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This is just a test.

Hubert Rogers. Attack on All Fronts.1943.Canadian War Museum Archive. Public Domain

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

“Rosie the Riveter” Poster. J. Howard Miller, 1942.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.


Pickling Love…

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC.

This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Comics Bibliography

Active Comics, no. 4, May 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Active Comics, no. 4, May 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Active Comics, no. 4, May 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Active Comics, no. 4, May 1942. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

Tester Caption

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Automobile Air-Conditioning vs. Open Windows

©Copyright 2017 Deborah Sinclair, Ryerson University


Imagine you are riding in a bus in the middle of summer. It is hot, stuffy, and you are starting to sweat. Would you not wish for the air-conditioning to be turned on? I will be looking at how air-conditioning is represented in the comic “Buz and His Bus” by Harry Brunt from Commando Comics: No. 18 pg 1-3, why it is represented that way, and what that representation does to the readers.

“Bus and His Bus”

The comic starts out with a bus driver named Buz. He is excited about the new air-conditioning that was installed in his bus, and tells his passengers to keep the windows closed. The passengers comply and Buz starts to drive the bus, driving by a sign that says “Stop ‘b.o.’ with pew-boy soap.” (2).  During the ride, one passenger takes out his lunch, which happens to be a garlic. The smell fills the bus and the passengers and Buz express their displeasure towards the odour. The passengers are having trouble breathing, but still, Buz drives on. Just when things could not get any worse, a skunk happens to cross the road at the wrong time. Buz accidentally runs over the skunk with his bus and everything goes wrong. The smell slowly drafts into the bus and mixes with the garlic odour. The passengers are suffocating and Buz no longer cares if the windows are closed or not. They are desperate for fresh air. They punch and kick the windows until they can breathe again. Buz brings the bus to a stop and he and the passengers catch their breaths. One passenger half-jokingly asks Buz his opinion towards the air-conditioning, to which he replies, with a clothespin on his nose, “It stinks!” (5)

While reading this comic, I found it bizarre that they would introduce air-conditioning as this new and improved way to cool down only to put on such an elaborate show of its flaws. New inventions like this are quite helpful, so why would they go to such lengths to prove otherwise? I decided to do a bit of research to find out.

What I Found

It turns out that the answer is quite simple. It takes a lot of power to run an automobile air-conditioning system. In fact, “the overall diesel consumption of the engine will increase by 7%-38% when the vehicle’s A/C is operated” (Farrington, R.; Rugh, J., Impact of Vehicle Air-Conditioning on Fuel Economy, Tailpipe Emissions and Electric Vehicle Range: Preprint.). During WWll supplies such as food, gas, and rubber were precious. Many items were told to be saved in order to help contribute to the war effort. Fuel was one of them. Fuel was needed to help power military machines such as tanks and planes. To make sure there would be enough fuel for the war, fuel had to be preserved, starting with the home front. How was that fuel saved? By not driving unless needed, carpooling, and by, you guessed it, opening the windows instead of using the A/C.

How it relates

Going back to “Bus and His Bus”, it is clear why air-conditioning was shown in a negative way. Even though it was a groundbreaking invention, in vehicles it does use a large portion of the vehicle’s power and fuel to operate. During this time resources were slim and everything needed to be used in moderation. Fuel was needed for military purposes, so the common person had to compromise. How does this comic make its readers not use air-conditioning in their vehicles? By showing it in a negative light.

Figure 1. Brunt, Harry. “Bus and His Bus”, Commando Comics, No 18, p 2, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

The sign on the road, the man with the garlic, the skunk, the excessive use of stink lines (Figure 1); all are tools that are used to create a situation in which the readers can imagine themselves in. Scent is a string sense and many are able to imagine and react to a scent from a description along. By having the garlic and the skunk in the comic, the readers are able to imaging just how terrible that bus smelt. If they were in that situation they would want fresh air too. The comic conditions the readers to associate vehicle air-conditioning with horrible odours, then offers an alternative: open windows. It tells the readers that it is not worth using the air-conditioning in a vehicle if the windows are going to eventually be opened anyways. If they just open the windows they be able to stay cool and breathe at the same time.

In Conclusion

In “Bus and His Bus”, there is a strong emphasis on the shortcomings of air-conditioning. While it does cool you off, it does not allow you to open the windows in case the vehicle you are in starts to smell bad, The comic encourages its readers in a subtle and funny way to open the windows and contribute to the war effort by saving fuel.

Works Cited

Brunt, Harry (w). “Bus and His Bus.” Commando Comics, no. 18, pp. 1-3. Bell Features          Collection, Library and Archives Canada.       

Farrington, R.; Rugh, J. “Impact of Vehicle Air-Conditioning on Fuel Economy, Tailpipe    Emissions and Electric Vehicle Range: Preprint.” National Technical Reports Library,     2000,

Huang, Ying; You, Fengqi; Yue, Chen. “Thermal and economic analysis of an energy system of an ORC coupled with vehicle air conditioning.” International Journal of Refrigeration,          vol. 64, April, 2016, pp. 152-167. ScienceDirect. https://www-sciencedirect-  

Racism, Dehumanization, and Rationing in One Panel

Racism and dehumanization have always been a part of our culture, but in modern times, they have become universally known intolerable forms of hate speech and oppression. Not so during the Second World War. Images of people of colour were not always sensitive, kind, or even accurate. Depictions equating black people to animals, who were of lower intelligence or class were commonplace. As well, the ideas of cannibals and cannibalism are often attributed to people of colour. It not only appears in popular media of the time but in the Canadian Whites, and specifically, WOW Comics #14. The idea of the African cannibal gives less than subtle credence to the idea of seeing black people as animals, which is incredibly offensive. It allows racial hierarchies to be put into place and easily accepted.
These common comic tropes of racism, fear of the other, and cannibalism are seen in this single panel comic, appearing in WOW Comics #14.

The Canadian Whites
Canadian comics were a brand-new industry in the time of the second world war. Previously, comic books had been imported from the United States, and they were full of action heroes, detectives, and super-human men. However, the origin of comics in Canada can be attributed to both need and creativity. The begin of Canadian comics began with political cartoons, from the time of national confederation in the mid-to-late nineteenth century (Gray). This meant that there were lots of talented and clever artists and writers ready to take of the task of writing long-form comics when the Canadian Government passed the War Exchange Conservation Act This meant that there was a vacuum in the market, and publishers such as Toronto’s Bell Features publishing house were quick to fill that void.
Bell Features had originally been called Commercial Signs of Canada. The were the Toronto based publishers who were responsible for producing WOW Comics. The began publishing their comics in 1941 at the height of the war. It continued to publish comics until 1953, leaving a legacy of excellence in Canadian comics. But, what defines excellence truly, to a modern eye? Many of the artists and writers who wrote for Bell Features, as well as other publishing houses went on to have long and prolific careers outside of Canada – some even won awards for their artwork, as well as their contributions to the artform. Yet even this institution wasn’t immune from the pervasive racism of its time.
The primary consumer of the WOW Comics franchise, and other Canadian White comic books were Canadian children. However, many of the comic books ended up overseas as light-hearted, heroic reads for the men fighting in the combat units. Soldiers and children were two of the most important groups to be targeting as they were both the two groups of people most interested in purchasing and reading comics, but also because they were ripe for indoctrination and propaganda.
Many of the comic books, including WOW Comics #14, contained many stereotypes and tropes that are not just highly offensive for the time period, but would not even pass any measure of ethical standards today. Even on the off-chance that an editor let through a negative representation of a particular race or culture, it would be lambasted by the public. This modern ire toward stereotypes can be seen in Ashton Kutcher’s unfavourable performance as a man of South Indian descant in an international commercial for the brand Pop Chips (Elliott). The public used the social media sites Facebook and Twitter in order to let the advertising agency, Kutcher, and the brand he was representing know that it was very offensive. However, in the Second World War, there was no social media, and no public face for the outrage felt by anyone who was affected by stereotypes, emotionally or otherwise. In fact, the public face of people of colour was often the face presented by white illustrators to white audiences – black people would not be asked how they felt about these representations in comic book or other media.

The insignia of the 761st Tank Battalion, a.k.a. The Black Panthers. Worn as a patch on the sleeve of their uniform.


The Role of Black Soldiers in WWII
Black people and those of African descent were not considered to be equal to Caucasians during World War II. It was not as if there were no heroes to be found in the black community, fighting the Nazis. One only needed to look to the American 761st Tank Battalion, under General George Patton. Fighting through the Battle of the Bulge, they were declared to be one of the greatest and most effective tank battalions in all of the Second World War (Heusinkveld). In Canada, there also people of colour serving in the armed forces. Unlike the American soldiers, black men and women were not segregated in their own units, combat or otherwise (although, this as not the case in the First World War). The Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force were not as inclusive as the army, but that did not take away from the brave men of colour serving their country in the European theatre (Veterans Affairs Canada). In the United States, movie-goers could see newsreels of the Black American soldiers and their bravery of deeds on the battlefield. These were shown despite continued segregation throughout most of American, especially in the southern states (Stricklin). However, none of these sacrificial and patriotic acts seemed to change the racist views of black men, as depicted in the single-panel cartoon within WOW Comics #14.

Page 45 of WOW Comics #14

The Problematic Comic and the Imagery of Dehumanization
Within this comic, the single panel cartoon is on page 45. It depicts two African men as monkeys, possibly even as jungle cannibals, and has them saying sexist things to each other- all while trying to make a joke about, what? The war effort to conserve resources? The disposable nature of women? The idiocy and primitive nature of people of colour? All of these seem to be up for debate, and it behooves the consumer to look closer into the time period in which this comic was released, in order to get a glimpse at what the readers might be thinking. This single-panel comic is black and white only, with no coloured ink used inside, like most all of the other Canadian White comic books. There is a border round the entire comic, which eliminates the bleed of the picture of text to the edges of the page. While there is text, there is no narration box. The words simply hang below the picture, but above the edge of the bottom border. However, we understand this to the be one character speaking to another, and not just a descriptive caption for the picture. The artist has drawn a long shot of two figures, sitting at a table amongst the palm tree, speaking to one another. Yet, the most distinctive thing about the comic are the figures, and the visual metaphors they represent- black men, African men, are portrayed as monkeys. They have the ability to speak, participate in the war effort to conserve resources, and pass judgement on the value of women- yet they are depicted as apes. It is clearly a caricature, along with a message that during war, conservation is necessary- look! Even the apes of Africa are conserving their resources, even if they’re going about it in a misogynistic way. But, the message it sends in a negative and racist one.
These ideas of black men as apes and women as disposable and interchangeable were being passed to those who read the Canadian Whites and WOW Comics. It allowed for a miasma of other-ness and dehumanization to pervade the psyche through the humour of the comic, letting racist ideals become more normalized to the readers. This readership was made up of mostly children, but also the soldiers overseas who were fighting the enemy. Very often, those who were the most dehumanized were men of those cultures and countries who made up the Axis of Power – those who sided with Germany in the Second World War. But, we see here not depictions of enemies, but two figures to seem to be aware of the war, and affected by the way, but who are not participating in any active role.
The imagery of the black man as a monkey goes back hundreds of years, throughout literature. Before Darwin’s Origin of the Species, it was theorized that black women and men were closer to being apes or monkeys than white women and men. In fact, it was widely believed that there was a hierarchy in nature, and that white women and men were above black women and men, and below them were primates. As well, black people were often characterized as monkeys as a way to justify their being used as slaves and forced, hard labour in the American colonies, and later, in the states. (Blakewell). With Darwin’s publication of his evolutionary opus, it didn’t do much to dissuade bigots that black people were just as human as whites. With Darwin’s hypothesis that human beings derived and evolved from apes, the idea was that we must have come from Africa, where there are more monkeys and apes than everywhere else- therefore, the people who are still in Africa, black people and people of colour, must be more closely aligned with these human ancestors. Black people must be more monkey than white people (Alese). All of this is erroneous and incredibly offensive.
These dehumanizing and visceral images play on a number of different themes, including that of danger. And, it has been proven through sociological studies that the portrayal of black people as monkeys has a serious impact on the way that non-black people think about African and Canadian Americans (Staples). The main takeaway is that white people see black people as less human, less intelligent, and less deserving of the same rights and freedoms when black people are continuously pictured as sub-human primates.
In the comic, we also see the one of two figures wearing a bone through their hair, a la Pebbles Flinstone. This imagery alludes to the idea of jungle cannibalism and ferocious, dangerous jungle tribes. As recently discovered in India (Bengali), many people all over the world still believe, to this day, that people from Africa are cannibals. The drawing depicting the figure on the left wearing a bone in their hair does nothing to dispel this myth, not to the readers of WOW Comics seventy years ago, nor to the recreational reader today. Also called anthropophagy, cannibalism has been found in most cultures, on all continents. It does not have a specific African connection. Yet, people, colonizers specifically use the fear of cannibalism to once more dehumanize and alienate people of colour (Rice).

Rationing in Canada
While this single-panel comic is completely inexcusable, there is something to be said for making light of a terrible situation like war and rationing. Is this the right way to go about it? Absolutely not. But, as we can hear from this 1942 CBC Radio spot about rationing, it was a hard road as the government rationed more and more of the best things in life, like butter, coffee, sugar, and tea. Maybe, by laughing at the idea that these figures needed to ration the women of their community, the same way that one’s mother needed to ration butter, it took the anxiety and the pinch out of wartime for just a moment.


While this single-panel comic in WOW Comics #14 is shocking and startling today, in the past, it was a commonplace trope to make fun of those who did not have as much power or status in society. The imagery of black people as monkeys, and using cannibalism to dehumanize them even further, is something that the modern era does not see very often. Yet, it is not so far removed from our history that we do not need to be vigilant and keep the Canadian comic book industry accountable for the myths they perpetuated.




  • Hund, Wulf D., and Charles W Mills. “Comparing Black People to Monkeys Has a Long, Dark Simian History.” The Conversation, The Conversation, 20 Sept. 2018
  • Edwardson, Ryan. “The Many Lives of Captain Canuck: Nationalism, Culture, and the Creation of a Canadian Comic Book Superhero.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 37, no. 2, 2003
  • Gray, B. C. Border studies in the gutter: Canadian comics and structural borders. Canadian Literature, (228), 170-187, 268, 2016
  • Gaze, Rupert. “Uncovering the Hidden Histories: Black and Asian People in the Two World Wars.” Teaching History, no. 120, 2005, pp. 46-51.
  • Heusinkveld, Hank. “The 761st Tank Battalion: Fighting the Enemy, Beating Stereotypes.” Army Values, The United States Army
  • Veterans Affairs Canada. “History.” Health and Well Being – Services – Veterans Affairs Canada, 24 Mar. 2017
  • Stricklin, Krystle. Propaganda Portraits and the Easing of American Anxieties through WRA Films, The Florida State University, Ann Arbor, 2014.
  • Alese, Whitney. “Here’s Why White People Should Not Call Black People “Apes””. Medium, 2018
  • Bengali, Shashank. “Cannibalism, Prostitution And Other Racist Myths That Confront Africans Studying In India”. Latimes.Com, Los Angeles Times, 2018
  • Blakemore, E. Early America’s Troubled Relationship with Monkeys | JSTOR Daily. JSTOR, 2018
  • Rice, Alan. “”Who’s Eating Whom”: The Discourse Of Cannibalism In The Literature Of The Black Atlantic From Equiano’s “Travels” To Toni Morrison’s “Beloved””. Research In African Literatures, vol 29, no. 4, p. 105. 1998
  • Staples, Brent. “Opinion | The Racist Trope That Won’t Die”. Nytimes.Com, New York Times, 2018
  • Elliott, Stuart. “Popchips Pulls Ashton Kutcher Ad Over Charges of Racism.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 May 2012.
  • Pepper, Laura. “Food Facts And Food Fashions”. CBC Radio, January 1st, 1943.

Active Comics Collective Tactic of Warning Children

     Propaganda regarding foreign powers and its assumptions with stereotypical criminal behaviours is a result of prejudice. This paper will discuss the eighth issue of Active Comics (1942), focusing on illegal drugs in conjunction with propaganda in Canada during World War II. In Active Comics No. 8, the stories have caricatures of stereotypical Indigenous and Japanese people, in relation to drugs and other criminal behaviours. The racist undertones in comics during World War II regarding cultures untypical to  “white-European” Canadians and involving the issue of drugs (specifically cannabis and opium) should be addressed.

     The first story in the issue, “The Dixon of the Mounted,” is about a criminal investigation surrounding the illegal distribution and abuse of cannabis. As well, “Captain Red Thornton,” features Japanese caricatures in association with other forms of crime. In addition to the topic of crime, on page 16, there is a “funny page” glorifying a criminal activity. To contrast, the regular displays of prejudice, one of the stories, “ The Misadventures of Mild Will,” is the opposite of the other stereotypical stories. The story has Indigenous caricatures that could be deemed rational, are not inflicting violence, and are victims of senseless violence. The placement of this comic is used for ironic comedy. This comedy uses the opposite of what is stereotypically done in order to create humor.  

     In Active Comics No. 8, possessing illegal drugs and criminal activities, such as murder and arson, is in clear affiliation with figures of Japanese and Indigenous backgrounds. This reveals the writer’s intentions of propaganda and wartime subliminal messages. The purposeful connections insinuate that the reason for criminal activity is the characters being from foreign powers, giving the readers a preconceived political wartime stance. The objective of this research paper is to determine why these propagandistic messages were placed in children’s comics during World War II. Ultimately, the the writers’ tactics enforce the idea that drugs and foreigners were bad in a collective manner.                     

The Association of Drugs to Certain People

     “Dixon of the Mounted” by Ted Steel, reveals the highest level of stereotyping and criminalizing “foreign” peoples. In this comic, the Dixon travels to a lifeless and grim snowy landscape to find an Indigenous criminal. The illustrated Indigenous caricature that wears exaggerated traditional native clothing is being sought out because he smokes and sells marijuana – “marihuana” as its called in the story. The aboriginal man also commits other crimes due to the consumption of the drug, such as setting the cabin on fire in hopes of murdering the Dixon before being caught. Henceforth, visualization of the correspondence of marijuana with a man of a foreign background was displayed to children. The story, “Dixon of the Mounted,” are collectively meant to scare children into not smoking marijuana, due to the irrational and criminal behaviour it creates. Additionally, the comic persuades the reader to believe that Indigenous people are the influencers and the primary sources of this substance abuse.

The Stance of Canada with Native and Japanese Citizens

     Japanese and Aboriginal cultures faced much oppression during their years in Canada following World War II. Japanese immigration was brought into Canada for cheap labour, which caused opium distribution to arise as a societal issue (Boyd 26). The belief that Japanese people are the reason for drug distribution could be routed to the historical event of The Opium war between China and the British Empire (839 – 1860.) Therefore, the assumption that opium is connected to Japanese people will be derived from this historical event. Also, Canada in the 19th (and continuing shortly into the 20th century) is known to have made a negative impact on  Indigenous people due to the conditions and difficult circumstances they were put through. More specifically, during the years before World War II (roughly 1934-1943), Indigenous people in Canada were put under much supervision and isolation. This can be noted from viewing a 1936 news article titled “Canada’s Indians. The article title itself reveals the possessive approach that Canada’s government took towards Indigenous cultures; they were under “general supervision,” were “minors under the law,” and additionally, a government department called Department of Indian Affairs existed (48). Found in the National Museum of Canada, the archival book Canada’s Indian Problem, by Janness Diamond, states that “. . . to encourage any merging of the protected races with their protectors, because white people, particularly those of Anglo-Saxon . . . have strong prejudices against intermarriage with coloured peoples. (Japan, we may notice in passing, likewise discourages the intermarriage of her nationals with the Ainu)” (Diamond 379). When Active Comics No. 8 displays these cultures in a manipulative way, it caused these prejudices to influence the reader and allow the future generation of adults to have the same destructive beliefs.

Opinions with Drugs in Combination with Crime

     The legalization of marijuana in Canada took years of persuasion and debates. It has come to reality with multiple precautions and procedures in 2018. Opinions and debates dated back to the early 19th century reveal Canada’s foundation of formulating the new legalization. From this, misconceptions of drug association may arise due to miscommunication brought from fear of an unknown substance; much like the fear of unknown and foreign cultures to Canada.

     One misconception in Active Comics No. 8  is that criminal behaviour arises from smoking marijuana. Nonetheless, that belief has been statistically proven to be false in the sociological article Cannabis and Crime: Findings From a Longitudinal Study by Willy Pedersen. He proves that the use of cannabis does not lead to any continued action of criminal behaviour. Conversely, the use of cannabis-related crimes is highly apparent (Pedersen 116). It is also apparent that there is not much research surrounding the use of cannabis and non-cannabis related crimes. This implies that avoiding this research was done purposely so that it is automatically assumed that smoking marijuana was the leading cause of all crimes and not just marijuana-related offenses. The collection of the comics, also known as The Canadian Whites, represented the effects of marijuana as the causes of the comic book characters criminal commitments. To feature this, falsehoods and false evidence are presented multiple times through; action-packed, war hero and comedic stories. Active Comics has done this to display to a young audience that drugs, crime, and foreign powers, collectively and separately, are things to be afraid of. A newspaper article, “Dope Stimulation and Hot Jazz,written in 1943 by J.V McAree, said that “Crooks of various kinds are fond of [marijuana]” (McAree 8).  Also, the 1948 National Film Board documentary Drug Addict follows an inmate in jail who becomes interested in drugs. These past World War II mediums purposely highlighted criminals with marijuana and always correlate them with each other. In order for the Canadian Whites to display this as well, it is evident that extreme literary misrepresentations have to be used to stronger convey the same message.

The Reason for the Correlation

Fig. 1. Cartoon Drawing, Japanese Gentlemen Hullee Home Pleez! Canadians Here!!! 20000034-018. 1939-1945 Canadian War Museum.

     Figure 1 displays two Japanese men running from Canadians. The description to the image is: “This is a poster we had when entertaining some Canadian boys. Maple leaf is a little bit of ‘home’ you kindly sent me” (Canadian War Museum).  

    The description reveals how a source of entertainment for “Canadian boys” was another representation of Japanese caricatures being stereotypically manipulated. Figure 1 is also manipulated to sound like a Japanese accent, which further adds to the racism. The same racist illustration is also visible in the story “The Misadventures of Mild Will.” The comic manipulates the dialogue to make the caricatures emphasize their accents which insinuate their lack of intelligence. An example of the same verbiage in the comic is, “[w]hat’sa idear, buttin’in? Ah’, supposed to be the hero in this hyar comic strip!” (Steel 31). Along with in “Captain Red Thorton,” by Al Cooper, the Japanese enemies are illustrated much like in the war artifact; they both have farfetched stereotypical features (Cooper 49). The illustrations and verbiage are placed to create humor for the intended audience.

Humour is displayed in false, fabricated cliches of foreign characters

     In the war adventure story,  “Captain Red Thorton,” the “predators”, or antagonists, are Japanese characters against  ”white-European” characters. An interesting illustration from this story on the front cover of the comic is a close-up shot of a Japanese “predator.” The Japanese caricatures expression is angry; which is evident from the exaggerated lines along his face to make him seem more aggressive.

     The article “This is Our Enemy” by Paul Hirsch focuses on the comic titled All Star Comics. Hirsch talks about how the demographic and perception of the comics were race-themed mediums that were cheap sources of entertainment. Also, the article goes into detail about how choosing the medium as a source of portraying propaganda stereotypes is a universal and complex method. All Stars Comics is American, and the article was published in California. By looking at this American artifact in comparison to the Canadian comic, it is interesting to note the similarities between them. They both portray representations of the race to persuade a person to think intended messages of government manipulated messages. The reasons for North American tactics in communicating propaganda messages to children are apparent. Adults during this period would most likely be aware of the political news happening around the world and the implications of this to their home country. Children, on the other hand, would not know as much. By hinting at these political views from the country they currently reside in, they can educate the children on what to believe through comics (although it may be factual or not).

Children’s Media as a way of Communicating Propaganda

Fig. 2. Dave Fleischer (d). Max Fleischer (p). With Cab Calloway. Minnie the Moocher, 1932,Talkartoons.

     The 1940s messages of propaganda are displayed in many multimedia forms. The article “Anglo-American Anti-fascist Film Propaganda in a Time of Neutrality” explains Charlie Chaplin’s film, The Great Dictator, to be an example of a manipulation of media to display wartime messages. The article also goes into to detail about what makes a propaganda film (“predator vs. prey,” “hero vs. villain”) create “mass persuasion” (Cole).

     Messages of drug use are also apparent in children’s motion pictures. In Max Fleischer’s, Minnie the Moocher, the animated characters undergo a chaotic-dreamlike scenario in which inanimate objects come to life and appear as a sort of hallucination. That movie experience creates a correlation with the sensation one may get from being under the influence drugs (fig. 2).

     After studying both of these motion pictures, one can understand why Active Comics would use a children’s medium to incorporate drugs and wartime messages as a tactic. Although this comic was on a smaller scale of popularity then these Hollywood entertainments, it still portrays the exact techniques to emphasize the message trying to be installed into youth’s minds. Minnie the Moocher displays Hollywood’s creation of the fascination of substance use in a way that is appealing to children (by using cartoons, comedy, and catchy music). The same question of why Max Fleischer decided to create Minnie the Moocher is similar to the question of why The Canadian Whites created certain stories in Active Comics. Both children targeting mediums display content that seems to be confidential to children, giving much insight into the creator’s intentions of the audience.

        The government’s way of trying to communicate with the youth of WWII is proven to be useful in current studies. This is because using comic books helps children explore their creativity, be entranced in the comic book character’s adventures, and stimulate visual senses according to the article, “The Native Comic Book Project: Native Youth Making Comics and Healthy Decisions. This article discusses the positive impact that comic books have on Indigenous children who may suffer consequences of substance abuse or other mentally harming encounters.

Manipulation of Children for Wartime Efforts

     After examining all of Active Comics No. 8 and cross-referencing adult mediums of WWII (newspapers, films, articles) to the content found in the comic, Canadian government intentions become clear. By collectively showing drugs, negative displays of foreign figures and actions of hate in crime fighting and adventure stores, a child may be manipulated to believe that all of these fabrications are believable. From this, that child may now be more heavily interested and inclined to participate in wartime activities, whether it be by becoming physically involved in the war or sharing the message that war is good. Youth become more involved and informed stance in political behaviours. Active Comics displayed content to children that were intended to create humor and action while simultaneously warning them of crimes by manipulating Canada’s oppressed races, and ergo, creating both motive and bias in children’s effort in the war.


Works Cited

Boyd, Neil. “Anti- Asiatic riots led to Canada’s first anti-drug laws in 1908.” Canadian           Speeches, July 2001, p. 26. Academic OneFile , xid=5dd3c4e6

Cartoon Drawing, Japanese Gentlemen  Hullee Home Pleez! Canadians Here!!! Canadian    War Museum, 1939-1945. drawing&page_num=1&item_num=17&media_irn=3141295.

Cole, Robert. “Anglo-American Anti-Fascist Film Propaganda in a Time of Neutrality: The Great Dictator, 1940.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 21, no. 2, June 2001, pp.  137–52. 51488 .

Fleischer, Max, and Willard Bowsky. “Minnie the Moocher.Youtube, Talkertoons, 11 Mar 1932,

Hirsch, Paul. “‘This Is Our Enemy’: The Writers 2019; War Board and Representations of Race in Comic Books, 1945.” Pacific Historical Review 83, no. 3, 2014, pp.  448–86.

Malleck, Dan. When Good Drugs Go Bad: Opium, Medicine, and the Origins of Canada’s Drug Laws. Vancouver, CANADA: UBC Press, 2015.

Legault, E.T. (w) and M. Karn (a). “Dixon of the Mountain.” Active Comics , no. 8, March 1942, pp. 1-9. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Legault, E.T. (w) and M. Karn (a). “The Misadventures of Mild Will.” Active Comics , no. 8, March, 1942, pp. 1-9. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Montgomery, Michelle, Brenda Manuelito, Carrie Nass, Tami Chock, and Dedra Buchwald. “The Native Comic Book Project: Native Youth Making Comics and Health Decisions.” Journal of Cancer Education 27,  2012, pp. 41–46. .

Pedersen, Willy, and Torbjà ̧rn Skardhamar. “Cannabis and Crime: Findings from a LongitudinalStudy: Cannabis and Crime.” Addiction 105, 2010 pp. 109–18. .

Writer, Linton Burkett Post Staff. “Marihuana Dangerous, Agents Say: Drug Loses Urge                 Leading to Crime; Results Worse Than Opium Derivatives.” The Washington Post (1923-1954); Washington, D.C. July 13, 1943.





Canadian Nationalism and Indigenous representation in “Dixon of the Mounted”

Comic books are often considered to be monopolized by America. Canada’s relatively unsung comic history creates an interesting space to investigate the cultural and social narratives that were relevant to the era. Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited began printing comic books in 1941 as a result of the War Exchange Conservations Act, which “restrict[ed] the importation of non-essential goods” (such as comic books) (Canadian Golden Age of Comics).  This essay will analyze the “Dixon of the Mounted” stories in the sixth and eighth issues of Active Comics (1942). Throughout the comics, there are stark instances of racism, prejudice, and misrepresentation as well as complete lack of representation or acknowledgment of Indigenous culture. To refer to this lack of representation I will use the term “erasure”, or more specifically, Indigenous or cultural erasure. Through the examination of the comic’s appropriation, misrepresentation, and erasure of Indigenous culture, this essay intends to investigate the effects that these portrayals may have on the sociopolitical position of Indigenous people and culture.

Nationalism and “Dixon of the Mounted”

“Dixon of the Mounted” is a white male who is employed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and is stationed in the Hudson’s Bay area (Steele 5-6). In other words, he is portrayed as what would have been seen as the “ideal Canadian” male in the 1940’s (Beaty 434). In the sixth issue of the comic, he is chasing down three German Nazis. Dixon exhibits expert skills in canoeing, tracking and overall knowledge of wilderness, particularly in contrast to the Germans. It is important to note that Dixon is portrayed as exceedingly proficient in activities which are generally viewed as having a strong association to Canadian identity and moreover, that these activities historically originated from Indigenous culture and were taught to European settlers by Indigenous communities. Furthermore, it is also noted that there is no representation or acknowledgment of Indigenous people throughout the entire sixth issue. Subsequently, the portrayal of Indigenous people in Issue eight is criminalizing and demeaning, dealing with drug use; murder; and the inability of the Chief to maintain a safe and functioning community without the help of Dixon. This representation plays into harmful stereotypes, ultimately perpetuating an already disgraceful treatment of Indigenous people by European colonizers.

It is equally essential to observe the strongly nationalistic tone that is displayed throughout the Dixon comics. Canadian nationalist ideals represented throughout the comic include the glorified ability to navigate the wilderness and the portrayal that colonization is for the betterment of Canada (i.e. portrayal that Indigenous communities cannot function without assistance). As Beaty recognizes, there are often nationalist narratives in comics, and that this effectively “reduces Canada’s multicultural heritage and champions the . . . face of a heterosexual, middle-class, white, male government employee as the ultimate desire of the populace” (Beaty 434). Dixon is represented in the comics as the Canadian ideal, which disregards the history of Indigenous and European interaction and exchange, omitting the cultural and historical significance of these Canadian ideals. As will be considered further throughout this paper, the ideals by which Dixon is represented are rooted in Indigenous culture, which is problematic due to the misrepresentation and erasure throughout the comic.            

Indigenous Erasure

Residential schools and “the 60’s scoop” are two examples of Canada’s extremely blatant attempts to completely eradicate Indigenous culture. The complete lack of Indigenous representation within the “Dixon of the Mounted” story in issue six is a much smaller, nonetheless still harmful, example of erasure. Cultural erasure is damaging because it discredits and disregards communities which are already marginalized, and works in favour of the dominant group. Such a dynamic distorts the history and representation of said marginalized culture, resulting in mistreatment of minority groups. It can be difficult to identify something that is not present in a piece of visual culture such as a comic book, but it is essential to consider the aspects of a narrative which are omitted and the effects this may have. Throughout the sixth issue, there is a noticeable lack of representation of Indigenous characters, this is representative of the attitude held towards Indigenous people at the time these comics were published.     

In order to obtain a more broad understanding, it is beneficial to focus on other instances of cultural erasure in popular Canadian art. Considerable Indigenous erasure is shown (or not shown) throughout many landscape paintings done by the famous Group of Seven (Jessup 146). Paintings done by the Group of Seven most often depict untouched Canadian wilderness and landscapes, giving the impression that there was no culture or community there, to begin with. This creates the perception that the Canadian wilderness is pristine and untouched, which in turn allows for European settlers to claim ownership of land which is, in actuality, stolen. Canada’s reputation as a white settler nation allows for the continuation of inequitable representation within institutions as well as the ongoing mistreatment of Indigenous communities by said institutions (Waldron). Jessup argues that the omission of Indigenous communities within these popular paintings proliferated the romanticization of pristine wilderness in Canada and eventually led to the relocation of Indigenous communities in order to portray untouched environments throughout Canadian National Parks for the enjoyment of tourists (Jessup 146-147). As discussed previously and will be discussed further, displacement is only one example of the consequences which have been the historical norm for Canada’s Indigenous people. Cultural erasure holds effects far beyond that of underrepresentation, it creates space for social and political mistreatment, as well as opportunity to misrepresent marginalized communities.


“Black Tom”, Pg. 6-7. 1942. Active Comics No. 8.

The negative representation of Indigenous characters in the Dixon story that is featured in the eighth issue is perpetuating the perception that Indigenous people are unable to sustain a functioning community without the assistance of white men (Steele 4). In a paper discussing comic book portrayals of Indigenous communities (specifically “Nelvana of the North”), Arnold argues that negatively representing and “dehumanizing” Indigenous people allows for them to be mistreated, and furthermore for their voices to be ignored and/or appropriated in regards to the formation of policies affecting the Canadian North (104-105). When a culture is portrayed as subordinate and problematic, it is more likely that their mistreatment will go unquestioned. Furthermore, this gives the impression that their voices and knowledge are less valuable than that of the oppressor, causing their input to be overlooked, undermined, or even stolen by others claiming it as their own. Canadian history illustrates this unfortunate reality through injustices such as the “60’s scoop” and over one hundred years of residential schools. There has been ongoing unjust treatment of Indigenous communities in the seventy-six years since the “Dixon of the Mounted” comics were published. These injustices exemplify the importance of education and representation regarding cultural diversity and acceptance, which were clearly lacking in the 1940s. Furthermore, it demonstrates the importance of working towards equal representation within Canadian institutions in order to create equal opportunity.            


“When it Comes to Getting Speed Out of a Canoe…” Pg. 4-5. 1942. Active Comics No. 6.

Dixon is portrayed as having exceptional canoeing skills throughout the story featured in issue six. As he chases down the three Germans in a canoe, Dixon says that the Germans “may know how to handle a gun, but when it comes to getting speed out of a canoe…”, at this moment the Germans begin shooting at Dixon and their canoe tips over, leaving them to swim to the riverbank (Steele 5-6). At first glance, this seems harmless enough as canoeing is a very well known Canadian activity, it makes sense that Dixon would be proficient. However, there is absolutely no mention of Indigenous culture throughout the comic or recognition that the canoe holds roots in Indigenous history (Benidickson). This lack of acknowledgment ignores the history of the canoe and is a subtle but relevant form of cultural appropriation exhibited throughout the comic. Liz Newberry notes that “the canoe often calls up a version of Canada that predominantly reflects the desires of a dominant, settler/invader society and thus calls up a Canada that may exclude Indigenous and broader immigrant communities and histories” (134). Here, it is recognized that there is a strong correlation to colonialism, appropriation, exclusion, and erasure when it comes to the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous people and European settler/invaders. It is problematic that Canadian nationalism has adopted so many Indigenous values and activities as main stakeholders of an identity that is seen as Eurocentric because the appropriation and subsequent erasure of Indigenous roots play a lead role in the subordination of Indigenous communities within Canada.

Sociopolitical Consequences

This essay has focused on the erasure, appropriation, and misrepresentation of Indigenous culture in Canada and their role in the development of Canadian nationalist ideals. In order to grasp the seriousness of these actions, it is helpful to recognize the historical consequences. In a 1997 documentary entitled Forgotten Warriors, Indigenous veterans of WWII speak out about the treatment they faced after returning home from the war. Thousands of Indigenous people who served had voluntarily enlisted. One veteran named Al Thomas states: “When I came back from the war, they wouldn’t let us go curling, they wouldn’t let us go golfing . . . and when you went to the show, the Indians used to have to sit on one side of the picture show” (Forgotten Warriors 00:31:58).  These veterans voluntarily went overseas to serve their duty to a country that undervalued and disrespected them, returning home to face racism, prejudice and segregation. Based on the previous analysis of the Canadian portrayal of Indigenous people, it is clear that these depictions were not harmless.

Consequences were not only social but political, Indigenous communities were taken advantage of by the Canadian government. For example, in 1945, “the entire Montney reserve was taken through the soldier settlement act and sold to non-native war veterans”, the land that was taken was over eighteen thousand acres says Chief Gerry Attachie (Forgotten Warriors 00:27:11). Attachie states that they had been living there for five-to-six-hundred years previously. This corruption intensified when oil pools were found on the land, yielding five-hundred-million in royalties (Forgotten Warriors 00:27:43). After twenty years, a settlement was finally reached, the Blueberry river and Doig bands were compensated one-hundred-and-forty-seven-million dollars (Brunet). The settlement was a substantial amount, but nowhere near the actual value of the lost land. Instances such as Montney demonstrate the lack of regard for Indigenous communities that was held by Canadian government institutions. Bernelda Wheeler points out “the irony of Aboriginal soldiers fighting a war against the oppression of fascism, giving their lives for that, and coming home to face oppressive fascism” (Forgotten Warriors 00:31:38). This documentary illustrates the extent of the mistreatment and injustice that Indigenous people have faced throughout Canadian history, these injustices are only perpetuated by harmful misrepresentations, appropriation, and cultural erasure.


In conclusion, the sixth and eighth issues of Active Comics and specifically, the story of “Dixon of the Mounted” exhibit largely problematic narratives of the relationship and perception of Indigenous communities and European settlers in the 1940s. Through the examination of Canadian popular culture, the exclusion, erasure, appropriation, and misrepresentation of Indigenous culture stands out. It becomes clear that there are ongoing issues of unequal power dynamics and underrepresentation of Indigenous communities within Canadian institutions. Realizing the ongoing injustices towards Indigenous communities within Canada, this essay recognizes the role that representation in popular culture plays in the treatment and acceptance of Indigenous people. An equitable relationship between Canada and it’s Indigenous communities will be achieved through greater representation of Indigenous people in media as well as within decision making roles, and creating equal opportunities for all Canadians, thereby creating a level power dynamic.


Works Cited

Arnold, Samantha. “Nelvana of the North, Traditional Knowledge, and the Northern Dimension of Canadian Foreign Policy.” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, Taylor & Francis Group, Jan. 2008, pp. 95–107. doi:10.1080/11926422.2008.9673465.

Beaty, Bart. “The Fighting Civil Servant: Making Sense of the Canadian Superhero.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 36, no. 3, Taylor & Francis Group, Oct. 2006, pp. 427–39. doi:10.1080/02722010609481401.

Benidickson, Jamie. “Canoeing”. The Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford University Press, 2004.,

Brunet, Robin. “Be Careful What You Wish for: Two Northern Indian Bands Are Awarded $147m in Mineral Claims [Doig River & Blueberry River Indian Bands].” British Columbia Report; Vancouver, vol. 9, no. 30, Mar. 1998, p. 28.

Canadian Golden Age of Comics, 1941-1946 – Comic Books in English Canada Beyond The Funnies.

Jessup, Lynda. “The Group of Seven and the Tourist Landscape in Western Canada, or the More Things Change…” Journal of Canadian Studies; Toronto, vol. 37, no. 1, Trent University, Spring 2002, pp. 144–79. doi: 10.3138/jcs.37.1.144

Newbery, Liz. “Paddling the Nation: Canadian Becoming and Becoming Canadian in and through the Canoe.” TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 29, no. 29, Topia, 2013, pp. 133–62. doi:10.3138/topia.29.133.

Steele, T.A. “Dixon of the Mounted”. Active Comics, no.6, Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, July 1942, pp. 1-10. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Steele, T.A. “Dixon of the Mounted”. Active Comics, no.8, Bell Features and Publishing Company Limited, September 1942, pp. 1-9. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Todd, Loretta, director. Forgotten Warriors., National Film Board of Canada, 1997,

Waldron, Ingrid. There is Something in the Water, Fernwood Publishing, 2018. pp. 37-52. 


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 educatio

Commando Comic No.13: Representation of Women and Japanese as supporting characters.

@ Copyright 2017 Puebla Ponciano, Alicia, Ryerson University


In this exhibit I will examine the representation of women and Japanese figures separately through several of the stories in the entire thirteenth issue of Commando Comics (1942). The last story in the issue, “Invisible Commando,” has the only woman to take action and fight throughout the comic but was still only as an helper to the men. I will compare the representation of women through the story to the way women were treated within society at the same time to see what societal stereotypes there were for women and why they were used in the comic and what they were used to do.  I also relate this to the racist representation of the Japanese in the first story of the issue “Clift Steele” and compare the minorities in the comics to the way they were perceived in society. Studying these two portrayals of women and Japanese figures in reality in the 1940’s, will give insight to why the comics depicted them in ways that made them secondary to a white male hero. While going through the comic and studying the way these two figures are represented it rises the question of why the illustrators depict these groups in ways that suppress them. By targeting the white male demographic authors were able to market to the patriarchical ideology of society and capitalize on fear and machoism to encourage the white male to join the war and buy comics. They used women as tools that could support them and make it possible to leave the home front and manipulated the fear of the Japanese to create a hatred and encourage them to fight in the front lines. 

How women were depicted.

In the storyline for  “Invisible Commando” there is an interesting portrayal of women as the

L, Bachle. from “The Invisible Commando ”Commando Comics, No. 13, 1944, p. 45. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada

only woman featured within the story was a woman who helped the Invisible Commando as she was able to throw a knife across a yard and hit the evil Japanese scientist. This is the only storyline to have a female actually make any productive actions or given any sort of power. By studying this storyline I have noticed that the women representation was powerful and great since she stopped the man trying to take the knowledge of what makes the invisible man invisible but overall she did not save the story, she did not save the day but rather was a helper for the Invisible Commando being able to save the day. She did not save the story but rather enabled the hero so he could save the day which shows the ideology about women being inferior that the illustrator is trying to represent. The portrayal of women in the comic showed that women mattered but not as much as men did.


Women on the home front.

By doing some more research I found that women on the home front where being used in a similar manner to the woman in the Invisible Commando story. Many women during the second world war were asked to leave their duties as a house wife and rather work on the home front making ammunition or taking the jobs that they could that would allow the men to leave their stations and join the fighting front in Europe. Once the war was close to an ending the government began to have a problem as women did better than expected on the field (Globe and Mail 1942) and many of them did not want to go back to work, as 91% of women were open to find employment after the war  (Stephen, 129). They were given the opportunity for more freedom and independence in the work field and many women did not want to give it up. This is relevant because the government had planned to put men back to work once they returned from the war. This shows the value of women in the eyes of the government and how they were expected to be accessories that could be used while the men where out in the field and placed back home once the war finished.

Hubert Rogers. Attack on All Fronts.1943.Canadian War Museum Archive. Public Domain

By analyzing propaganda distributed at the time audiences can see how women were portrayed as important enough to be valued but not as important as the male. Men were the protectors and women needed protecting but while they were away women were left to do the work on the home front in a time where there was no other option. This poster that encourages women to join the fight on the home front while visually suppressing them to the bottom of the ranks. This portrays the ideology that society had about women at the time and proves that they were looked at as secondary to men despite their efforts to contribute to the war.

Overall by analyzing the social stance of women at the time of the publication of the comic I have noticed that the characters are representations of the reality of women at the time. The creators where trying to replicate the way women were expected to be in a white mans ideology. At the time the government was not done trying to recruit for the war. This acts as a subtle hint to the white man demographic that was needed to convince the men that the women would be there to support them while they were needed to stop the real enemy, similar to the comic where the female was strong enough to help out but only as a supporting role.

The depiction of Japanese characters in the comic.

By studying the first story of the issue called “Clift Steele”, where the Japanese enemies

J, Darian. from “Clift Steele ”Commando Comics, No. 13, 1944, p. 5. two panels. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada

were characterized in a racist manner and the “heroes” of the story used derogatory terms towards them. I noticed that although it made sense to create a negative connotation around the enemy the creators instead used the physical attributes of the Japanese to degrade which acts as an insult to not only the Japanese axis that the allies were actually fighting but to the Japanese -Canadians who where not involved in the war at all. In the comic the “heroes”  regard the Japanese as the “Yellow Boys” and “Nips” and this creates a physical mockery of the characters. I believe these were used in order to create a hatred of Japanese people in the mind of the readers . The illustrators also depict the Japanese characters in a manner that is negative as they have more curved spines and walk with a hunch that makes them look smaller and like less than the heroes to creates an image of an enemy.


Japanese-Canadians on the home front.

Upon more research into the reality of the Japanese Canadians there has been records of Japanese Canadians being forced to live in internment camps so they could not pose a threat to Canadians within Canada. Many and most of these people were Canadian citizens and many had never even been to Japan (McAllister, 137). The conditions in the internment camps were terrible and they were treated as less than human(McAllister, 143) as they were expected to leave behind their whole life because they were a threat based on their physical attributes. The government claimed that it was an act to keep the people safe but there is a possibility that it was because they wanted to maintain the idea of us versus them in order to encourage the radicalness that would get more people to join the war, if Japanese Canadians were joining the war the white male dominated community would act out of fear and hatred because of who they are supposed to be fighting and end up hurting or killing their own neighbours. At the time the white male liked fighting in one unit that all looked the same because they believed that they could trust each other so in order to keep this unity the government segregated the Japanese Canadians and claimed it was for protection.

Overall the Japanese -Canadians were depicted in a manner that created a negative connotation around their physical attributes which created a fear and hatred towards all being who shared those attributes. In order to create unity within the nation the government pushed out all those who could be seen as the enemy into internment camps to protect their “own” and make them believe they needed to be the heroes like in the storyline and fight off the “evil” Japanese. 


The ideology of the white male dominated society during the second world war

At the time of the second world war the world was not as open as it is today in 2018, society saw things in a much more slanted view and had a supreme ideology about the white man as they were the only ones with full rights. Women had barely just earned the right to vote and Japanese Canadians were being locked away. The ideology at the time was that the white men held all the possibility in the world and controlled all the decisions. They decided if there would be a war, who would be in that war and how they could help and luckily in the second world war the boundaries opened up a bit in regards to gender and race but the white man still held the most power in the world. This relates to the comic as during the war the targeted audience was the white male and in order to reach that demographic they follow their ideologies, like the degrading of the Japanese and the use of women in order to hit their market. If they can hit their market then they can make more money and encourage more of the white men to join the war as they were who was wanted to fight the axis .

How the comics creators used methods to pull on the ideology of the targeted demographic

By playing on the white males ideologies they were able to use their own techniques in order to appeal to the market and get them to read more. They capitalized on their fear of the Japanese to create an enemy that they could defeat in the comic and make them feel more secure. They also capitalized on their dependability on women to ensure the men that they could leave and the women would take care of the home front until they get back. They drew the Japanese specifically to look weaker then the “heroes” of the story intentionally to add to their egos and make them more confident in themselves and their capabilities . While they also drew the female in the “Invisible Commando” in a demeaning form as she was essentially wearing a bra and a mini skirt on a battle field, they did this to create intrigue with the character and make the market more comfortable with her character as she was beautiful and works well as assisting them with their needs.


Works Cited

Bachle, Leo. “The invisible Commando.” Commando Comics, no. 2, March, 1942, pp. 43-48. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Darian, Jon. “Clift Steele.” Commando Comics, no. 2, March, 1942, pp. 1-7. Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection, 1941-1946. RULA Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Hallowell, Gerald. “Cartoonist.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford University press, 2004. rskey=xrnhlt&result=2

Hallowell, Gerald. “Wartime Internment.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford University press, 2004. rskey=QOBJag&result=1

“Huge Increase in Gun Output Here, Women Workers’ Skill Amaze M.P.’s.” Globe and Mail, 11 June 1942.

McAllister, Kirsten. “Photographs of a Japanese Canadian Internment Camp: Mourning Loss and Invoking a Future.” Visual Studies, vol. 21, no. 2, 2006, pp. 133–56.

Rogers, Hubert. Attack on All Fronts. 1943, fact/1019736/q=&page_num=1&item_num=0&media_irn=5399483&mode=artifact. Canadian War Museum.

Stephen, Jennifer A. “Balancing Equality for the Post-War Woman: Demobilising Canada’s Women Workers After World War Two.” Atlantis, vol. 32, no. 1, 2007, pp. 125–35.

Images in this online exhibition 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.

Patriotism in Active Comics no. 5/ Instilling the Canadian Identity


©Copyright 2018 @Yousef Farhang, Ryerson University


American comics were popular during WW2, and the Canadian youth immensely enjoyed reading them. However, the Canadian Whites, “due to the black and white interiors that distinguished them from the four-color American comics of the period, arose in response to the wartime importation ban on non- essential goods that removed American comic books from Canadian newsstands” (Beaty 429). These comics were used an entertainment medium for young readers, and influenced the role of youth during the war. Political messages were spread in newsletters and narratives of these comics to direct the readers into being faithful towards their country. In Active Comics no.5, the repeating theme of loyalty portrayed by Active Jim and other narratives, portrays the political aspects of the comics during the war, and how these messages were ultimately used to instill the Canadian identity into both the male and female readers. These comics advertise allegiance in their narratives, while also challenging the political issues of the war.

Themes in Comics: Loyalty

The Canadian Whites were not just a medium for entertainment. They included a variety of themes in their stories to influence the readers. Active Comics no. 5 (May 1943) is filled with stories about different superheroes who fight evil and represent the Canadian identity through their actions. In fact, Active Jim, “an athletic and clean-cut young man who serves as the spokesman and figurehead of the Club and who, from this issue on, merits a regular story in Active Comics until issue 24” is the voice of a Canadian youth during the war who advertises loyalty and how vital it is to be allegiant (Kocmarek 157). By using a character such as Active Jim, the writers not only made these comics interesting, but they also effectively included themes of loyalty which influenced patriotism to the children and adolescents who read these comic books.

As previously mentioned, the comic books were not only there for entertainment. Ann Babic, in her 2013 novel Comics as History, Comics as Literature, says “the stories within [the comic book’s] pages are more complex than a tale of a hero surpassing a villain” (Babic 15). In the Canadian White comics, there are some deliberate choices of themes in these comics. The comics bring political ideas to readers through their theme of good versus evil, which is portrayed by the superheroes and the villains. Active Comics no. 5 portrays the themes of good vs. evil by having two narratives where the hero of the story stops a villain who attempts to betray their own country. To illustrate, in the first story if Active Comics no. 5, “Dixon Of The Mounted,” Dixon, who is the protagonist of the story,

Steele, T.A. (w.a). Active
Comics. Dixon of the Mounted. No.5, May 1942, Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

finds out the sheriff of the town is helping the villain of the story get away with his crimes. Similarly, in the story “The Brain,” the mayor of the city deceives everyone into thinking that he is helping the hero of the story, The Brain, save the city from Dr. Black who is a corrupted villain. However, The Brain is able to outsmart the mayor, and reveals that he was in fact Dr. Black. Aside from having racial intentions in naming a villain “Black,” which is interpreted as people of colour being evil, both of these short narratives were written to portray the themes of not only good versus evil, but also the theme of loyalty. In both stories, the villains were of high authority (sheriff and mayor) and are both breaking the law. In this way, the writers of the comics were able to show how being disloyal is being evil and it leads to not succeeding. Although the theme of loyalty is covert here, it is obvious that the plot of these stories had a message behind them and were done deliberately. To glorify loyalty and patriotism, Active Jim is a utility used by the writers of the comics to remind the audience of their duty towards their country. In fact, “Active Jim’s Monthly Message” does the same job as those two narratives. As mentioned before, in this monthly message, Active Jim praises loyalty and explains the importance of being loyal towards the “king and country” (Active Comics no. 17). This section of the comic is dedicated to a whole message about why allegiance is important. With the corrupted characters losing in every story, and the theme of loyalty and its benefits being spread in the comic, it is evident that that the repetition of this theme is vital because it is glorifying loyalty and denouncing corruptness.

Loyalty was taken seriously when it came to the Second World War. The pressure of war forced governments to do as much as they could to minimize any betrayal of loyalty. In fact, they praised loyalty through propaganda and newspapers. For example, in “French-Canadian Loyalty Demonstrated at Montreal,” a newspaper article from April 14th 1942, it is mentioned that “loyalty is, and always has been, one of the greatest qualities of French-Canadians” (“French-Canadian Loyalty Demonstrated at Montreal”). This praising of allegiance illustrates how much loyalty was important to Canada, and how conveying themes of loyalty in comics was not out of the ordinary and in fact, done deliberately.

Challenging The Norms of Political Messages

During the war, political messages were spread using many different mediums from television, radios, newspapers, and, of course, comics. While political messages that glorified Canada are easily spotted in Active Comics no. 5, political comments that are against Canada are not expressed overtly. However, when looking at both the art and the narratives of these comics, it is safe to assume the writers did have their own opinion of their government and what they thought of it. Going back to “Dixon Of the Mounted” and “The Brain,” these two stories do have messages that challenge the corruptness of the government of Canada itself. For instance, Dr. Black, who ends up being the mayor, wears a hat that has the British flag on it. This hat is very hard to see in the comic because it is shaded extremely dark. However, when looked closely, it is obvious that the hat does have the

L, Bachle. Panel from “The Brain”Active Comics, No. 5, May 1942, p. 18. Bell Features Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

British flag on it. The hat is significant because the artists of the comics were pointing fingers at the people in authority who ran the government (Dr. Black does after all end up being the mayor) and questioning their faithfulness towards their country. Similarly, in “Dixon of the Mounted,” it is the sheriff who is corrupted, even though it could have been anyone else in the story. Also, the sheriff being corrupt is only mentioned towards the end of the story, and they did not put much focus on that part; the writers did not challenge these norms by being blatantly obvious. This is vital because it shows how furtive the writers must have been to share their own unpopular and unwanted (by the government) opinion. This could have been because they knew what the government wanted the audience to take away from the comics, and that was to become more loyal towards their country instead of questioning if the government is corrupt or not. These issues of corruption are ways in which the writers broke thorough norms and challenged authority, while also pushing allegiance towards the readers. By doing this, the authors were able to express their own ideas through small details in the comics, while also being able to help the readers become more attached to their country and perhaps join the war for their country, since that is what their childhood heroes (the superheroes) have advertised in the comics they read.

The Male & Female Audience of The Comics

It is clear that these comics were used to push messages of loyalty to the readers and influence their ways of living during the war. However, it is vital to understand who these audiences were, and why they would be influenced by these comics. The comics “were read eagerly by the adolescents and pre-adolescents of Second World War” (Kockmarek 156). “During World War II, Canadian comics were the only option for comic book readers, [and these comics were] different from their American counterparts in their scope as well as their levels of violence and patriotism” (Reyns 15). The Canadian Whites being the only accessible comic, forced the readers to read these comics and also helped the messages these comics contained reach all the comic book fans, which were “both boys and girls” (J.L. Granatstein and F.Oliver). Knowing that both male and females read the comics, it is certain that Active Jim’s monthly message to stay loyal during the war was therefore for both the male and the female audience. It is easy to assume women did not have a role in the army, and therefore that his message most likely was not directed to the female audience of the comics. However, this is entirely false. Women were active in the war effort just as much as men, and they had many responsibilities such as “street car drivers to aircraft designers – and 1.4 million women were employed, a participation rate of almost one in three, at the wartime peak in 1945” (J.L. Granatstein and F.oliver). Understanding the role of women in connection to the comics is significant since that means the political messages of loyalty were just as much directed towards the female readers as the male readers.

Instilling The Canadian Identity

The superheroes are the characters who express loyalty towards Canada, and the evil villains are the ones described as “crooks” (Active Comics no. 5 11). The children who read these comics praised these heroes and wanted to be like them. This is why all the superheroes are men who are loyal to their countries. According to Beaty, the superheroes in these comics represent the Canadian identity (Beaty 431). With this being said, the superheroes were “not just entertaining fantasy figures” (Beaty 431), and indeed they played a much higher role. The roles of heroes such as The Brain were to show what a good soldier is like and how important it is to not lose your self identity. However, having superheroes who have powers was not very productive in influencing the readers. Therefore, the comics that “were often doled out by teenage creators only a little older than” the readers themselves” (Kocmarek 157), used characters like Active Jim to leave more room for the readers to relate to the comics. Active Jim did not have any powers and was an ordinary teenager during the war. He was the perfect example of a hero who was “exciting, but not overly exciting; active in the war, but not so active as to accomplish much of significance” (Beaty 430). Including relatable characters was done deliberately to help the readers connect to the characters more which ultimately helps the influence of the heroes become much higher; if the heroes did something completely unimaginable for the readers, the young readers would not be able to put themselves in the position of the hero and therefore not relate to the Canadian identity.


The Canadian Whites have been part of the Canadian culture since the Second World War and have been a great medium to influence the children of war. These comic books were not only used as entertainment in a time of war, where Canada was having difficulties with American goods; they were also used to influence the young readers to become more patriotic towards their home country. The political messages of allegiance spread by the narratives such as “The Brain” and “Dixon of The Mounted,” as well as “Active Jim’s monthly messages,” all contributed in helping the comic writers shape the Canadian identity and influence readers to not betray their own country and even join the war to support their leaders and families.

Continue reading Patriotism in Active Comics no. 5/ Instilling the Canadian Identity

Circling the Perimeter/ Entrenching the Perspective: War Comics as Vision Machines

Copyright @Monique Tschofen

…the comparative success or failure of any given war becomes dependent on securing ocular dominance. (Mark Featherstone, 436)

…a supply of images would become the equivalent of an ammunition supply… (Virilio, War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception, 1)

 Comics, as much as pornography or video games or theme park attractions, are products and producers of what Jean-Louis Comolli described as the modern “frenzy of the visible.” They are designed to make us look, and to look closely, at the same time as they supercharge that seeing. While comics studies has tended to focus on how comics are at their core story-telling media, comics readers—especially children—know that the story or its characters often matter little. Much of the pleasure of the text emerges from the way a comic frames our vision. We take delight in the comic’s lexicon of close-ups and low angles, point of view and reaction shots, and detail inserts. We are seduced by the chiseled chin, the bulging bicep, and the punch at the reverberating instant after it has hit its mark. In even the most facile comics story, moody shadows and spotlights, jagged lines and cloud-like bubbles can provide deep satisfaction to a gaze that lingers.

This paper departs from the premise that, despite its medium specificities, comics belong to a broader visualculturewhere they work alongside other practices to generate and replicate ways of seeing and produce observers. In order to understand the ideologically persuasive force of comics and their complicity in inculcating certain kinds of beliefs it is necessary to consider the comic’s construction of vison as part of a far larger set of technologically-mediated culturally-determined practices of seeing. Doing so makes it possible to connect the comic’s embeddedness in systems of representation—that is, in ideology[i]—to its participation in broader representational systems—that is, to a schema of technologies and techniques that frame a perspective of the world.

Comics and Media Studies

Despite the similarities between comics and other visual media like film or picture books, the discipline of comics studies has grown largely from the assumption that comics are unlike other visual art forms, and require medium-specific critical approaches.[i]However, the discipline’s need to delineate its own contours by asserting how comics differ from other media has been unnecessarily restrictive. In the afterword to a special issue of Critical Inquiry devoted to comics,W.J.T. Mitchell seeks to take away the protective barriers between comics studies’ and other media studies. He poses two questions: “Where do comics fit among the media, and what can the study of media tell us about comics?”[ii]

Submarine explosion
C.T. Legault (a). Active Comics. No. 1, February 1942,
Commercial Signs of Canada: Cover. Bell Features
Collection, Library and Archives Canada.

The first part of his question about comics, where do comics fit among media, asks comics scholars to do some inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary work. To understand comics, he hints, one needs to acknowledge that media do not emerge in isolation from one another; many practices feed into and out from comics such as drawing and writing as do many technologies such as newspapers, magazines, and pulp publications.[iii]Mitchell would caution against a reductive, linear understanding of media history in which each medium would be seen to remediate the one that came before it.

The second part of Mitchell’s question, “what can the study of media tell us about comics?” (255),  hints that the kinds of questions that other disciplines ask can be productively imported into comics studies. Doing so would not condemn comics to a subordinate position within some specious hierarchy of media, as many comics scholars have suggested.[iv]Rather, one of the implications of Mitchell’s work is that understanding comics as a visual practice within a media culture,for example, would make it possible to enrichen the questions we pose about comics.

Prompted by Mitchell’s invitation to widen the optic of comics studies, we should therefore not only ask what comics are and what modes of engagement they demand from the viewer. Neither should we only ask about what they do when they traffic in stereotypes to transform ideology into myth and convince the masses of the rightness of systems of belief. We could use a “form sensitive analysis,” which according to Dilip Gaonkar and Elizabeth Povinelli, asks “how to engage [cultural and technological] forms as mobile vectors of cultural and social imaginaries…to foreground the social life of the form” rather than merely “reading social life off of it.”[v]

 Works cited


Images in this online exhibition 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.