Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Number 29

Golden Lad and the League of 1965 

At the end of World War II, the idea of a United Nations, something that was hoped would prevent the type of war just ended, was being established. Some people found the idea threatening, considering it part of a "world government," a plot to replace our national government. You still meet people who believe that.

This story is really pretty simple; too simple. Some kids have a "League of 1965," which promotes the idea of a world organization (unnamed, but most likely the United Nations). Some crooked newspaper editor wants to squash it by telling lies about it. Golden Lad helps the kids, the editor is exposed, a congressman votes for the world organization, end of story.

In the story Golden Lad helps a Jewish boy who is assaulted by some men. Talking about racial equality in those days was enough to get you in trouble with a strong contingent in Congress, which even at that time was fighting back any laws designed to help or give equal rights to racial minorities.

When Golden Boy beats up the bad guys and says we "regard everyone as equal regardless of religion or color," he's speaking to an ideal which wasn't realized by a long shot. Many states segregated their citizens by race, and discrimination based on religion and race was not only common but accepted. Golden Boy must have been speaking of the way he personally felt, not how things really were in America at the time.

The story is overly simplified, but interesting because of its place in time and history.

The dates seem wrong. The kids all look to be 12 or so, and the premise of their League is that in 1965 they'll be the ages of the men fighting the current war. I hate to spoil their math, but the men who actually fought the real Vietnam war in 1965 were born years after the fictitious kids in the strip. It'd probably be more proper to call this The League Of 1955, but maybe that didn't have the futuristic ring of 1965, which at the end of World War II seemed very far away.

This story came from Golden Lad #3, 1946. I have it in the form of tear sheets. Years ago I was given a box of comic book stories, cut out of their original issues by a man who collected stories by his favorite artists. I reconstructed several of the stories that were complete, but after eliminating the stories with copyrighted characters like Batman and the stories that were too brittle for anything but the trash basket, I had a few stories that I could scan and post. It's also why there are chips out of many of the pages. They flaked away.

This story was drawn by Mort Meskin, an artist who worked for a long time in the comics industry. His sons have a wonderful website devoted to Meskin, which will give you further information. Meskin was a cartoonists' cartoonist, someone who influenced and mentored other artists without necessarily gaining a lot of fame for himself.

Forty-one years after the real year of 1965, and 61 years after the publication year, 1945, all of these ideas seem far away and very idealistic, but the fact is we're still fighting wars, and who's to say that idealism is wrong?



Steve Bergson said...

According to the Grand Comics Database, the story appeared in Golden Lad #3 (Feb. 1946).

Daniel Kian said...

Thank heavens for Golden Boy! The US joined the UN, and there was no more war!