I learned something new this week when I read Jacqueline Guest's novel The Comic Book War
. Canada, as you probably know, entered WWII two years before the United States did. But wars cost money and in order to conserve Canada's balance of trade with the United States, Parliament passed War Exchange Conservation Act on December 6, 1940.
What this meant for fans of American comic book living north of the 49th Parallel was that there would be no more importation of such comic favorites as Superman, Batman or relative newcomer Captain Marvel.
To make up for this deficit, Canadian publishers scrambled to start producing their own superhero comic books. In March 1941, Maple Leaf Publishing introduced the first issue of Better Comics
and the first Canadian-created superhero Iron Man, created by Vernon Miller, formerly of the Disney Studios. Iron Man was indestructible, having super strenght and was amphibious to boot. He had originally lived on an island in the South Pacific, but an earthquake had obliterated all the inhabitants save him. When the war started, Iron Man decided to throw his lot in with the Allies. Like Iron Man, all the content in Better Comics
was original and the stories were often serialized to keep customers coming back for more, but it seems to have been relatively successful, continuing to publish through the war.
August 1941 saw the publication of Triumph Adventure Comics
by Hillborough Studio. Founded by three artists, Triumph Adventure Comics
introduced Canada's first Canadian-created, true Canadian superhero: Nevlana of the Northern Lights. She was the child of a mortal mother and the King of the Northern Lights, Koliak the Mighty. Nelvana could fly and travel at the speed of light by riding on a light beam from the Aurora Boralis. Over time, more powers were written into the stories as they were needed. It should also be noted that Nelvana
arrived on the comic book scene a full four months before her American counterpart Wonder Woman.
|Triumph Adventure Comics #1 August 1941; Triumph Comics March 1942|
Nelvana continued to appear in Triumph-Adventure Comics until February 1941, for a total of 7 issues. When her creator, Adrian Dingle, left Hillborough, he went to Bell Features taking Nelvana with him.
Bell Features was a very successful comic book publisher. They were very Canadian focused and that was what readers really wanted during the war. Besides Nelvana in Triumph
, there was the Penguin in WOW Comics
. Unlike Batman's nemesis by the same name, WOW's
Penguin spent his time fighting evil, especially the evil that was the Axis powers. He was a master spy, a detective, an expert marksman, excellent at hand to hand combat and once you saw his face, you knew you didn't have long for this world. And his identity was often speculated about but never revealed.
Bell also published Dime Comics
and in February 1942, another true Canadian hero made his appearance. Johnny Canuck
was the creation of a 16 year old boy name Leo Bachle. Johnny Canuck, a captain in the allied Air Force was also endowed with super strength.
|Dime Comics February 1942 introducing Johnny Canuck|
Last, but not least, we come to Educational Projects of Montreal. Educational Projects introduced Canadian Heroes
into the mixed of superheroes, focusing on real people who were real heroes. Needless to say, this kind of comic books didn't really go over well with kids who were used to much more daring, dangerous and exciting fare for their heroes.
|Canadian Heroes #1 November 1942 and #5, March 1943 introducing Canada Jack|
And so Education Projects decided to forgo the real, focus on the fictional and so Canada Jack
was created for the March 1943 issue of Canadian Heroes
. Canada Jack was just an ordinary guy without superpowers but he was an expert gymnast at the top of his form. He actually became popular enough with kids that The Canada Jack Club was formed and kids were encouraged not only to join the club, but to do work to help the war effort. Then, each month a different member and their war activities were spotlighted in the comic book.
|Members spotlighted in Canadian Heroes V. 4 #6 December 1944 |
But alas, this golden age of Canadian comic books was not to last beyond the end of the war, when the War Exchange Conservation Act was not longer needed and once again, American comic books flooded the Canadian markets with the kind of glitzy comics that the Canadian publishers just couldn't compete with.
So, what are they called Canadian Whites? The covers may have looked just like the kind of four color covers you would find on American comics, but that is where the similarity ends. The stories inside were all done in black and white, as you can see from some of the examples used here.
In 1995, the Canadian Post Office issued a set of 5 stamps commorating comic book heroes. These included WWII superheroes Superman, Johnny Canuck and Nelvana, as well as Captain Canuck and Fleur de Lys from the 1970s and 1980s.
Bell, John. Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe.
Toronto: Dundum, 2006.
Most images used are public domain.
This Memorial Day weekend please take some time to think about those who served their country and are no longer with us. And then, like Nancy, take a moment to thank those who are still with us.
Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker May 30, 2010
Hi and Lois by Brian and Greg Walker May 28, 2012
Red and Rover by Brian Basset May 28, 2012
Nancy by Guy Gilchrist May 28, 2012
One of the ways that the government financed World War II was by selling war bonds. Beginning in December 1942, a series of eight war bond drives began, the last one held in December 1945. Advertising for the sale of war bonds was donated and, when it was all over, more than $156 billion was raised in the 8 bonds drives held, despite the fact that money was so tight for the average citizen.
To encourage already strapped people to buy war bonds, the government employed all kinds of publicity. Movie stars, radio stars, singing stars and sports stars were all enlisted to help, often appearing at massive rallies or sporting events during bond drives.
|Left: a bond drive on Wall Street|
Center: 1943 three day Cavalcade of Stars bond drive
(how many stars do you recognize?)
Right: 1943 Brooklyn Dogers war bond honor card
Kids were also encouraged to do their bit for the war and to buy bonds at school. But how do you get kids to part with their hard won nickels and dimes? One way was by having some of their favorite comic book/scomic strip characters sound the appeal. And these characters all got into the swing of it, as you can see here:
By: Alex Baugh,
People always ask me if I collect WWII memorabilia/paraphernalia. The answer is no, the only things I do own from that time are books and some magazines and they were originally purchased for a reason other than this blog. I really only needed them for reading purposes, not as collector's items. So, for example, I paid a mere $3.00 for this copy of Nurse Merton, Desert Captive
because I needed it and didn't care that it was an old library copy that had not cover and was missing some front pages.
|Nurse Merton, Desert Captive|
I also have a bunch of magazines for kids from that time and among them are some original issues of a magazine called Calling All Girls
In July1941, the Parent's Magazine Institute began Calling All Girls
for younger teenage girls. Published on a monthly basis, each issue consisted of comics, fashion (but more along the lines of either sew it yourself or make do and update what you already own kind, not the buy-new-stuff kind of fashion,) stories and other articles that would be of interest to girls.
The United States didn't enter the war until December 1941 and it took Calling All Girls
until sometime in 1942 to catch up with current events, but when it did, its pages were filled with war related articles, stories and comics. Unlike those found in comic books or comic strips in the newspapers, the comics in Calling All Girls
were always about girls or women and were designed to be informative. I thought this one from July 1942 about infantile paralysis or polio was particularly good example of the type of comics found in this magazine. It was both timely and interesting, since here had been polio epidemics in the 1930s and the 1940s, the March of Dimes had also been founded in 1935 and our wartime President Roosevelt was himself a victim of polio.
(Press images to make them larger)
December 21, 1943:
December 22, 1943:
December 23, 1943:
December 24, 1943:
December 25, 1943:
Planting time has come around once again, so I thought I would share these two pages from a comic book produced during WWII to encourage kids to get involved with planting and maintaining Victory Gardens to help supplement food after rationing went into effect. People really took to the idea, planting in backyards, allotments, rooftops, fire escapes and even in window boxes.
|From: How Boys and Girls Can Help Win the War 1942|
This weekend I decided to take a page out of this comic and do some planting, too. Now, living in a city apartment has some definite advantages, but having a backyard garden isn't one of them. So, I do what I can with window boxes with lots of herbs. All summer long, I just open the screen and snip at what ever I need to make things tastier. Luckily, NYC has some wonderful farmer's markets where I can buy all kinds of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
This morning, I had sad, sad window boxes:
But lots new plants:
And now, I have very happy window boxes:
Brewster Rockit (10/7) by Tim Rickard; Brevity (10/5) by Guy and Rod; and Off The Mark (10/7) by Mark Parisi.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue and John Hall)
Rhymes With Orange (10/14) by Hilary Price; Sally Forth (10/13) by Greg Howard; and Forever Endeavor (10/14) by Tom Mullany.
(Thank you, Jim Lahue)
This week Mutts (10/17) by Patrick McDonnell; Medium Large (10/20) by Marciuliano; Thataboy (10/23) by Paul Trap; and BC (10/17) by Mastroianni and Hart.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez and the comic strip crew)
Medium Large (10/31) by Francesco Marciuliano; Tundra (10/29) by Chad Carpenter; Ink Pen (10/24) by Phil Dunlap; The New Yorker magazine cartoon (9/27) by Joe Dator; and Moderately Confused (10/26) by Jeff Stahler.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue)
A weekly round-up of syndicated comic strips referencing animation. This week The Flying McCoys (11/3) by Glenn and Gary McCoy; Strange Brew (11/4) by John Deering; and Rubes (11/6) by Leigh Rubin.
(Thanks Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez and Ed Austin)
Each week, just for fun, we post several syndicated comic strips that make reference to animated cartoon characters. We are not claiming these to be the greatest comics of the week, or even particularly well-drawn or funny. It’s simply a reflection of how animation is perceived in a related media, and our record of it. [...]
By: Alex Baugh,
|From: The Saturday Evening Post June 6, 1943|
For an interesting article about the work of cartoonists and their efforts to keep up morale of people during the World War II, see Stripper's Guide
This is a reprint of an article from a journal called Editor and Publisher,
originally published September 19, 1942.NB Women's teaching colleges used to be called seminaries, e.g. Mount Holyoke College used to be called Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.
By: Alex Baugh,
World War II began right in the middle of the golden age of comics (1930s through 1940s) and gave rise to a few new superheroes. Superman first appeared in April 1938, Batman in May 1939, The Flash in January 1941, Green Lantern in July 1940, Al Pratt’s The Atom in October 194, Hawk Man January in 1940, Aquaman in November 1941, Captain Marvel in February 1940 and Captain America in March 194. The very popular Captain Midnight appeared in comic book form in 1941, though he was already a successful radio show, and also appeared in a comic strip beginning in 1942. When America entered the war, most of these superheroes found themselves fighting the forces of evil – Nazi and Japanese spies and, saboteurs or the occasional mad scientist or quisling. They never really got into the real war in Europe or the Pacific, but were revered by their fans nevertheless.
Most people think that Wonder Woman, who first appeared in December 1941, was the only female superhero to emerge during the war, but in fact, the first was Russell Stramm Invisible Scarlet O’Neil
. Scarlet hit the superhero scene on June 3, 194o in the Chicago Times and in her first strip she explains how she became invisible:
Scarlet didn’t really tackle foreign enemies on US soil; most of her escapades were pretty typical comic strip fare: bullies, thieves, mean people and she especially liked helping children. But occasionally Scarlet’s patriotism would also shine through, as it did on Sunday, March 21, 1943:
During her heyday, according to Don Markstein’s Toonopedia
, Whitman published two Big Little Books devoted to Scarlet, and one novel when she was joined by other comic strip favorites like Terry and the Pirates
and Tillie the Toiler
.Invisible Scarlet O’Neil
ran from 1941to 1956.
This week: B.C. (7/2) by Mason Mastroianni; Medium Large (7/2) by Francesco Marciuliano; an editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich (6/27) for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Off the Mark (7/3) by Mark Parisi
(Thanks to Jim Lahue, Chris Cook, Charles Brubaker, Jed Martinez, Austin Papageorge and Uncle Wayne)
Each week we highlight several of the print cartoons, comic strips and panels that reflect the world of animation. This week we’ve got three examples: Doonesbury (7/28) by Garry Trudeau, Brevity (7/30) by Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry – both referencing Pixar – and Scott Hilburn’s Argyle Sweater (7/28), taking on a breakfast cereal icon.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay and Charles Brubaker)
This week we start with the final strip of a two week Boris & Natasha storyline in Over the Hedge. It wrapped up on Friday (8/6) with this appearance by Mr. Peabody & Sherman (you can read the whole thing starting here). Following that, we have Cul De Sac (7/31) by Richard Thompson; Ink Pen (8/1) by Phil Dunlap; and Strange Brew (8/7) by John Deering.
(Thank you Jim Lahue, Charles Brubaker, Michael Tuttle and Mark Kausler)
This week Beetle Bailey (8/11) by Mort Walker; Mallard Fillmore (8/9) by Bruce Tinsley; My Cage (8/8) by Ed Powers and Melissa DeJesus; Rubes (8/8) by Leigh Rubin; Strange Brew (8/11) by John Deering; and Reality Check (8/9) by Dave Whammond.
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay and Ed Austin)
Slim pickings this week: Lio (8/26) by Mark Tatulli; The Argyle Sweater (8/22) by Scott Hilburn; and Reality Check (8/27) by Dave Whammond.
(Thank you Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay, Charles Brubaker and Ed Austin)
My Cage (8/19/10) by Ed Power and Melissa DeJesus ; and Strange Brew (08/31/10) By John Deering.
(Thanks, Jim Lahue)
Bliss (9/10) by Harry Bliss; Argyle Sweater (9/10) by Scott Hilburn; and Off The Mark (9/6) by Mark Parisi.
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, Ed Austin and Kurtis Findlay)
This week, from the top, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial cartoon (9/3) by Steve Breen; Mother Goose and Grimm (9/24) by Mike Peters; Nancy (9/21) by Guy and Brad Gilchrist; Chuckle Bros. (9/23) by Brian and Ron Boychuck; Hari Kiwi (9/20) by Steven Degryse (aka “Lectrr”) and The Argyle Sweater (9/23) by Scott Hilburn.
(Thanks to Jim Lahue, John Hall, Ed Austin, Kurtis Findlay, Jed Martinez and Uncle Wayne)