Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Number 1671: Co-starring Hitler

Having posted several World War II and post-war stories featuring Adolf Hitler as villain, I believe Hitler might be the most represented world figure of the era. Even with Japan and Italy as allies of Nazi Germany, I believe that Hitler stood out as the arch-villain of the day. In Military Comics #21 (1943) there are two stories featuring him. I showed the Blackhawk entry in Pappy’s # 1635.

The Sniper is a second-string sort of hero. In his series he wandered around with his Robin Hood cap and his guns and dispatched enemies of democracy. Well, in the comics we have to suspend disbelief in order to follow the story, don’t we? The yellow cape alone would make him stand out in wartime Germany. I don’t think he could get far.

The feature appeared in Military Comics from issue #5 (1941) to #34 (1944), so he was strictly a wartime hero. This particular episode is drawn by Vernon Henkel, a comics journeyman whose work appeared from the 1930s until sometime in the 1950s when he went with a partner into educational filmstrips and industrial slides.

One of my favorite Hitler stories: Futuro takes Der Fuehrer “below”! Click on the thumbnail.


Daniel [] said...

While George Victor's book, Hitler: The Pathology of Evil at times significantly over-reaches, it is still an excellent work for understanding the real Hitler.

The sniper seemed to favor killing or otherwise injuring indirectly with his shots. (The destruction of the chandelier was probably regrettable.)

Perhaps there was a change in governance of the Netherlands between 3:5 and 6:3, or perhaps “Holland” here refers just to the coastal area of the Netherlands, and it was for some reason assigned its own ‘Protector’; or perhaps Henkel didn't understand where the Dutch lived.

Pappy said...

Daniel, for the most part comics were never real strong on geography. Because most of the creators were from New York that was the center of the universe and everything else was just kind of "out there." That is my impression, anyway.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Cool! Just yesterday I was re-reading my old copy of "Anti hitler Comics" n. 1, a mini series published in 1992 by New England Comics Press, Inc.
It reprints "Futuro kidnaps Hitler" and another story published in 1943 (Four Favorites n. 12) starring "The unknown soldier" (not the DC one of course).
What is really interesting is the intelligent essay written by editor George Suarez, who underlines the difference between these two stories and how differently is Hitler's figure perceived after 2 years of war: in the first story a buffoonish Hitler is taken to Satan, in the second he IS Satan: Hitler, a seemingly unstoppable evil spirit with a satanic mantle and horns, appears to a young american soldier and offers him invulnerability and honors, and to become a hero, but ultimately, in return, asks him to betray his comrades and flee, destroying their morale. The Unknown Soldier (a representation of the Sense of Duty) shows the ghosts of several victims of the Axis (among them some folks from Lidice and two Doolittle's guys) and convinces the young G.I. to give his life to stop a Nazi charge.
Don't know if further numbers of "Anti Hitler Comics" were actually published (the second one should have focused "Hitler in horror comics", but I strongly recommend this first issues to all those who missed it in the 90's.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

As for "the sniper", the story (aside from being quite silly) is pretty inaccurate from an historical point of view.
The first "protector" is clearly based on the fascinating figure of Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, chief of SD and "Reichsprotektor" of Bohemia and Moravia
The Netherland's "protector" is based on Gruppenfuhrer Seyss-Inquart (ex chanchellor of Austria) who was "Reichskommissar" for the Netherlands, while Belgium was directly ruled by the Wehrmacht (Gen. Von Falkenhausen) with strong interferences from the SS... Oh well, ... they were all Nazi targets for the Sniper, in the end.
As for the Yugoslavian Chetniks, some of them were pro-Nazis, some were against them, but all in all, what mattered for them was to fight Tito's communists.

Brian Barnes said...

I hero, the Sniper, fails at even the most basic point of being a sniper -- killing from a distance, silently, and without being noticed. This guy judo throws folks!

I'll throw one out for Daniel our resident history buff -- some of the best snipers of WWII were Russian women. Notably there was a lot of practice on the Eastern front! Now that would make a comic! Of course, they'd probably put them all in evening gowns and high heels :)

Ryan Anthony said...

A "hero" called The Sniper? Geez, how about one called The Killer or The Murderer? Of course, his ominous name is undercut by that outfit. He looks like the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Ah, Pappy, your blog is like comfort food (without the calories). Reading your new post is the first thing I do every M-W-F morning.

Daniel [] said...

Pappy, I'm sure that you're basically right, but here it's a perverse truth, as prior to British conquest in 1664 what is now called “New York” was called “Nieuw-Nederland”, and traces of the Dutch occupation remain to this day (as in the name “Harlem”).

Anonymous said...

The new masthead is just fine —no need for a damsel in distress, we can tell that these are crooks about to get comeuppance royal.

I've been looking at these recent posts and the links to related posts all from the 1940s. Comics were a young media, imagination both rampant and aiming for kids to buy it up. War and other aspects of the milieu right there. It's fascinating and kind of disquieting. I suspect there was, at least at times, a fair amount of amusement in drawing and writing these comics. But in the effort to make a living, maybe not a lot. I wonder. It's interesting to look back at these things even if, as in my case, I can't describe all that I pick up from reading them. Another era. A human endeavor simple enough but with plenty of angles in it.

The Futuro/Hitler comic maybe is the most amazing. But all are plenty whacky and I enjoy seeing them. Thanks, Pappy.

Pappy said...

Daniel, historically, sure...New York has a strong Dutch history. But the comic book creators were comprised of a lot of guys from the New York of the first half of the 20th century, many of them emigrants (or second generation) from Russia and countries of Europe. What did their adopted city have to do with the Netherlands, or the price of tulips for that matter?

Just funnin' you, Dan'l. I always appreciate your research and knowledge.

Pappy said...

J D, I just told Daniel I appreciate his research and knowledge, and it looks like with you I have another knowledgable person able to contribute to the conversation.

I understood (some History Channel documentary, I believe) that when Heydrich was assassinated the Nazi revenge was so brutal and severe — killing whole villages full of innocents — that other plans to murder top Nazis in similar fashion were put on hold.

Pappy said...

Ryan, thank you, my friend. Knowing my blog makes someone happy at three days a week makes my whole week. Right now I need to put some eyedrops in my itchy, irritated eyes from spending so much time staring at my monitor, but it's worth it if someone likes what I do.

Pappy said...

7f7, I like that line about comics folks: "A human endeavor simple enough..." Stories I read about the guys who went to work in the industry in its earliest days are pretty much that "I needed the work and it paid $4.00 a week!" or something like that. There were the guys hoping to get into magazine illustration or syndicated comic strips who worked in comic books hoping to work up; there were fine artists who moonlighted in comics to pay the grocery bills. It wasn't until a second wave, those guys who came in later, that I believe there were people who liked working in comics because they liked comic books.

It was the difference between those old-timers, like Jack Kirby, George Tuska, and too many others to list, who had started out in the thirties who were beginning to wrap up their careers (or had at best a decade or less left in comics) that were still manning the drawing boards when my generation, the post-war Baby Boomers, started storming the gates of the major comic book companies. My impression at the time was that my peers were really into comics because of the whole culture, the heroes and the storytelling. The older guys were doing that, also, but the difference was the Baby Boomers didn't enter the industry out of hunger like the originals did. And of course the Baby Boomers had about thirty years of precedents to guide them, while the originals pretty much had to pick up what they could from popular comic strips, movies, pulps and radio plays.

Pappy said...

Daniel, Brian Barnes has handed you the ball. You want to run with it?

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Thanks for your very kind words Mr. Pappy.
I'm just a Logorrheic Librarian with a passion for history (from which we learn nothing).
Your remarks on the hungry "old guard" of comic artists are very sharp. I think Carl Barks for instance was one of those hungry guys, but he was also a pictorial and satyrical genius.
The Baby-Boomers, yes. All in all, I guess even guys like Crumb, Corben and poor Vaughn Bodé didn't "enter the industry" (or stay out of it) out of hunger.
Even in the Eighties artists had good chances to express themselves working for the so-called "independent" companies and not prostituting to the "majors".
I'd like to have more clues on the present situation, as history's a wheel, so what's with "hunger" now?
P.S.: @Ryan Anthony I do the same M-W-F thing every morning. Let's be careful bro, or this will turn into a regular F'-k'hn (Klingon idiom) religious experience.

Pappy said...

J D, First Church of Pappy, sounds good. Any belief or ritual is allowed in the church except for human or animal sacrifice.

Daniel [] said...

I don't have much to say 'bout the female Soviet snipers. Beyond having seen pictures of them, I know almost nothing.

As to those pictures, well, the women range from, uhm, ‘plain’ through cute to beautiful, but none of them had the glamorous look of les femmes soviétiques fatales of popular fiction. The beautiful snipers were beautiful in the manner of Eastern European peasant girls. (Mom and Dad would never guess what sort of girl you'd actually brought home!)

(Not that comic books have much cared about how real people actually looked!)