In this paper, I argue that the propagandized use of comic books during World War II promoted views among Americans which contributed to antipathy towards Americans of Japanese and German descent. More generally, the goal of the essay is to highlight the importance of comic books as a reflection of the times – they simultaneously influence and are influenced by society’s dominant ideas – and promote the further study of such material. I examine the text and art from three comic book covers dated from 1942-1943. An analysis of these selections suggests that comic books depicted Axis soldiers as savage and animalistic, while Americans are portrayed as trustworthy heroes with whom the reader may easily identify. These conclusions are confirmed by various government sources, which claimed to have been teaching citizens about the war and the enemy, which in reality meant teaching citizens how to hate the enemy. Even more disturbing, comic books were read primarily by children, so these hateful ideas were spread to the most impressionable of all Americans. These very depictions, I argue, reflected and contributed to the general American sentiment towards the war, specifically in relation to the treatment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps and the use of atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Further, the proliferation of comic books and the sole fact that they were used as a propaganda arm by the U.S. Government demonstrates their importance during the period and suggests that they be studied more to further understand their importance to American society.
Gutierrez, Spencer (2019) "Comics in Action: A Reflection of the Dominant Narrative in World War II," SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 4 , Article 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25172/jour.4.1.10
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