Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Number 2378: Strange neighbors, indeed...

“Our Strange Neighbors,” from Atlas’ Journey Into Unknown Worlds #51 (1956), is a well-meaning story that falls short. In the era when segregation was being dismantled by court orders, many areas of so-called non-segregated America were far from integrated. There was a de facto nationwide segregation policy when it came to housing, especially in the spreading suburbs. Stories in comic books about offensive real-life racist policies were generally avoided, but when they were done, as in this story, surrogates for African-Americans were used to avoid pissing off magazine distributors, politicians, or any Klan members who might take offense. Did it work? It might have escaped notice by being the last story in the comic book, but anyone who read it could have seen right through it.

To add to the obvious, one of the alien characters is called Mr Neeg.

The message of this short 4-pager is diluted. A story about a mob pushing out the otherworldly aliens who only want to be good neighbors, having the unwanted green people as tokens who would have brought great things for the white citizens but being denied by a mob, is weak and an artifact of its time.

Despite what I consider the tale’s failings it is a curiosity of its era, and well drawn by John Forte. No writer is credited.