civilians (Triumph Comics #18, 1944).
To contrast these Germans against the Canadian superheroes would be presumably an easy task because of how evil they are; but arguably, this places Canadian protagonists into becoming just as unrealistically good. In Beaty’s article he elaborates that when it comes to Canadian comic culture “Canadian superiority [is] rooted in historical circumstance” (The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero; 2006, 434). There is no way of defining moral rightness for the heroes of Triumph Comics #18 (1944) without having to use blatant, one dimensional comparison. Dittmer and Larsen would regard the power in representation because when considering countries as imagined communities, “that power is just as manifest in
the everyday production of national representations as it is in the enforcement capabilities and reifications associated with the organizations dedicated to government” (Aboriginality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004, 2005, 54).
Nelvana …and then the rest of the Natives
The most interesting meta-literary comparison between racialized heroes and villains would be how the authors have depicted Indigenous people.
Arguably, the most visual difference between Nelvana and Injun Moe would be how closely Nelvana is drawn to possess Euro-centric features. Injun Moe however, has darker skin for being printed on colourless pages and his hair is tied into braids, adorned in feathers. Since Nelvana is made to fit the heroic, white-centric ideal of Canadian patriotism, she is allowed to be characterized with positive, protagonistic traits associated with her other superhero counterparts as she is seen saving Canadian soldiers from wolves (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 8) and swearing to them that she will protect them from harm (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 9). Injun Moe is racialized ridicule as he is seen taking hyper-literal meanings from other characters such as the bird pictured in the above panel (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 21). The next single within this issue, TANG! (Triumph Comics #18, 1944), also depicts Indigenous antagonists; this time, an entire tribe who ambush a white man and his fellow white sidekick, apparently justified by a cry from a Native chief that “the white men want to disturb [their] peace!” (Triumph Comics #18, 1944, 14). These characters, unsurprisingly, have are draw with ethnic features and traditional dress in comparison to Nelvana. In these three singles, Indigenous people have ranged from heroic, stupid and hostile.
Dittmer and Larsen have addressed this issue regarding Nelvana’s key to heroism as being tied to whiteness and that her ethnic culture isn’t addressed at length (Aboriginality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004, 2005). Thus, Nelvana stands as a symbol of the Canadian North more than she is a positive representation of Indigenous people. From another author, Sherrill Grace, Dittmer and Larsen refer to her work to describe this fraudulent sense of cultural representation “that these countervailing ideas are integrated into a powerful discursive formation that ultimately privileges Canada’s southern urban interests over those of northern residents” (Aboriginality and the Arctic North in Canadian Nationalist Superhero Comics, 1940-2004, 2005, 55). Nelvana would have a stronger, more positive impact as a Native character if it weren’t for her imposed whiteness and that every other poor, appropriated depiction of Native (or generally non-white, non-Canadian) people appear in all the major comic narratives of Triumph Comics #18.
What is even more unclear about trying to tie Canadian identity to these heroes is also exhibited in an article by Ivan Kocmarek who writes in Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way: The War-Time Comics of Bell Features Publications (2016) where Adrian Dingle, the creator of Nelvana of the Northern Lights, that the stories in Triumph-Adventure Comics will “all have a Canadian background” but “ have no indication or assumption of anything “Canadian” in their stories” (150). With that in mind, how can these comic books, which are made to drive the ideology of Canadian identity, be impactful and clear to impressionable, wartime readers? The culture of Canada continued to be undefinable because it is lost within the exaggerated characteristics of their superheroes and supervillains and not honed to any real culture within Canada but is instead framed around defaming other cultures. All in all, this comic book, despite how much it lacks in meaning, serves as a touchstone for the mindset of authors and culture-creators within 1940s and a foundation for better comics to proceed.
Propaganda and comics were huge during the 1940’s since it took place during the Second World War. Dizzy Don, a Canadian comic series created by Manny Easson, and the idea of Carpooling, a way of saving gasoline, were both born during this era. Because comics were becoming popular and being nearly read by everyone, the government had an idea to incorporate propaganda and comics together, essentially killing two birds with one stone as people tuning into the comics despite not wanting anything to do with propaganda would always have a dose of politics without them noticing. the characters themselves can be seen behaving in different ways; example Captain America asking readers to buy War bonds to help America win the war. Dizzy Don, despite being a Canadian comic had done the same thing with their comic issue 13, The Black Gas Racket, promoting the idea that carpooling was the way to go. I will discuss how Dizzy Don helps promotes the carpooling propaganda through its distinct humorous nature, proving that comics and propaganda did go hand in hand during the war. “Selling war bonds actually, they used the characters for that purpose, that I defiantly knew they did that, and apparently it was successful because they did quite a bit of that ….. they did a lot of work for the government.” (Carmine Infantino, 2:58 – 3:20)
World War II Rubber Problem and the birth of Carpooling:
World War II was an advancing time in history, it was an age of competition with other countries, being a step ahead in the war was important but sometimes in order to meet the demand, there had to be limitations. In the case of the United States, it was actually rubber since it was hard to mass produce. The means of saving rubber was to produce fewer tires for civilian vehicles and instead focus it all on the tanks and other war machines. A way of getting around not producing as many car tires was to limit the use of cars themselves; less wear and tear meant fewer people would ask for tire replacements resulting in more rubber for the war. Instead of going around telling people to stop using rubber, they created the idea that America needed to save gasoline for the war despite oil being plentiful and not difficult to obtain. They introduced the idea of carpooling, it was basically sharing one vehicle with multiple people that way there would be fewer cars as often since one driver could drive up to five people to work at the same time, essentially getting rid of multiple cars off the road. Propaganda such as my personal favourite “If you ride alone you ride with Hitler” were effective of getting people to go cruising with their neighbors’ instead of driving by themselves. With the decrease of cars on the road, rubber was no longer a scarce resource, helping America build more tanks and aiding their war efforts immensely; the idea was a complete success.
Dizzy Don’s relation with World War II Propaganda:
Dizzy Don was a Canadian comic series known for its comedic nature of its time but also can be seen to have political undertones, more so during World War II. On 1944’s Issue 13 of Dizzy Don and the Black Racket, Dizzy Don and the gang have to stop a mob of black market thugs trying to sell gasoline illegally. Seems harmless until you notice all the small hints for promoting the carpooling lifestyle; Dizzy Don is seen always driving never alone but with a group of his friends meanwhile, the villains are always driving by themselves, the crooks also waste gas by blowing up vehicles or setting gasoline tanks on fire just to escape. The comic doesn’t directly tell but rather visually lets you know that to be a good guy you don’t waste fuel but if you do you’re the bad guy. It’s a smart technique to help push a motive to society, showing the protagonist perform certain actions will most likely influence fans of the series to do the same. To say that carpooling paid Manny Easson to feature their propaganda in his comic is hard to say and near impossible to prove nowadays but to think that Manny Easson got influenced by the propaganda itself is quite believable.
The Humor of Dizzy Don:
Delving into the humor of Dizzy Don, Manny Easson took inspiration of Ernie Kovacs, a famous comedian who pioneered TV comedy today with the Ernie Kovacs show. The design of Dizzy Don even took inspiration of Kovacs attire, including his stature as well. Kovacs style of humor was skit based, featuring short plots that were full of humor and quite bizarre, whether it be drowning a scarecrow, women having a drug trip on what to wear, or three apes playing instruments, it was out there, especially for its time. Easson nailed the style with Dizzy Don, it’s hard to describe it but if you had read Dizzy Don and watched an Ernie Kovacs skit you’d automatically see the resemblance, even down to the characters like Kovacs’ female companion and trusty sidekick in some of his re-occurring skits, the exact same layout as with Dizzy Don. Dizzy Don’s style of humor was quick and explosive, a lot of stuff would happen all at once but it flowed well enough that the reader wouldn’t get lost in the chaos, similar to that of a Kovacs skit. Because the humor was fast-paced, subliminal messages can be easily overlooked as each panel wasn’t meant to be viewed for too long since most of the humor came from the obvious visual gag and writing. This can result in propaganda being merged within the humor itself, such as Dizzy Don’s sidekick, Bill, blows up a gas tank full of fuel resulting in him getting blown up but in an innocent way (not dead, just Looney Tunes style), or just the abundance of car crashes in issue itself, all in done in a slapstick kind of way, but why so many? Is there a secret message being told? the answer to that question is yes. Since the issue was dated in 1944, the same time the propaganda regarding fuel conversing and carpooling was huge, also taking into consideration of Easson’s love of American television seen by his appreciation to American stars like Ernie Kovacs, resulting in absorbing more of said advertisement, I can simply say there is a high probability Easson made this issue of Dizzy Don as a means for sharing his opinion with the viewers of his comic. An author will usually put their thoughts and opinions into their works, mostly hidden through the style, in this case, the humor. For someone who isn’t into politics, they wouldn’t think much of it but rather view it as just Easson’s style of humor which it is but with a political twist. Politics and humor have always gone hand to hand, this comic is no exception.
What we can take from the information we have learned is that comics and propaganda do work together to help push an idea to the public, more so during the time of WWII. It was important for comics to do such because it was this time comic books were in its prime, the number of people tuning in to the next issue was astonishing so it made sense to put forms of advertisement within a comic, including propaganda; it was a sure way of getting more people to look. Manny Easson, a fan of US television shown by his love of Ernie Kovacs style of humor, it would seem possible for his issue 13 of Dizzy Don, The Black Gas Racket, to be centered around carpooling as it was common propaganda during the time of its release. Perhaps Easson simply wanted to share his ideas, thinking it was right for him to push an idea to help out the soldiers, it was probably the most he can do. Sadly we can never know for certain if this was intentional or not, despite all the little hints pointing towards that conclusion, nothing can be confirmed. However, it’s nice to discuss Dizzy Don, it was an underappreciated comic series with a lot of passion put into it; it was sadly swallowed by the much higher budget comics during its time and was overlooked because of it, (it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page). Hopefully, this research can shed light on a series that has been dead for ages.
1. Kelly, Mark. “The Golden Age of Comic Books: Representations of American Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War.” Epublications, Marquette University, epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=dittman.
Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 2-3. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b2611399
Viotte, Michel, director. Spider-Man – Once Upon a Time the Super Heroes. Once Upon A Time The Super Heroes , 23 Dec. 2001, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySOOLp_SoDw.
Comic books in the 1940s featured a multitude of issues and problems that were alive and well during that time period. The comics would display social themes and hegemonic beliefs regarding certain genders, races and ideologies. In Triumph Comics #19 published in the year 1944, female characters’ perception and persona are altered and distorted specifically in the featured comic “Tang” by Rene Kulbach and “Capt. Wonder” by Ross Saakel. Why this is a prominent theme will be discussed further below as well as the implications as a result of it. The way this comic represents women is in such a way that it begs the question as to why they are shown this way, what are the reasons for it? It is obvious that the ways women are portrayed in the comic are not even remotely close to how they are in real life; justification is not needed for that. However, the cultural perception of women and the propaganda/media that was present at that time helped pave the way for comic book writers to write female characters into their stories the way that they have, this being in a distorted, unrealistic and misrepresented sort of way.
The Cultures Perception
For Triumph Comics #19 the cover page art or featured comic is “Tang”, written and illustrated by Rene Tulbach. The comic strip features the main protagonist Buddy Breckenridge and his Indian friend named Scout; their goal in this issue is to retrieve the stolen property papers that belong to a woman, Indigenous peoples being the ones who stole the papers. Upon encountering the woman, she is shown as helpless, defenseless and unable to fend for herself, and must be saved by the man. The cultural perception of women during the 1940s “was exemplified by the traditional gender constructions of men as producers and providers and women as wives and mothers” (Gourley 12). The public’s perception and portrayal of women is that of someone who would typically stay inside and provide and take care of her children, “The cultural perception was a woman’s ultimate goal was to be married and to have children, to have her life revolve around domesticity” (Gluck 4). The point being made here in terms of a connection with comic books is that illustrators and creators latch on to these social norms and construct their characters in their stories based on the cultural perception of that gender. During the 1940s the public perception of them was not that they were strong, capable and intimidating, it was the complete opposite. As a result of this cultural perception, the same type of stock female characters arise in many of the stories that were constructed during that given time period. The terms “stock” and “static” are useful words that help indicate how females are presented and displayed in these comics. If they were not at home and had to work “out” they “were often able to secure jobs in stereotypically feminine employment, such as domestic service, clerking, secretarial work, and teaching” (Cardinale 22) and “Job placement only became problematic with work that was considered masculine” (Hall et all. 233). Women would have this perception put upon them by the general public and as a result, these comics display a persona and perception that is distorted and essentially multiplied x10 (meaning their perceived traits) to the point where their portrayal would be nothing like how they actually are. The way in which women are perceived stems from how they are brought up, “women were raised at the time to behave, dress, and act in a certain (feminine) way”(Hall et all. 235). This is why many of these female characters that are present in this comic are shown almost as an accessory and a side character (apart from Nelvana) and are not the main focus of the text.
I’M ON MY WAY TO TAKE CARE OF IT
The female character in “Tang” who gets her property papers stolen is referred to as “girl” in the first panel she is presented in. It is evident based on the illustration of the “girl” that she is in fact not a girl at all; she is drawn as a woman. This is where the distorted vision comes into play. When you invision a “girl” or think about a “girl”, you think of terms like “vulnerable” and “weak”, young girls are not as strong and capable as they are when they are older. This is why the creator chose to call the female character a “girl”, because it is more believable in terms of the plot and progression of the story. But it is odd as she is clearly drawn as a woman, as shown in the picture below. It is more believable for
something like this to happen for a “girl” rather than a grown woman. The line, “I’m on my way to take charge of it” (Dingle et all. 11) is used by the female character. The ironic aspect of this line is that in terms of the comic strips plot; the female character is ultimately not the one to “take charge of it”. The character that ends up taking charge is Buddy Breckenridge, male essential character. Females “were denied access to “the front”, to “combat” so that men can claim a uniqueness and superiority that will justify their dominant position in the social order” (Enloe 15). This is what happens in this comic strip, the female character essentially takes a back seat to men just as it was in society during that time. The perception that is put upon females during the 1940’s allowed the comic book creators and illustrators to present characters such as the “girl” in “Tang” in such a way that was unlike how they actually were. A big part is the cultures perception during that time; these comic book creators gave into these unrealistic and distorted ideologies regarding women and put them into their stories.
BOB THE WHOLE BUILDING IS SHAKING!
Further evidence of a distorted female character is evident in the comic strip “Capt
Wonder”. Upon seeing the gorilla escape and attack the city, the female character, who has no influence on the actual outcome of the story, leaps into the arms of Capt Wonder and eventually faints. It is said that “women were often reminded of their secondary status” (Brenneman 21) meaning that this perception of the being known as “secondary” gets displayed first hand in Triumph Comics #19, specifically with regards to the female who faints. “Tool” is a good term to describe female characters in 1940s comics; all they did was help bring out the reason for the existence of man during that time. Women during that time contributed to the war effort in small as well as large ways, whether that is true or not is being questioned, it is the fact that they are presented and shown in such distorted ways in the forms of media present during World War II and it begs the question as to why this was a thing in the first place. The same stock type of female character appears here once again; she is unable to do things herself and must be saved by the male protagonist. This is a reoccurring theme in
these comics during this time. This proves once again the idea of how the cultures perception influences the ways in which the creators of these comics write these female characters into their stories. If the general public is lead to believe that this type of distorted persona is the norm then that is how these comics are created and accepted. Cultural Perception is everything.
THE USE OF MEDIA
During World War II the use of propaganda was heavily influential as it would be seen everywhere you would go. The issues displayed on these posters would include a variety of things pertaining to bother genders. The use of the propaganda was a way of swaying the public to do certain things or think a certain way about the given subject that was in the poster. The use of film was a heavy influencer in terms of the perception of women. Just like the comic books, film makers were also persuaded to believe these notions of women and further helped bring to light this fake perception of women that everybody during that time seemed to be gravitating toward. For women, propaganda and other forms of media (ex. film) that pertained towards them changed leading from the 30s into the 40s. It went from showing them in roles “that did not allow them to take charge of their own destinies. Women had to rely on men to come save the day” (Brenneman 21). This would be right before WWII and eventually lead into it. These “propaganda messages instructed women how to behave at home and asked for women as volunteers and workers” (Brenneman 22). The propaganda and films that were present at that time helped the general public create this vision of how women are and how they should be and normalized it to the point where it can be considered okay and acceptable to be shown in a comic. It went from that to eventually showing them as “valiant, patriotic caretakers, volunteers and workers, all of whom have the ultimate priority of helping the war effort in whatever ways they can” (Brenneman 21). But this preconceived notion that was loosely based off of the posters and films that were already present for some time made that culture believe that this is how women should be and how they actually are. The point of “Women had to rely on men to come save the day” (Brenneman 21) overlaps completely with the plot from the Capt Wonder comic strip. The “damsel in distress” falls into the mans arms and must be saved from the danger. The comics are a direct representation of the misrepresentation of the women during that time. These notions and ideologies of how women should be and act is just a fabrication done by media (meaning film, comics, propaganda). In World War II propaganda, “Women, incapable of protecting themselves, serve as the grounds on which to persuade men to exert their masculinity and vanquish the enemy” (Kumar 298), this being much like the comic strips that were created which the likes of Buddy Breckenridge and Capt Wonder showing off their masculinity in order to save the female.
The same regurgitated female characters appear in the vast majority of comics during World War II that showcase a female character. They have the same characteristics and it is those characteristics that are distorted, unrealistic and misrepresented. Through cultural perception that is heavily influenced by the use of media, comic book creators create these female characters that are unlike how females actually were in real life. Secondary, Static and Stock are indicators, which describe the type of character that a female was in 1940s comic books. 1940s comic books are a direct representation of how the general public thought during that time and what there views and ideologies were. Even though propaganda geared towards women changed over time, that perception of them as being weak and essentially second to men stayed the same. This was as a result of the media previously associating them with terms like that and causing people to believe and be persuaded by it, forming these distorted visions of women.
Gourley, Catherine. Rosie and Mrs. America: Perceptions of Women in the 1930s and 1940s. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2008. Print.
Gluck, Sherna Berger. Rosie the Riveter Revisited: Women, the War, and Social Change. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Print.
Hall, Martha L., Belinda T. Orzada, and Dilia Lopez‐Gydosh. “American Women’s Wartime Dress: Sociocultural Ambiguity regarding Women’s Roles during World War II.” The Journal of American Culture, vol. 38, no. 3, 2015, pp. 232-242.
Brenneman, Brianne. “‘Morale Boosting Necklines’ and Other Forms of Support: Propaganda Aimed at American Women in World War II Films.” Film International, vol. 13, no. 4, 2015, pp. 20-22.
Kumar, Deepa. “War Propaganda and the (AB)Uses of Women: Media Constructions of the Jessica Lynch Story.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, 2004, pp. 297-313.
Enloe, Cynthia H. Does Khaki Become You?: the Militarization of Women’s Lives. Pandora, 1988.
Dingle, Adrian, et al. Triumph Comics: No. 19. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, 1944.
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
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
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.
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
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
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).
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.
Copyright 2017 Sarah Patriarca, Ryerson University
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 â 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Upon first glance, the 15th edition of Commando Comics published in January of 1945 may seem like an innocent comic meant to entertain and delight Canadians during a tumultuous time during World War II. However, after further examining its propagandistic subtleties scattered throughout this issue, it becomes clear that these comics were not simply blatantly racist and nationalistic but were a result of and contributor to the anti Japanese and German-phobic ideals that were being perpetuated throughout the allied nations during WWII. By portraying certain depictions of the enemy meant to represent an entire country of people, the 15th issue of the Commando Comics helped feed into this notion that all of the Japanese and all of the German people were inherently evil and inferior, whether they were directly involved with the war or not, ultimately giving rise to racist sentiments throughout the allied nations.
It was in the early 1930’s that the comic book industry really started to gain ground as a mainstream source of media and entertainment. With the release of Action Comics No.1, which featured the now iconic hero Superman co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the popularity of comic books continued to rise, subsequently inspiring others to contribute their own costumed characters to the growing industry (Bell). In 1939, despite the outbreak of war overseas, the comic book industry continued to rise in popularity and began to spread throughout Canada. However in December of 1940, faced with a country that was experiencing the demands of a war economy and a growing trade deficit with the United States, the King government passed the War Exchange Conservation Act, effectively putting a stop to nonessential goods being imported into Canada, including comic books (Bell). Taking advantage of these war time restrictions, multiple Canadian publishers began to distribute their own comic books featuring uniquely Canadian superheroes; one publisher being Bell Features who was publishing more than 100 000 comics per week, including Commando Comics (Bell).
NATIONALISM & PROPAGANDISTIC DEPICTIONS
Throughout war, one of the driving forces on any home-front has always been to instill and call upon nationalism throughout that specific nation; to gather support, to help with enlisting, and to raise moral throughout a country during an extremely difficult time. It was no different in Canada during World War II. The Canadian Whites collection were simply a more disguised form of propaganda meant to rally nationalistic sentiments throughout the country, as are most Superhero comic books. Although comic books simply seem like an appealing children’s story that are based on childhood superhero fantasies, they are usually a more complex, nationalist allegory (Heet). The Superheroes that Bell Features were publishing were nationalist ones who really spoke to Canadian’s pride and belief that they were essential in defeating Hitler and the Nazis. Johnny Canuck for example, who appeared in several Bell Features comics, continuously fought and overcame Nazi oppression and was crucial in the destruction of Hitler’s war material factories, all the while being praised by Winston Churchill who was in awe over what this Canadian hero was achieving (Heet). This nationalistic depiction can be seen throughout the 15th edition of the Commando Comics as well, in the way that the Canadian heroes are drawn and displayed. In The Young Commandos, written and illustrated by Jerry Lazare, the young heroes are drawn as very handsome, tough, muscular men, embodying the most positive physical characteristics that Canada would want to see in their heroes (10-15). These characteristics used to positively depict Canadians can be seen in other stories throughout this edition; including Chick Tucker, written and illustrated by Alfred Zusi, Ace Bradley, written and illustrated by Harry Thomson, and Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon, Part 2, written and illustrated by Adrian Dingle. These depictions of the Canadian heroes illicit a sense of nationalism within Canadians, for they are handsome, tough and embody everything Canadians want to see in both their heroes and within themselves.
In stark contrast to the way in which the Canadian heroes were depicted in the Commando Comics, the vilified nations of Japan and Germany were made to look like unintelligent and crude barbarians who were much inferior to the Canadians who always thwarted them. In one of the Bell Features comics, Hitler is portrayed as illiterate fool, speaking in a bad mix of English and German to the people of Germany; “Peoples of der Reichtag, ve haff been informed through der Gestapo that John Canuck is now in der country … he must be found! I vill giff 10,000 marks for him…dead or alive!!” (Heet). This portrays the Germans as illiterate and intellectually inferior to Canadians and the allied nations. Furthermore, in the 15th issue of Commando Comics, in the story Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon , the Japanese hiss when they pronounce their ‘s’’s, as shown in the image below (Dingle 6).
Likewise in The Invisible Commando, they cannot form full sentences (Bachle 35). This further perpetuates the idea that the German and Japanese are not only evil, dangerous enemies, but that they are illiterate making them intellectually inferior to the Allies. These crude depictions of the Japanese and Germans seen throughout the 15th edition of Commando Comics not only portray them as unintelligent illiterates, but they also portray the people of those nations as scary, ugly men. In The Young Commandos, Jerry Lazare draws the villain Kato Aomori as a thick headed, buck toothed man who is losing his hair in patches (12). In Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon, the Japanese villains are depicted as larger men, with hunched over almost buffoonish stances, with bucked teeth and thick necks (Dingle 4-5). These portrayals emphasize the widespread notion during WWII that the Japanese were not only inferior to the Allies in warfare and intellectual standing, but also in physical appearance. This comic book helped perpetuate the propagandistic notion that the Allied nation’s enemy was inferior to them in every way.
“YELLOW PERIL”; FEAR & DETAINMENT OF JAPANESE- CANADIANS
These notions of Japanese inferiority that the Canadian Whites –including Commando Comics– perpetuated helped give rise to anti Japanese sentiment that was beginning to fester in Canada during the latter half of World War II. In British Columbia the racist colour metaphor know as “Yellow Peril” began to rise, and in 1942 the Canadian government started to detain and dispose of any people of Japanese descent living there. Racism towards the Japanese in Canada was not unheard of before their detainment; laws in British Columbia had previously prevented Japanese peoples from working in mines, from voting and excluded any whom the people of British Columbia declared to be an ‘undesirable’ from being involved with any project funded by the province (Marsh). On December 7th 1941, following attacks on Pearl Harbor and bombings in Hong Kong where Canadian troops were stationed, fears of the Japanese and a possible invasion became heightened throughout Canada, giving rise to their distrust of the Japanese. Japanese schools and newspapers were subsequently shut down, and 1,200 Japanese-owned fishing boats were impounded by the Royal Canadian Navy (Marsh).
The racist sentiments held towards the Japanese people were in full effect after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and propaganda such as the Commando Comics only furthered the Canadians’ belief that the Japanese were crude monsters who deserved to be feared and detained. Because of these fears, on February 24th 1942, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie issued an order to remove “any and all persons” in the country; although those orders were ambiguous enough to allow the detention of any person, the specific target of the issue was the Japanese Canadians, specifically along the West Coast (Marsh). The British Columbia Security Commission was soon established with the purpose of carrying out Japanese internment, and on March 16th the first Japanese Canadians were taken by special trains that brought them to Hastings Park, where eventually more than 8,000 detainees would pass through (Marsh).
The anti-Japanese racism was not solely confined to British Columbia, but was spread throughout Canada during WWII. By the end of WWII, over 90 % of Japanese Canadians had been uprooted and displaced and sent to internment camps such as the one seen in the image below. By the end of the war over 21 000 people, most of whom were Canadian citizens by birth, had been interned (Marsh). By the end of the war, Prime Minister King did not show any remorse for the way he and his government had been treating the Japanese Canadians, instead giving them an ultimatum; to move to Japan or to spread to the provinces east of the Rocky Mountains (Marsh).
Ideas that are espoused in Commando Comics issue 15, helped give rise and distribute these extreme anti- Japanese sentiments throughout Canada during WWII. By maintaining that the Japanese were barbaric monsters who were inferior to the Canadians and the Allied Nations in every way, Canadian citizens began to see Japanese Canadians as the crude monsters they were depicted as. Major-General Kenneth Stuart, who served Canada in both World War I and II, wrote that “from the army point of view, I cannot see that Japanese Canadians constitute the slightest menace to national security” (Marsh). Despite those who advocated for the Japanese-Canadians and against the treatment they were receiving from the Canadian government during WWII, Escott Reid who was a Canadian diplomat during the war, said that Canadian politicians due to their rage towards and fear of the Japanese, spoke about them in the way that the Nazis spoke about the Jewish people of Germany. Reid stated, “When they spoke I felt… the physical presence of evil” (Marsh). There was already an anti-Japanese sentiment on the rise throughout Canada during the onset of WWII, and propaganda such as Commando Comics issue 15 only furthered this racist, biased position by distributing crudely drawn and illiterate representations of the Japanese people.
RESURGENCE OF GERMAN-PHOBIC IDEALS THROUGHOUT CANADA
Issue no. 15 of Commando Comics not only depicts Japanese people as inferior, but it also portrays the Germans as evil, uneducated villains as well. In Loop The Droop written and illustrated by Harry Brunt, Hitler is depicted as a bumbling buffoon, who scares easily and spends his days in fear of the United Nations. At one point he is waiting around in Berchtesgaden, speaking in a mangled mixture of German and English; “I vunder vot der United Nations haff up dere sleeves now? (sigh)… Diss zuzbenz iz driving me grazy- my nerves iss all on edge!” (Brunt 55-56). This depiction of Germany’s leader, speaking English whilst alone with a poor German accent, perpetuates the notion that Germans are foolish and cannot speak properly making them intellectually inferior to Canadians. Propaganda such as this contributed to German-phobic sentiments during WWII because Canadians were being shown not to fear the Germans, for they were simply scaredy-cats and bumbling idiots.
Anti-German sentiments such as this were present before WWII, and were widespread throughout Canada. In World War I for example, an extreme backlash against the Germans and all things German became prominent within Canada. Public schools removed any German curricula from their schools; orchestras refused to play German compositions; and in Winnipeg residents went as far as to change the name ‘hamburger’ to nip so that any association with Germany and the enemy language was eradicated (Anti-German Sentiment). Furthermore, a small town named Berlin in Ontario that was home to many German Canadian citizens became the focus of unease after avid patriots removed a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I from the centre of the town. In the hopes of eliciting nationalistic feelings the town committee changed its name to Kitchener in 1916 (Anti-German Sentiment).
These fears and concerns were being perpetuated through the use of anti-German propaganda. From the beginning of WWI most Canadians demonized the enemy, believing stories from overseas of supposed German war-crimes and accepting without question fabricated German atrocities. The war propaganda being perpetuated throughout Canada convinced Canadians of the Germans’ barbarity and reinforced stereotypes that intentionally obscured the line between fact and fiction (Anti-German Sentiment). This propaganda soon referred to German Kultur as “a damning insult, a predisposition for war, cruelty, and destructiveness” (Anti-German Sentiment). This stamp on German culture placed the Germans outside of a community of civilized nations, depicting them as barbaric and inferior. While Commando Comics issue no. 15 may not reach this level of severity towards the Germans, it still helped perpetuate notions that the Germans were not only inherently evil villains, but also intellectually inferior and therefore easy to defeat in battle.
Despite the work of ‘revisionist’ scholars who labored tirelessly to reconstruct the way Germany was seen by the Western World post WWI, there was a permanent Germanphobic view that resided deep in the minds of the Westerners (Connors). During WWII these deep-set views were called upon and exploited by writers who espoused Germanphobic literature and propaganda that was worse than that of WWI (Connors). Propaganda such as Commando Comics. Anti-German –which is distinct from anti-Nazi– views were given wide publicity by anti-German newspapers and were espoused with such enthusiasm that it was hard to not believe that all of the Germans were solely responsible for WWII (Connors). Even a distinguished professor and writer from Australia who was known for being impartial wrote:
“The Germans are a politically retarded race. They are still in the “myth” stage of development … The Germans have never wanted democracy; they crave for authority, and respect the strong arm. They do not want individual freedom … The average German would much rather salute a uniform than have a vote … The German is designed by history and nature to provide mass material for dictatorship.” (Connors)
Harsh, unrelenting propaganda such as this, caused Canadians and other Allied nations to look down upon the Germans and regard them as inferior; intellectually, politically and in every other sense of the word. Anti-German propaganda became widespread throughout not only Canada, but in Britain, Australia and the United states as well, reaching extreme proportions (Connors). In the 15th issue of Commando Comics, depicting the Germans as buffoonish clowns who are afraid of their own shadows and who cannot form proper sentences, only further perpetuated these Germanphobic sentiments within Canada. This ultimately caused Canada to not simply fear the Germans, but to mock and loath an entire supposed, barbaric nation.
The 15th edition of Commando Comics’ underlying propagandistic tones, perpetuated anti-Japanese and Germanphobic sentiments throughout Canada during WWII. Comic books, meant to delight and entertain are almost always nationalist allegories, and Commando Comics no.15 is no exception. With heroic, handsome depictions of Canadian heroes thwarting crude and barbaric portrayals of the enemy, Canadians began to believe that they were not only instrumental in defeating the Nazis and the Japanese, but that they were far more superior than their enemies. By portraying an entire nation as intellectually and physically inferior, Commando Comics issue no.15 helped contribute and give rise to racist sentiments that became prominent within Canada during World War II.
Bachle, Leo (w, a). “The Invisible Commando.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 30-35. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Brunt, Harry (w, a). “Loop the Droop.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 55-56. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Dingle, Adrian (w, a). “Clift Steele and the Mystery of Magon Pt. 2.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 1-7. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Lazare, Jerry (w, a). “The Young Commandos.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 10-15. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Thomson, Harry (w, a). “Ace Bradley.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 43-49. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Zusi, Alfred (w, a). “Chick Tucker.” Commando Comics, no. 15, January, 1945, pp. 37-42. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.
Commando Comics is a comic series printed from 1942-1946 with a dominant war theme shown throughout most, if not all, of the stories. Commando Comics were the final of the Bell Features’ comic series. These comics are part of a collection called the Canadian Whites produced by Bell Features, a comic publishing company (Kocmarek 155). The front and back covers are produced in colour while the rest of the book is all in black and white. These comics were sold for $0.10 at the time they were printed, but today are worth significantly more than that due to how difficult they are to find in readable condition.
In November 1944, volume 14 was printed and it is no exception to the war theme. There are 12 different black and white stories within the 48 pages all based around the war. Different individuals write a majority of the stories, and all contain different plots that always relate back to war.
Contextualizing The Comic in Daily Life
The CommandoComics were written during World War Two, this could explain the reason the comics were completely war-themed (Kocmarek 155). Adolescents and pre-adolescents of the time read these comics. The readers would have learned about the war through the different stories (Kocmarek 156). Although they were fictional, they still provided an insight to what it would have been like for the Canadian soldiers fighting against the enemies (Kocmarek 156). The comics were seen as the only source of information about war for the young age group because the newspapers were for an older audience, and television was no accessible as it is for the youth of today (Kocmarek 156-157).
The stories and characters would have been seen as very interesting to the youth because the war took place in a foreign place and contained storylines of violence and sabotage (Kocmarek 157). However, it could have provided the youth with hope because the Canadians in the stories were always successful in their missions. This could have caused the youth to have stronger beliefs in what the Canadian soldiers despite the stories being fictitious. The Commando Comics were an important source of information for the younger generations during the time of war, because the medium they were presented in was easily accessible and easily understood (Kocmarek 156). These comics became the primary source of information about Canadian soldiers and the war for the youth.
World War Two Background Information
World War Two lasted from 1939 to 1945. The Second World War was an entirely new battlefield for many Canadian soldiers. It was different climate and terrain than what most of them had ever experienced (Sumner 53). The Canadians along with the British and Americans were a part of the Allies, which is the side that ended up winning the war. The Allies were battling against the Axis, which was the side of the Germans, and the Japanese. This war used many different types of battle including surface ships and U-boats, and air warfare (Sumner 54, 57). The armies, navies, and air forces were the three different types of soldiers found on each side in the war (Sumner 57). The civilian and military intelligence organizations had to work hard to ensure that they could fulfill the needs of these three groups. It was very important for the military to know how to position their soldiers in order to win the war (Sumner 62). In the end, the Allies planning and decisions seem to have been effective because they are the ones who won World War Two.
Can Comics Train Soldiers?
In October of 1940, there was a newspaper article released in the Toronto Telegram called “Ottawa’s “Comic Capers” and Compulsory Service” about how comics were briefly used as way of training soldiers. The idea behind this was that the comics would have glorified the war instead of showing the harsh and brutal conditions the soldiers would be facing. This was supposed to appeal to young Canadians before beginning their 30 grueling days of preparing to defend Canada (Ottawa’s “Comic Capers”). However, this idea was not well received. It was seen as childish and offensive to recruits who were more intelligent and did not fit into the young Canadian demographic (Ottawa’s “Comic Capers”). However, it was soon decided that comics should be used as a form of entertainment where soldiers can be featured rather than a form of training for the soldiers who are going to go to war.
Soldiers in the Commando Comics
Every story is related to war whether it is soldiers fighting the Japanese, soldiers fighting the Germans, or a proposed idea for war success. There is always war, and with war comes soldiers. The Canadian soldiers portrayed in Commando Comics are always the stronger and smarter ones, and this always leads them to victory. Although, different artists draw the soldiers they have a lot of similarities.
The soldiers are all very masculine, young men in their mid-twenties who are well groomed, and basically the ideal soldier (Cord 50). The soldiers are always capable of getting themselves out of whatever trouble they are in, even when it seems impossible. The soldiers are drawn and presented in a way that positions them as smarter than the enemy and able to defeat them.
The image shown is from the opening image of “Invisible Commando” by Leo Bachle. Without explanation, or relevance to the rest of the storyline, the soldier is pictured shirtless. He is not only shirtless, but his muscles are well defined and he can be perceived as almost “Hulk-like”. He is extremely well groomed for someone who is at war with his helmet falling off his head revealing almost perfectly styled hair. He is holding a very large gun and aiming it out of the frame presumptively at an enemy. He looks like an ideal solider, and almost all the other soldiers are drawn with similar characteristics (most are wearing shirts, though).
The Real Soldiers of World War Two
Canadian soldiers in World War Two looked much different than the soldiers presented in the comic books. Advertisements for the army included a man who looked to be about 25 years old dressed in full uniform (Hayes and Goodlet 46). This man has on shined boots along with spurs and jodhpurs, a tailed jacket with a belt over his right shoulder complete with a tightly knotted tie (Hayes and Goodlet 45). This is supposed to be what the ideal and most masculine soldier was to look like. The Canadian soldier was encouraged to always wear a proper uniform (Hayes and Goodlet 59). Realistically he wore what he could in order to survive the harsh conditions. A shirtless existence would not suffice.
Masculinity is something that was almost enforced in the Canadian army during World War Two. The soldiers were meant to be as tough and “manly” as they possibly could be in order to be the best soldiers that they could be.
The soldiers in the Canadian army were typically around mid-twenties, making them more likely to be young and carefree. They were carefree because when they enlisted, many had no dependents (Grace 341). The more experienced soldiers had three or four years of service, but lack experience in civilian life. A lot of the soldiers did not have a lot of education due to other priorities in their lives furthered by the fact that they were unable to access education or the poverty in some areas (Grace 341). The soldiers were not very connected with the current events of that time as they had little access to newspapers. The men were instead taught about different part of Canada, which provided them with more information about their country and places in it that they had not been to (Grace 342). This kept them busy while educating them about their homeland.
The image shown depicts a Canadian soldier holding a large gun. He is said to be a Canadian paratrooper of the 1st Parachute Battalion, one of the first Canadians to land in France (Canada Alive!). He is wearing a full uniform, with a helmet on his head, and is not well groomed. Compared to the soldier presented in the Commando Comics, he looks prepared for war.
Many popular superheroes today came from American comic books, such as “Batman”, “Superman”, and the “Green Lantern” (Cord 28). However, these were not the only hero type seen in comics. Soldiers were viewed as heroes in many comic books, including American ones. Many of the American comics, similar to the Canadian ones had the main characters (soldiers) fighting and winning against various countries that were a part of the Axis. The comic soldiers lived easy lives where every situation had a doable solution despite the fact they were supposed to be living in a warzone.
The comics allowed everyone to feel as though they were a part of war through the stories being told. The comics were seen as truth, allowing children to identify different aspects of the war such as the weapons, uniforms, and language (Cord 48). The men were drawn as what one might the ideal soldier to look like complete with “handsome chiselled features, broad shoulders, and a superior knowledge of science and technology” (Cord 50). This is a very specific way that the soldiers were drawn, and is applicable to the Canadian comic soldiers as well.
Comic Soldiers versus Canadian Soldiers
The main difference between the comic soldiers and real soldiers seems to be the way that they look physically. Comic soldiers are always very muscular, well groomed, and not always dressed in the most war appropriate clothing (Cord 50). The Canadian soldiers do not have to be muscular, but they must be well trained. They are not as well groomed because it is real life war and looking the best that they can was definitely not a priority. They were dressed in ways that someone who is fighting a war should be. They tended to have the appropriate gear and weapons that they would need to survive as long as possible.
A similarity between the two types of soldiers is how they were perceived as masculine and manly. This was something that was highlighted not only in the comics, but also through many different types of media concerning Canadian soldiers. Soldiers seem to have been described simultaneous as soldiers and masculine (Shaw 24). No soldiers were described as weak or scrawny despite the unavoidable fact there were definitely some who were not as masculine as others. Masculinity seems to have been not only important to the comic soldiers, but also very important to the real Canadian soldiers.
The Commando Comics portray soldiers in a very specific way, even though all are drawn differently. The main idea of the soldier stays the same. They are muscular, handsome, smart, young men. They are the ideal people who one would have wanted to be protecting their country. The soldiers are usually holding weapons and come with an infallible plan about how to defeat the enemy. They are wearing significantly less gear and protection than they should be during war, but that usually does not matter since they do not get injured. The soldiers in the comics can be seen as the perfect soldier.
When the comic soldier is compared to the real Canadian soldier, the differences and similarities are obvious. However, both type of soldier (comic and real) can be seen as heroes in society. The soldiers in the comics always beat the enemy or save someone in distress. Real soldiers are fighting for Canada and freedom. It is important to understand the difference between the two soldiers because one is a reality while the other is not. The comic readers were almost being led to believe that Canadian soldiers were undefeatable, yet in reality they lived in harsh conditions and were fighting for their lives. The comics seem to show the soldiers going through minimal struggles to win, and always having the perfect equipment. World War Two was nothing like this; it was hard work and a lot of it. Although, the comics were aimed at the youth, it would still be beneficial for them to understand how hard the Canadian soldiers were working, and that it was not as easy as it is portrayed in the Commando Comics.
Soldiers are important to the comics and even more important to Canada. Through looking at the comic and real soldiers, they can both be seen to be significant to Canadian society. Without the comic soldiers, the contemporary youth would not have been able to learn about World War Two and how hard it was and how vital soldiers were to it. Without real soldiers, there would be nobody protecting Canada or keeping the peace, as Canadian soldiers are typically known to do. Soldiers show how their role in society is one that needs to be appreciated and understood through everything that they are able to accomplish through their enlistment or through their comic stories.
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.
A Canadian paratrooper of the 1st Parachute Battalion. These 600 men were the first Canadians to land in France on the night of June 5-6. 84 were killed. Canada Alive! Juno Beach, 5 June 2014. Photo. https://canadaalive.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/juno-beach/. Accessed 23 March 2017.
Grace, John. “The Canadian Soldier and the Study of Current Affairs.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), vol. 20, no. 3, 1944, pp. 341–46. www.jstor.org/stable/3018560. Accessed 23 March 2017.
Hayes, Geoffrey. & Goodlet, Kirk. W. “Exploring Masculinity in the Canadian Army Officer Corps, 1939-45.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes, vol. 48 no. 2, 2014, pp. 40-69. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/553724. Accessed 23 March 2017.
Kocmarek, Ivan. “Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way: The War-Time Comics of Bell Features Publications.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée, vol. 43, no. 1, March 2016, pp. 148–65. Project Muse, https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/article/611725/pdf. Accessed 23 March 2017.
Comic books in Canada during the second World War served as forms of entertainment for children. With its use of illustrations, stories, and advertisements, Canadian comics managed to attract children into reading them as it provides them with content that serve entertaining and fun through the eyes of children. However, comics are more than just forms of entertainment, but rather they are historical artifacts. Bell Features’ comic WOW Comics No. 6contains what would be considered entertaining for children at the time; superheroes, advertisements for toys, contests, and eye-popping illustrations, but examining the content and analyzing the way it resonates with its audience suggests what culture was like at the time the comic was produced.
This exhibit will explore comics as a form of media altogether and emphasize the role of comics as an expression of cultural views and ideologies as opposed to viewing comics simply as forms of entertainment. The research provided throughout this exhibit seeks to correlate culture and entertainment, and how both of these aspects serve to educate contemporary readers of the historical context of when such comics were produced to the public. This exhibit will answer the questions; what does WOW Comics No. 6 provide besides entertainment for contemporary readers? And why is it important to view WOW Comics No. 6 more than just entertainment?
Reputation and Underlying Significance of Comics:
Comics, as compared to literary books, textbooks, and even film, are generally regarded to be inferior forms of entertainment, or simply just disregarded altogether. Mark Berninger states that comics have been largely marginalized by critics and academics (4), thus suggesting that comics have little to no value for academic analysis and examination. This notion altogether indicates that comics, to a vast majority of scholars and critics, are generally looked down upon. It is difficult to determine which specific aspects of comic books hinder scholars and critics to examine the medium as academic research and it is tedious to come to an overall general conclusion. It is important to view comics more than just forms of entertainment. Berninger emphasizes that comics are an extension of ourselves and uniquely suited to describe the human experience (3). With this in mind, examining WOW Comics No. 6 requires one to reflect upon the context of which it was produced and created. To expand on the idea of the human experience and how it relates to comic books, comics are heavily influenced by the culture it stems from, in regards to WOW Comics No. 6, the stories and undoubtedly, the advertisements are strongly influenced by wartime during the 1940s.
A Window to the Past:
Context at the time of a comic’s development and production is crucial for understanding set ideologies and values. Casey Brienza argues that there is an urgent need to study the context of a comic at the time of its production (107). WOW Comics No. 6 presents shocking, and somewhat comical imagery towards the depiction of Adolf Hitler, racist stereotypes, and misogyny. To modern readers, these representations may be deemed appalling and deeply offensive in many ways, but that was not the case for Canadians at the time WOW Comics No. 6 was produced. The offensive depiction at the time was deemed normal and part of culture, it was a different time, and different views were established in Canada during the 1940s. Annessa Ann Babic emphasizes that comic books, much like movies and music, are created to sell, and that they are sold according to consumer demands and preferences (111). Drawing from this notion, WOW Comics No. 6’s content is derived from consumers’ wants and preferences at the time of production, Babic states that the public makes demands on what themes should be presented in comics, and how the pages of a comic book provide a glimpse of the culture of when the comic was produced (111).
With this in mind, analysis of comics requires acknowledgement of culture and ideologies, in this case, the content presented within WOW Comics No. 6 reflects the desires and expectations of the people living in that era. Culture and ideologies within a country changes over time, a comic book produced at a time where war played a huge impact globally gives modern readers a small fragment of what culture was like at the time.
Comics, Wartime, and the Everyday:
The material and content of WOW Comics No. 6 is evidently influenced by wartime as it is clearly represented in sections such as the contest titled “What Would You Do With Hitler and his Gang?”. With the second world war in full effect, WOW Comics No. 6 implemented themes of war and nationalism in both the comic’s stories and advertisements. Looking at comics as a historical artifact, the contents and themes presented within the comic evidently identifies itself with what was going on in Canadian society.
With stories such as “Dart Daring and the Horror in the Hills” by E.T. Legault, and advertisements within the comic such as toy airplane advertisements, the notion of war and wartime playing a huge impact on Canadian society managed to find its way in merchandise and entertainment. WOW Comics No. 6 serves as a window to society at the time of the second world war, or as Frank Bramlett defines it, as the everyday in that the comic portrays notions of war and conflict through its superhero narratives. Bramlett emphasizes the notion of the everyday and the quotidian as presented in comic books through its story and characters. As Bramlett states, comics illustrates the quotidian to a high degree, the representation of the everyday in comics become reflexive to the reader, supporting the everyday through use of characters, dialogue, settings and narratives (247).
The everyday as shown in Dart Daring and Whiz Wallace presents the reader with the story’s heroes in a state of conflict and some sort of call of duty. The concept of the everyday expressed though the characters in the comic links to the everyday life of readers at the time. The stories and narratives presented in both “Dart Daring and the Horror in the Hills” and “Whiz Wallace and Two Worlds at War” evidently reflect the issues people had to deal with during the war. The distinction between the heroes and villains presents a stark contrast between the two groups where the villains are dehumanized and stereotypically labelled as seen in “Dart Daring”.
Comics are not only forms of visual entertainment for children, but it captures worldviews and culture through its presentation of stories, narratives, and characters. The link between war and conflict in “Dart Daring and the Horror in the Hills” and war and conflict in the context of the everyday of the readers during wartime indicate that comics do indeed mirror and reflect culture and ideologies at the time of the comic’s production. Comics encapsulate the everyday of the readers through its depiction of plot development, characters and character visuals. Looking more closely at “Dart Daring and the Horror in the Hills”, the antagonistic group, which appears to be Natives, are identified as “savages” (Legault 6). The name in itself suggests stereotypical views towards their enemies much like propaganda posters presented to the public. The advertisements within WOW Comics No. 6 clearly mirror propaganda posters with its stereotypical, comical and antagonistic view towards Germany, Adolf Hitler, and the Japanese. Bramlett emphasizes that comics rely on the reader’s sense of the everyday; comics incorporate culture’s view of the everyday into its characters, story and narratives (258).
In regards to history, WOW Comics No. 6 mirrors societal views and ideologies and provides contemporary readers a brief understanding of culture and ideologies at the time it was produced. For contemporary readers, WOW Comics No. 6demonstrates the reality and everyday notions of a country influenced by war. It signifies the way war has affected communication and depiction of people towards its readers, and for us contemporary readers, it signifies a tiny piece of history and the culture and ideology that comes with it.
Propaganda as an Agent of Ideology:
WOW Comics No. 6contains heavy implications of nationalism, and antagonism towards Canada’s enemies at the time. It presents an abundance of nationalistic views, and propaganda, whether it be presented in a subtle or obvious manner.“Dart Daring and the Horror in the Hills” depicts Daring’s enemies as stereotypical “Indians”, are represented as hostile and villainous, and are referred to as “savage” (Legault 3). Advertisements are of war-related merchandise or purchases such as war saving stamps, and a contest titled, “What Would You Do With Hitler and his Gang?”, which bluntly antagonizes and ridicules Hitler and the Japanese, which they are referred to as “dirty japs” (32). The notion of propaganda presented in WOW Comics No. 6 and how it is presented gives contemporary readers an understanding of how communication was handled during the 1940s in Canada.
With propaganda popping up in every page of the comic, it is important to explore the psychology behind propaganda in order to understand why this certain era relied on it to speak to its viewers. Ryan Jenkins discusses the concept of propaganda and who it really benefits. According to Jenkins, propaganda serves beneficial solely for the propagandist rather than the people who view it (1). With communication in mind, examining WOW Comics No. 6 requires exploration of the propagandist, Jenkins claims that the propagandist fill their needs and wants only if it furthers their ideologies (10). Propaganda plays a huge role in Canadian culture at the time, propagandist forced specific outlooks towards Canada’s enemies at the time. The question that comes to mind is, what is the significance of this in regards to comics as an agent of historical context?
Propaganda is meant to forcefully deliver the perspective and ideologies of the propagandist, because WOW Comics No. 6 is littered with propaganda, readers can interpret the perspectives and motivations behind the propaganda presented within the comic; what the propagandist is trying to communicate and what does it say about Canadian culture in the 1940s. For readers, analyzing propaganda within the comic enables us to decipher cultural outlooks on specific groups of people and the notion of war, an example of this is the representation of children’s interaction. Going back to the “What Would You Do with Hitler and his Gang” section,it is extremely difficult to deny that the outlook on Canada’s enemies are represented as overly comical, but perhaps there is a deeper message in regards to how Canadians sought to communicate with their readers. For the most part, Bell Features comics was catered towards children, the activities and stories were meant to be read and engaged with by children at the time.
Because WOW Comics No. 6 was focused on this age group, the inclusion of war related themes and propaganda suggests that Canadian culture during the second world war sought to involve children with wartime efforts in a very blunt manner, which also suggests that Canadian culture at the time made no effort to keep war discreet towards children. The inclusion of propaganda in a comic book further supports the idea that comics are an agent of historical context, as the messages being conveyed give modern readers a sense of how a country communicated to its consumers, in this case, how Canada communicated to children during the war.
WOW Comics and the Truth of Ideology:
Comic books as a whole serve as much more than what it is originally perceived as. To an extent, comic books are miniature history textbooks encapsulating a piece of history held together with paperback covers and printing paper. The comic contains Canadian ideology from the past, and provides, as well as educates readers of what culture was like at the time of the comic’s production. Perhaps most importantly, WOW Comics No. 6 encapsulates needed accuracy of Canadian ideology in the 1940s.
History textbooks and secondary sources speaking of Canadian history and views can potentially be altered to create a false image of Canada; a fragmented outlook on Canada and Canadians during the struggles and influences of war. The essentiality of the comic is that it is clear and unedited. The content is all there and everything is intact in terms of thematic elements and messages given to the reader at the time. With the lack of editing and possible fragmentation of information, WOW Comics No. 6 signifies a piece of history that is accurate of Canadian ideology.
Babic, Annessa Ann. Comics as History, Comics as Literature: Roles of the Comic Book in Scholarship, Society, and Entertainment. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, December 2013, pp. 111-22. ProQuest site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/lib/oculryerson/reader.action?docID=10823569
Bramlett, Frank. “The Role of Culture in Comics of the Quotidian.” Journal of Graphic Novels & Comics. December 2010, pp. 246-59. Schlars Portal Journals, journals1.scholarsportal.info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/details/21504857/v06i0003/246_trocicotq.xml
Brienza, Casey. “Producing Comics Culture: A Sociological Approach to the Study of Comics.” Journal of Graphic Novels & Comics. December 2010, pp. 105-19. Scholars Portal Journals, journals2.scholarsportal.info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/details/21504857/v01i0002/105_pccasattsoc.xml
Berninger, Mark. Comics as a Nexus of Cultures. McFarland & Company, Inc. April 2014. ProQuest, ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/lib/ryerson/reader.action?docID=1594826
Legault, E.T. and Henly, J.O. “Thrilling Adventures of Dart Daring Master Swordsman.” WOW Comics, no. 6, March, 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada. data2.collectionscanada.gc.ca/e/e447/e011166669.pdf
Jenkins, Ryan. “The Thin Line Between Propaganda and Persuasion.” Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013. December 2013, pp. 1-61. ProQuest, search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1524023363?pq-origsite=summon
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.