Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hate The Enemy

   Whenever a nation goes to war, it must assure its citizens that they are morally on the right side of the conflict. This is usually done by "de-humanization", the claim that the enemy is less-than-human and thus lacking the protections we would give to any fellow living thing.
   In the 1940s, America needed to make sure the public understood just how evil our opponents were and all of the newly-evolving mass media was employed in the effort. Central to the campaign were comic books, avidly read by the teenagers who would soon be in the trenches.
   Here's the first of a series of postings which will show examples of this comic-book campaign.

The imagery of this campaign was pretty over the top. No subtlety here. Artists used racial and cultural stereotypes to depict the enemy as evil and inhuman.

Often the enemy is shown to have enlisted monsters, aliens and other evil creatures to do their bidding. Note the Rising Sun in the dragon's eyes.

Some art director must have thought Nazi storm troopers looked more menacing in purple!

Just as they do today, the generals point out that the other side uses suicide bombers.

On many of the comic covers, the enemy is shown being interrupted in some bizarre sadistic act like sawing this soldier in half.

Giving the Nazis vampire teeth was a clever touch.

Here is racial caricature of the crudest sort.

The Nazis and Japs were sure upset when the Hangman disrupted their innocent experiments breeding beautiful blonde women with aliens.

"Oh you big ugly brute. Is that a sword you're holding or are you just glad to see me?"

Here, a green, alien mind-melded Adolph Hitler personally oversees the torturing of a woman and child while surrounded by his Nazi-Jap-Alien minions!

The Superheroes arrive too late to save several of the people facing the firing squad.

Here Bucky incinerates a cave full of Japanese soldiers while his teenage entourage join in the fun. The enemy is, of course, pictured in a racially offensive way but so, too, was the group's token black member. The character wears a zoot suit and offers "jive" commentary on whatever is going on.

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