Thursday, December 07, 2006

Number 64

COVERING UP: Classic covers of Golden Age Comics: Remember Pearl Harbor

Today is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the event which propelled Americans into WWII. The nature of the attack was such that it caused an instant reaction in the public. Outrage.

All media, and all popular media, immediately responded. Comic books were no exception.

Here are some examples of comics published right on the heels of Pearl Harbor. The first, Remember Pearl Harbor, drawn by Jack Binder for Street and Smith Publications, is a patriotic cover: Uncle Sam rolls up his shirt sleeves and strides across the Pacific to kick some butt!

Comics, by virtue of their cartoony origins, used their ability to caricature to present the enemy as inhuman, vampire-toothed, claw-fingered. It wasn't enough to just use the common stereotype of the day, buck teeth and thick glasses, to represent the Japanese. To reflect American anger, they had to be demonized. Young Allies#3, Spring 1942, drawn by Al Gabrielle, fall into the demon enemy category. On the Young Allies cover Gabrielle draws both types of caricatures: the demon, drooling and sharp-toothed, and the buck-toothed, thick glasses stereotype. Timely Comics used this sort of cover with great success and other publishers soon followed suit.

As a bonus, here's the original art to a cover by Alex Schomburg. Of all of the artists who did comic book covers during the war years, Schomburg really stands out for his excellent drawing ability and his ability to draw fantastic scenarios, with American heroes beating up on Axis gangsters in fantasy settings. This particular cover shows Schomburg's signature type of situation.

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