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Comics and the World Wars – a cultural record by Anna Hoyles

At the University of Lincoln, Professor Jane Chapman and her team of researchers have been funded by the AHRC to explore the cultural impact of comics produced during and about the World Wars. Two exhibitions are planned – one on World War One comics in 2014 & one on Second World War comics, 2015, both at London’s Cartoon Museum – as well as two monographs on the subject. Other outcomes already include conference papers and journal articles published in Australia and the UK (see below for links). In addition, further funding was secured from the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme for the project’s two PhD students to spend six months each at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, where they were able to utilise the library’s extensive comics archive material.

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Propaganda in Comics by Cord Scott

Comic books are the art of fantasy, exaggeration and power. So it was not surprising that soon after the creation of the comic book medium in the United States in the mid 1930s an element of propaganda began to blend into the artwork.

The idea of comic book characters being utilized in propaganda was illustrated through the comic book character Superman. The creation of two Jewish teens from Cleveland, Superman fought for the essence of American culture and societal justice, starting in 1938. In a specially created two page comic story and accompanying article for Look Magazine in February 1940, Superman flew to Berlin then to Moscow to gather up their respective dictators, Hitler and Stalin, and flew them to Geneva, Switzerland and placed them on trial for crimes against humanity at the League of Nations headquarter. Given that the US was not in the war yet, this was a bold action. Hitler’s chief propagandist Josef Goebbels even responded to the article in Das Schwartze Korps where he noted the creators’ origins and how decadent American ideals were the reason why the West could never defeat the Nazi ideology.

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Posted by on 2012/06/08 in Guest Writers

 

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