Category Archives: WOW Comics

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

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

© 2018 Kelley Doan, Ryerson University

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

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

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

Canadian Comics: The Origin Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Propaganda in Comics: The Art of Persuasion

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

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

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

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

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

Not All Heroes Are Super

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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


Works Cited

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

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

Bachle, Leo. Johnny Canuck. 1945.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under-representation of Women in Whiz Wallace

© Copyright 2017 Ashlyn Good, Ryerson University

Introduction

Women have been misrepresented for years in comics, especially during the second world war. They were underrepresented within comics because they were not given credit for everything they did do during the war effort, and should be able to at least have a better depiction of themselves within media if they do not get the credit they deserve in real life.
This exhibit will be exploring the portrayal and interpretation of gender roles in comics during World War 2 in Wow Comics No. 9. The story of Whiz Wallace will be analyzed to demonstrate the struggles between power among the gender roles, the language used to describe and differentiate between characters and their roles, as well as the illustrations used which help to depict the discrimination that is implied within the comic.

 Language and Interpretation of Character

The language used within this issue of Wow Comics is very discriminatory especially during that time period. It is important because it affects the way we interpret and perceive women in the text. In Whiz Wallace, the language that the author has used implies that Elaine is evidently weaker than Whiz and seems to be dependent on him to save her. This allows the audience to interpret her as the lesser gender which is unfair to women because during that time period in real life they were actually quite useful and sometimes even more useful than men. According to the book, The 10 Cent War: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War 2, “part of the traditional cultural structure placed men as protectors and women as protected” (Kimble, 39). In Whiz Wallace, Elaine is the more vulnerable character and depends on Whiz to save her most of the time.  Elaine is portrayed as this weak woman whom can not seem to defend herself while Whiz is depicted as strong and masculine. This means that gender roles were significant during this time and it is clearly depicted in the story of Whiz Wallace that Elaine was meant to be protected and not the protector because of her gender.

C.T Legault. Panel from “Whiz Wallace.” Wow Comics No.9, Bell Features and Publishing Company, pg. 57. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives.

In addition, another character who is also a woman is portrayed as slightly vulnerable even though she plays a powerful role: the Cobra Queen. She is a very powerful female character in this comic but unfortunately even she ends up depicted as vulnerable and more feminine rather than a strong female character. In the comic, the queen is introduced to readers as sad and void (Legault, 60) and as you continue to read on to the next page, the language used to describe the queen begins to change simultaneously. First she was a queen, then she was “queen-like”, then she became a “beautiful princess”(Legault, 61) and later on, she becomes a queen again. The change in description is significant because this means that the author gradually takes power away from this character and by doing so, exerts power onto the opposite gender almost automatically. Since this character was made more vulnerable because of language used to describe her, it proves that during this time period, men were automatically seen as the heroes or the protectors and labourers. Men are the ones who put in the most work according to the train of thought of other men during that time period and the language used within this comic is used deliberately to create an interpretation about a certain character(s).

Fig. 2: C.T Legault. Panel from “Whiz Wallace.” Wow Comics No.9, Bell Features and Publishing Company, pg. 60. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives.

Illustration and Interpretation of Women

The depiction and illustration of women within this comic is very significant because it adds to how readers interpret their character, especially women. Women are usually highly sexualized within media and it has been this way for a very long time because of the patriarchal society that has impacted it. In Whiz Wallace, the Cobra Queen and Elaine both wear more slim-fitting clothing which exposes more skin creating a more sexualized, alluring appearance which creates a sexualization which brings about the interpretation that women are sexual objects that are portrayed in order to visually please men. During this time period, women were out doing manual labour on the homefront while men were at war. This meant that a change in roles would mean a change in style as well. According to an article written about women during the war, “this change of dress is symbolic of the change in American women’s roles during the war. This adoption of masculine dress, by literally wearing the pants, is an outward expression of the cultural shift in women as homemakers to women as worker”(Hall, 237). Even though women were of great use to the war effort at the time, they were still portrayed as sexual objects with a vulnerable and feminine touch within the comic, especially in Whiz Wallace because even at the end of the comic, the Cobra Queen is clearly attracted to Whiz, even though he is merely an Earthman. Overall, “there are fewer women than men… portrayed as interested in romance or as less-powerful adjuncts to male characters, the women are shown in skimpy clothing and in poses that accentuate their curves while male characters are portrayed as athletic and action-oriented” (Cocca, 7). This demonstrates that women will be seen as lesser than men and the author of the comic has depicted that women are sexual beings which are created in order to please men.

 

“Mansel in Distress”: Power Struggle Between Genders and Characters

In the comic, there is an interesting power struggle among gender roles within Whiz Wallace, because of the differences and similarities between Elaine and the Cobra Queen, in contrast to Whiz, and his more masculine role. According to the book, Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation, “the superhero genre in comics… underrepresents women in position of power, both as real life creators and as fictional characters” (Cocca, 1). In this comic, the Cobra Queen is a strong female character in the sense that she is the one to save Whiz and Elaine from the army of dwarves that were ready to kill them. The Cobra Queen is introduced as a vulnerable character, who is sad and who seems to have a void as though she is missing something, but then she becomes this powerful character who takes charge and gets rid of the dwarves in order to save Whiz and Elaine. She is an interesting character because she is still portrayed as more vulnerable from Whiz even though she saved his life because near the end of the comic, she seems to be attracted to Whiz and it seems as though there could be a sort of love triangle or even a conflict because there is Elaine who also depends on Whiz for protection and potentially attraction. She calls him a “handsome earthman” (Legault, 63), which means that she must be attracted to him in some way.

In contrast, Elaine is portrayed as more dependent on Whiz to protect her because in the comic she does not seem to be able to take care of things on her own without referring back with Whiz. For example, when the couple was getting attacked the army of dwarves, Elaine was not able to handle it and had to wait for Whiz to save her because her character is depicted as weak and vulnerable and clearly unable to handle herself (Legault, 57). They are referred to as a couple in the comic which means there must be some sort of relationship between them and since Elaine depends on Whiz more, this clearly demonstrates that Whiz is the one with the power between the three characters.

Furthermore, Whiz is depicted as masculine and strong which men usually are within media, especially during that time period, which exerts a type of power which is clearly demonstrated throughout the entire story. Even though Whiz is sort of a ‘mansel in distress’ in this comic, he still contains a significant power of the women in the story. He attracts both female characters with his looks which sexualizes the women within the comic proving them to be more vulnerable than men, making them lose their power almost altogether. The characters in this comic struggle metaphorically with power in relation to who is the more dominant gender.

 

Conclusion

Overall, women are misrepresented within comics as well as during the war effort at that time. In this comic, even though there was more stronger, female character, she was still depicted as vulnerable with very feminine qualities. Then there was Elaine, who was depicted as the typical damsel in distress, awaiting Whiz to save the day. According to the book Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation, “the underrepresentation of women… and the repetition of inequalities in fiction… are unacceptable and can and must be changed” (Cocca, 5). This means that women should have been given a chance in real life as well as in the media to show how useful they really were as opposed to weak and useless.

Works Cited

  • Legault,​ ​E.​ ​T.,​ ​et​ ​al.,​ ​editors.​ ​​Wow Comics: No. 9.​ ​Bell​ ​Features​ ​and​ ​Publishing​ ​Company, 1942
  • Hall, Martha L., et al. “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. 232–42. Scholars Portal Journals, doi:10.1111/jacc.12357.
  • Bloomsbury.com. “Superwomen.” Bloomsbury Publishing, www.bloomsbury.com/us/superwomen-9781501316579/.
  • Goodnow, Trischa, and James J. Kimble, editors. The 10 Cent War: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War II. University Press of Mississippi, 2016.

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.

Dizzy Don and the Pompous Propaganda, Issue 2017

Copyright © 2017 Matthew Perfetti, Ryerson University

Introduction:

By Martin Goodman
Captain America breaking the fourth wall to promote the purchase of War bonds. Martin Goodman. USA Comics #7, 1943

            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:

Make sure not to ride by yourself or else the Führer will be right next to you. Weimer Pursell. Painted for the U.S. Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration, 1943.

            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:

On the left we see the Villian being the only driver while on the right we see our Heros driving together. Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 3 and 4

            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:

Ernie Kovacs on the left, Manny Easson in the middle and an early sketch of Dizzy Don on the right. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Easson Find.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 10 Dec. 2014,

            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.

            The Verdict:

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.

The ending page for most Dizzy Don comics, showcasing all the sponsors and other comics from the same company. Easson, Manny.”Dizzy Don and the Black Gas Racket”. Funny comics, no. 13 September 1944, pp. 3 and 4

 


Work cited:

  1. 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.
  2. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Manny ‘Dizzy Don’ Easson.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 11 Apr. 2013, www.comicbookdaily.com/collecting-community/whites-tsunami-weca-splashes/manny-dizzy-don-easson/.
  3. Kocmarek , Ivan. “Easson Find.” Comicbookdaily, Whites Tsunami, WECA Splashes, 10 Dec. 2014, www.comicbookdaily.com/collecting-community/whites-tsunami-weca-splashes/easson-find/.
  4. Long, Tony. “Dec. 1, 1942: Mandatory Gas Rationing, Lots of Whining.” Wired, Conde Nast, 29 Aug. 2017, www.wired.com/2009/11/1201world-war-2-gasoline-rationing/.
  5. Quednau, Rachel. “WWII Carpooling Propaganda.” Strong Towns, Quednau, 8 Oct. 2015, www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/10/8/wwii-carpooling-propaganda.
  6.  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
  7. Viotte, Michel, director. Spider-Man – Once Upon a Time the Super HeroesOnce Upon A Time The Super Heroes , 23 Dec. 2001, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySOOLp_SoDw.

 

Manipulation by Media

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

Children and History: Historic Childhood Novelty

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

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

 

Illustration: Visual Stimulation 

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

Vocabulary: Cunning Persuasion 

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

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

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

Work Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morale in “Wow Comics no. 17”

Introduction

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

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

Defining Morale

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

Context of Consumer Culture

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

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

Commodifying the War

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

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

“Hair-Raising Features”

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

Have no fear!: Heroism in the “Whites”

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

Heroism outside the war

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

Constructing villains

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

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

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

 Conclusion

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


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Women, the Second World War, and Misrepresentation

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

Damsel in Distress Trope

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

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

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

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

Lack of Acknowledgment for Female Characters

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

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

Benevolent Sexism

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

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

 

Sexism of Women in World War II

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

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

Figure 3, Beauty on Duty

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

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

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

To Make Men Free

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

 

 

Women’s Accomplishments in World War II

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

 

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

Depiction Of Heroes in Wow comics no. 12 © Copyright 2017 Sebin Kang, Ryerson University

Sebin Kang

Dr. Monique Tschofen            

ENG 810

29 November 2017

Depiction of Heroism in WOW Comics Issue no.12

Heroes have always been known throughout many stories and in real life. It has been established as a real concept without truly knowing what a hero really is. A firefighter, a nurse, and soldiers are all considered to be examples of heroes. Someone who saves or help people is what people generally believe a hero to be, or even something simple as doing the right thing can be considered a hero. For one thing, it is someone who we admire. Superheroes, on the other hand, might be considered something more than a hero, more specifically who can do the impossible. Superheroes or heroes both have similar characteristics, which is that they inspire and influence people. Specifically for people of the younger ages because children are at their growing stages and are prone to be influenced due to their minds constantly evolving and processing new information. The comic that I am analyzing shows how Canadian war heroes are depicted in comic books as superheroes. Superheroes have been present in comics since before World War II and the intended audience for these comics are the children. Real life war heroes inspired high morale during the wartime, and to convey their importance and inspiration to an audience of children, they were turned into superheroes in order to inspire young adolescents to do the same. Superheroes are created to inspire and during the production of this comic, times were difficult for people and the purpose of depicting heroes in comics was made to inspire and give hope to children. It was created with the intent to give positivity and hope to children during challenging times.

The comic that I have been assigned is Wow Comics no. 12, and the specific issue I will be studying on will be my examination of how Canadian war heroes are depicted in comic books as superheroes. In my comic, I have noticed that one of the stories in my comic was titled, Tommy Holmes, and I speculated that there was a reason why the comic was so detailed and once researched, I found that Tommy Holmes is a very real person who had fought in World War I and I found this particularly interesting because there is a reason why this was done so the way it was. Therefore, I will mainly focus on the story of Tommy Holmes and the depiction of the soldiers as superheroes as well as other stories within the comic.

Tommy Holmes and his heroics

Tommy Holmes is represented as the main hero of the story and helps in the contribution of the interpretation of heroes. The definition of heroes is different for everyone but one that is most notable for everyone is that it is someone who is selfless and a good person, as well as willing to risk their own life to save another. The story of Tommy Holmes starts off with a narration describing Tommy Holmes. It explains how Holmes was one of the youngest Canadian soldiers during World War 1 and has served with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, Canadian Expeditionary Force. When hearing the word “Soldier”, one understands it is a person who risks their life in order to fight for their country. This comic story dedicates Holmes as a hero in a couple of forms. It begins with the art of the comic and the narratives displaying the hardships of the war. Fallen weapons were shown to delve into the outcome of the war and, heavy rains causing a very dangerous and harsh environment for the soldiers to be in. Not only does this story emphasize on the heroics of Tommy Holmes, it also shows the heroics of all the soldiers. It shows fellow soldiers helping one another through the harsh environment. The beginning of this story already manifests how awful the Canadian wars were. This comic does a good job in the representation of war. Each panel shows the chaos of these violent images. This serves a purpose of showing the realism and to show the audience how horrifying war was through these brave soldiers who fought through the war and gave up their lives. It helps to show the heroics of these soldiers, specifically Tommy Holmes. There are many different types of heroes. Some heroes attack more while other heroes defend more. In my comic, it displays to be an attacker. He ran through the ranks in order to take out the enemies but he does not attack in a way to beat his opponents, he does it in order to defend his comrades. One must first understand basic hero types and why they were created in order to understand them. Superheroes generally have powers. In comics, people know they are superheroes because it is their job to be one. They dress up in costumes and fight crime but in these comics, the soldiers’ jobs are not supposed to be heroes. They do not fight to be known as heroes but fight until the end of the battle. Tommy Holmes does not have powers but he represents one. The comic shows this through Tommy’s real acts in the war. This was also shown in the comic when all his comrades could not do anything against the heavy machine gun fire but Tommy runs through the bullets and takes them down. It shows his bravery and courage and this is a major component in “superheroes”.
Superheroes are known for their bravery and courage and this comic does a good job of representing Tommy Holmes as a “superhero”

Construction of heroes in literature

In every comic, heroes are constructed differently. There is Superman who is considered to have been always good and righteous in every way or Spider-Man who learned through tragedy and became a hero. Superheroes are generally characters who have a well-rounded backstory while heroes can be anyone who does good. Tommy Holmes can also be considered as one. In the comic, the narrative explains who he is right from the start, and continues to tell the audience what he is best known for and what heroic deed he performed.

“Wow Comics, No. 12” , Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Writer’s Comic Book Collection. 1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

In these panels, the narrative describes the acts of Tommy with spontaneous words to amplify his heroism. Terms such as “Marvelous” and “Coolness” is used to describe his heroism. On the second panel as well, it describes how “good” he is, defeating Nazis and fighting for his country. When reading and learning about heroes, there are couple things people study. The heroes background is important because it lets the readers know who he is. Every superhero in comics has a backstory and this is one of the main reason why they are so popular. The history allows the readers to see the growth and transformation the character goes through. Using exaggerated words such as “Spectacular” or “marvelous” helps to make the characters greater because the readers are being told who and what attributes to admire. What my comic does in the study of heroes is that firstly they used a real person who was a hero as a character which establishes the term, heroism. They gave the necessary history the audience needed to know to understand this story

Tommy Holmes’ Heroic Acts

. The comic also tends to optimize everything. They build up the character’s good qualities. In the panel below, two soldiers are staring in awe at Tommy for not being able to do what he did. They looked on in “amazement” and this shows how they encourage Tommy’s strength as a hero and this also displays his comrade’s reaction to admiration. Showing reactions also encourage and influence similar to laugh tracks in sitcoms to show the audience what they should be experiencing and doing. In the second panel, the narrative describes his ability to throw a grenade. In normal stories, just stating what is happening is the case but in comics, they make more of the situation. They exaggerate to show admiration. Comic’s make something simple as throwing a baseball into a more magnificent. If one were to look at the image without the narratives, Tommy is just throwing a grenade. It can be compared to a normal person throwing a baseball as such description but the narrative is what brings out the heroism. Comics job is to use both art and narratives to create a unique form of storytelling. Tommy Holmes is written as if he is a superhero due to the narratives. He has no superpowers yet he is looked upon by readers.This comic does a good job of displaying Tommy as a hero.

Comic heroes and the Influence

I have found sources which help inform people of heroism and the influence it has. In the article I have found, there is a passage stating “To understand the process whereby the Canadian comic book industry was repatriated as a part of Canadian nationalism, it is important to consider not only the history of the comic book in Canada but, more importantly, the ways that fan discourses help to shape the recuperation of the Canadian superhero during its second wave of popularity in the post-Centennial period by distinguishing it from superheroes in the United States.” (Making sense of the Canadian Superhero) This passage touches on the fact that fans influence characters in comics. During the times when Wow Comics were created, times were not happy. Comic book industries take notice of the war which influenced the stories they write. The illustrator and the writer knew who Tommy Holmes was and made him into a character because he influenced real people such as his fellow soldiers during the war and so by including him into comics to give the same effect on the audience reading the comics. Realizing the character in the comic was a real person and a hero contributes greatly in the war by influencing people due to admiration. During the war times, there was hardly any hope. The children’s fathers went out to war to fight not knowing if they would come back home to their families. Many supplies were lacking and the food was scarce because they were deposited and scattered in order to aid everyone. “As the war nears its devastating conclusion, both children are forced from the shelter of their families and must struggle to survive amid the rubble of a bombed-out Berlin” (Rennison, Nick. “Children in War.”), this article explains the lacking of supplies and homes children experienced during the war. Times were not simple and happy but more depressed and hopeless. People had to find small joys during the war to keep them positive and comics were the small joys of war. Comics gave joy and small hopes to kids and even adults. The comics also show influence in one of the other stories shown in my comic.

“Wow Comics, No. 12” , Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Writer’s Comic Book Collection. 1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

The story is called Whiz Wallace Bombers to Victory. In this comic, a heavy viewpoint of influence occurs when the main character Whiz Wallace, had to leave for the war and his love interest, Elaine Kenyon had to stay behind because she was a woman. When no one was looking, she had an idea to knock one of the pilots, put on his uniform and help fight. This did not go well as her plane crashed but she somehow survived. Although Elaine is a character from the comics, it still represents the realism of influence. Soldiers are depicted as “superheroes” which then influences people to do something and in this case, it influenced a grown woman to do some good. Children are the intended audience and as previously mentioned, kids are constantly growing and learning new information and are easily influenced. Seeing someone do something, can influence children’s behavior and in this case, can also influence children to do good as well. Even in the comic, admiration of heroism influenced the character to do the right thing. Heroes inspire not just kids but adults as well.

In conclusion, I have proved that all these elements were administered to further show the “super” in the heroism of Canadian soldiers in the war. This was shown with the usage of real characters, the comic form of narration, the construction of heroism of comics and the influences heroes have on people. As well as observing and analyzing the comic panels while mainly focusing on the comic form of Tommy Holmes and the way the story was written. This allows us to see the influence “superheroes” have on people through the depiction of soldiers as “superheroes” This is important because influence is a powerful tool and many would not see comic book as an influential tool. Comic books are seen as silly stories with pictures but there is so much more to a comic book than what it implies. Every child grew up admiring someone or something at one point and in this case, comics are the source of inspiration for the stories it tells.

___________________________________________________________________________

Work Cited

Beaty, Bart. “The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero.” American

Review of Canadian Studies 36.3 (2006): 427-39. Web. 24 Nov. 2017.

https://journals-scholarsportal-info.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/details/02722011/v36i0003/427_tfcsmsotcs.xml

“Thomas William Holmes VC.” Lives of the First World War,

livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/5933980#timeline.

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/5933980

Rennison, Nick. “Children in War.” Sunday Times, Jul 30, 2017, pp. 38, Global Newsstream,

http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1924355716?accountid=13631.

Wow Comics, No. 12 , Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Writer’s Comic Book Collection.

1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Disclaimer

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.

Appropriation and Misrepresentation: Race Issues in WOW Comics, Issue no. 15 © Copyright 2017 Nura Mohamed, Ryerson University

Nura Mohamed

Dr. Monique Tschofen

ENG810

29 November 2017

Appropriation and Misrepresentation: Race Issues in WOW Comics

Illustrations are used as a means to convey messages and information text cannot quite capture. Examining illustrations closely in WOW Comics issue no.15 reveal stereotypes and ideas imparted by the creators based on their opinions and the effect of their environments at the time of production. These comics were produced during WWII, a time where racial conflict ignited all around the world and negative stereotypes about ethnic minorities were widespread. Canada had different ethnic minorities fighting in the war efforts, including Indigenous, Black and Asian Canadians, therefore accurate representation of ethnic minorities in comics, or lack thereof is important to explore. The ways through which ethnic minorities are illustrated in this issue convey animalistic themes and messages of enmity. The illustrations also shed light on racial inequalities prevalent in Canada by always depicting white Canadian characters as heroes and characters of other ethnic backgrounds as villains.  In Marc Singer’s journal article “Black Skins” and White Masks: Comic Books and the Secret of Race”, he emphasises that racial stereotypes are understood through comics. He argues “Whether these stereotypes assume the form of unrealistic portrayals of racial minorities or an equally unrealistic invisibility, they often fulfill this double function of oppression and reaffirmation”, explaining how representation and erasure in illustrations found in comics matter in developing racial understanding. Despite the documented efforts of ethnic Canadians during WWII, literature created during that time often portrays them in a negative light or erases their efforts during the wartime. Analyzing my chosen comic’s illustrations will shed more light on the racial perceptions and stereotypes directed towards ethnic minorities in Canada during WWII.

Misrepresentation and Erasure in Statistics & Media:

Not only did ethnic Canadians face racial stereotypes similar to and worse than those illustrated in WOW Comics issue no.15, their efforts during wartime were misrepresented in government recordings. This inaccuracy assists in explaining the lack of diversity in the comics, as the documented reality did not support diversity, nor do the illustrations in the comics. The government documentation of ethnic Canadian participation in war efforts is directly contrasted by this comic’s lack of ethnic Canadian representation in recognizable military roles. Recorded facts clearly demonstrate participation, however inconsistencies in Canadian statistics make it difficult to gauge how misrepresenting and inaccurate the illustrations are. The Canadian government exemplifies statistical uncertainty through their use of language such as one about the Indigenous community that reports “At least 3,000 status (treaty) Indians – including 72 women – enlisted, as well as an unknown number of Inuit, Métis, and other Natives. The actual numbers were no doubt much higher” (WWII: Facts & Information). More exhaustive research reveals other ethnic groups contributed to Canadian wartime efforts, with records indicating that “‘Hundreds’ of blacks are said to have joined, as did 3,090 status Indians or 2.4 percent of males, a figure that does not include non-status or metis males. About six hundred Chinese-Canadians served, or  so  Chinese  cultural  groups  claim” (Granatsein 177). It is evident that despite poor record keeping, there is irrefutable proof of ethnic participation in WWII. While there are multiple comics in this issue depicting war scenes, no characters represent Canadians from ethnic backgrounds. All soldiers are Caucasian males in the comics, and these illustrations neglect representing ethnic Canadians efforts in WWII.   The comics serve as a representative example of how the documented realities of wartime efforts by ethnic Canadians were erased in mass media.

Indigenous “Savage” Representations in Illustrations:

The minimal representation ethnic minorities receive in the comics are characters that play the antagonist role of enemies, with animalistic illustrations. Regardless of ethnic Canadians efforts in establishing and strengthening Canada’s economy, communities, and war efforts, their role in Canada is diminished to that of an enemy. Indigenous depictions in the comic solidify this notion as Indigenous Canadians are represented as foreign savages because they did not fit the idea of what a Canadian would look like. Analyzing comic books reveal how the “savage” Indigenous character is a popular theme in North American popular culture. Richard King explains, “conventionally comic  books  confine  Native  Americans  within  ugly  images  and  partial  histories” (215), which is seen in WOW Comics through the way Indigenous Canadians are illustrated as well as the role these characters are assigned. “Jeff Waring” by Murray represents is a comic in this issue that represents this idea where Jeff Waring and his partner stumble onto land populated with an Indigenous community after getting lost on one of his frequent adventures. Despite Jeff and his partner entering Indigenous lands while armed, they are illustrated as victims and the Indigenous characters are illustrated as savages in an animalistic manner.

Example of the depiction of Native characters in WOW Comics. Found in WOW Comics, No. 15, Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Jeff Waring struggles to fight an Indigenous character, who is illustrated looking similar to what can be described a hybrid between a human and an ape. Jeff is subdued by this character, and is illustrated looking meager and helpless. His partner is taken by two Indigenous characters that tower over her, twisting her arm behind her back. The illustrations emphasize the notion that Indigenous Canadians would always be seen as foreign savages and would be considered as enemies. These illustrations made during WWII are accurate representations of how the Indigenous community was being treated at that time, as well as how other Canadians viewed them. The Canadian government operated as a white institution when recruiting soldiers for the army, only enlisting Indigenous Canadians when there were labour shortages (Riseman 905). Despite blatant discrimination while enlisting and fighting the war, Indigenous Canadians fought bravely during WWII. However, they continued to be represented through negative racial stereotypes in the media that contrasted the reality of Canada, as seen by the illustrations in the issue of my comic. Racial stereotypes were demonstrated through the illustrations in the comics of Indigenous Canadians who were portrayed as savages. Minimal thought is given to the understanding that illustrations such as these serve as a reinforcement of racial stereotypes. King argues that creators never “consider the impacts of such images or sought the input or interpretations of indigenous peoples” (215), which proves these illustration only further cement racial ideologies in media such as the savage portrayal of Indigenous Canadians.

Racial Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriations in Illustrations:

Throughout the comics, there are references to different ethnic groups within Canada and around the world. The illustrations depict how Canadians would perceive these ethnic groups to look like and the text bubbles accompanying the illustrations reveal how Canadians think these ethnic groups would speak like. Understanding the importance these illustrations possess is crucial, as the illustrations convey racial perceptions that are understood by the mass population of Canada, which are the intended population for these comics. Race in comics isn’t only understood and conveyed through the colour of a character, but the statements, phrases, body language, and clothing depicted by these ethnic characters. These characteristics shed light on racial stereotypes, and research reinforces the idea that “representations not only motivate individual readers toward prejudice, but affect society as a whole by normalizing racist standards through repetition” (Singer 108). In the comic, “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demon” by E.T Legault, an American soldier Whiz Wallace and his partner Elaine get lost in the dessert and encounter a band of horsemen. Immediately the horsemen capture Whiz and Elaine, and tie up Whiz by all four limbs to prepare to brutally murder him. Not only are the bands of horsemen referred to as “desert savages” and are quoted swearing by Allah, they are illustrated to fit the description with long facial hair and turbans. These illustrations convey an understanding held by the intended audience of the comics, Canadians, of how people from the Middle East would look like. “Whiz Wallace and The Desert Demon” also highlights cultural appropriation as racial stereotype in the comic’s illustration. Whiz’s partner Elaine is seen wearing what appears to be a scarf or turban when she is travelling through the dessert and dealing with the dessert men. However when she is caught by the Germans, Elaine no longer has a scarf on and is back looking like a regular American.

Cultural Appropriation in WOW Comics
Change in Elaine’s head covering, illustrating cultural appropriation. Found in WOW Comics, No. 15, Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Elaine’s wardrobe change is an example of cultural appropriation rather than appreciation, as she wears clothing depending on whomever and wherever she is. Appropriation such as the one in this example are extremely offensive to ethnic groups, as it is seen as mockery towards the customs and culture of such groups. Illustrations are artwork that can be understood as offensive by ethnic groups, while not seen as offensive by the creators, and research demonstrates that “The knowledge that artworks are being produced by means  of  cultural  appropriation  may  be  offensive  even  to  people  who  do  not  experience  the works themselves” (Young 135). Cultural appropriation is offensive and racist, and illustrations such as the ones in this comic depict how Canadians internalize these appropriations as well as racial stereotypes.

In Conclusion:

The illustrations in Wow Comics issue no. 15 emphasize how racial stereotypes were enforced within the comics and understood by Canadians. The company that produced these comics, Bell, were extremely popular with Canadians and represented what it meant to be Canadian, as Library and Archives stresses “Bell’s line of comics was unabashedly Canadian” (Beyond the Funnies). Whether it was a war comic, a detective story or an advertisement selling arts and crafts for children, the content related to material Canadians would be able to relate to and understand. The illustrations convey the misrepresentation of statistics by the government through the lack of diversity present in military roles assigned to characters in the comic. There is also an erasure of certain ethnic groups such as Chinese and Black Canadians in the comics, despite documented assistance provided by Canadians from these ethnic groups in WWII on the home front as well as on the battle ground. The comics also assign ethnic characters the role of protagonists and further this portrayal by drawing them in animalistic and racist manner. The savage Indigenous character is a perception that has been ingrained within Canadian mass media, and continues to perpetrate racist ideologies.  Racist illustrations are conveyed through the way ethnic characters are illustrated and the demeanor through which they carry themselves. Furthermore, characters depict racial appropriation which is extremely offensive but is in line with the lack of representation and diversity within the characters in this comic. It is essential to recognize that the illustrations in these comics are a medium for understanding racial ideas prevalent in Canada during WWII. The illustrations assist in comprehending the contradicting documented realities of ethnic Canadian contributions to how they are represented in mass media. Research conducted in a journal article, “Comics—A Medium for Racism” firmly establishes this idea, noting that “Comics have failed to recognize the multiracial society, let alone join it and they consequently remain a medium for racism and an artifact of cultural imperialism” (Carrington and Geoff 14). The representations conveyed through illustrations such as the ones found in WOW Comics issue no.15 lack diversity and convey clear racial stereotypes which are unfortunately all too common in comics.

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________

Work Cited:

ARCHIVED – History of Comic Books in English Canada – Beyond The Funnies. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/comics/027002-8000-e.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2017.

Carrington, Bruce, and Geoff Short. “Comics—A Medium for Racism.” English in Education, vol. 18, no. 2, 1984, pp. 10–14. Scholars Portal Journals

Erik, Hillis. “WWII: Facts & Information – Canada at War.” Canada at War RSS, 4 July 2009, 20:33, www.canadaatwar.ca/content-7/world-war-ii/facts-and-information/.

Granatsein, Jack L. “Ethnic and Religious Enlistment in Canada During the Second World War.” Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes, vol. 21, 2013, pp. 174-180

Iseke, J. M., & Desmoulins, L. A.. “CRITICAL EVENTS: MÉTIS SERVICEWOMEN’S WWII STORIES WITH DOROTHY CHARTRAND.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol 33, no. 2, 2013, 29-54.

Kelley, Venita. “Negotiating Black Masculinity While Reading Comic Books.” Review of Communication, vol. 3, no. 3, 2003, pp. 192–99.

Patrias, Carmela. “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada, 1939-1945.” Labour / Le Travail, vol. 59, 2007, pp. 9–41.

Peppard, Anna F. “Canada’s Mutant Body: Nationalism and (Super) Multiculturalism in Alpha Flight vs. the X-Men.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, vol. 26, no. 2, May 2015, pp. 311–32.

Singer, Marc. “‘Black Skins’ and White Masks: Comic Books and the Secret of Race: Document View.” African American Review, vol. 36, no. 1, 2002, pp. 107.

Young, James O. “Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 63, no. 2, 2005, pp. 135–46. Scholars Portal Journals

WOW Comics, No. 15, Bell Features Publishing, Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946, RULA Archives & Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

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

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

©Copyright 2017 Tony Carlucci, Ryerson University

 

Comics’ Beginnings:

Not Just a Visual Medium: A Physical One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parts UnKnown: Pulp & Paper, Newsprint and Canadian Invention

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

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

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

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

Experiential Medium – Ian Hague’s Touch

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

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

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

 

What about the digital? Medium specificity

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

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

Conclusive? Physical Mediums and the Messages They Convey

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

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

 


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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