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The World’s Most Tortured Pun – Blue Circle Comics #3, September 1944

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I’ve honestly put far more thought into this post than I should have. I’ve batted ideas around for days, weighing them to evaluate how I can present this comic book page to you. I’ve been flashing back on my high school freshman year when I used to put off a hated project until the last minute (plus ten) because I just plain didn’t want to do it. More

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The Steel Fist – Blue Circle Comics #1, June 1944

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After I’ve read a Golden Age comic story I’ll occasionally have the nagging feeling that I missed something subtle, yet important, in the story and consequently I’ll go back to read it again. I had to read today’s tale more than twice to figure out why I had that nagging feeling.

Today’s tale comes to us from Enwil Associates, a small and somewhat fly-by-night collection of comic companies which released a handful of comics during the period 1944 through 1946. None of their titles went past the five issue mark by utilizing original content (although a couple of them reached a sixth issue consisting of republished material). There is a fair bit of evidence that Enwil didn’t have “in house” writers and artists but instead purchased their content from studios and other publishers. They did publish a fair amount of pretty interesting stories, though, of which a few have previously graced the virtual pages of this blog: Toreador, Gail Porter, Driftwood Davey, Maureen Marine, and one of my personal Golden Age favorites: The Green Turtle. More

Sorry, kids, but your folks have to go

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I’m always hearing people saying these are tough times in which to be a child. Honestly, though, every generation says this same thing; people were saying it when I was a kid decades ago. It’s tough to be a kid, period, no matter what era you live in – I’m not disputing that. But I will propose the notion that the late 1930’s and early 1940’s were a tough time to be a parent, for one simple reason.

In order for a child to become a Golden Age comic hero, it was a requirement that his or her parents first had to die. More

The Long Shadow of Porfirio Diaz – Blue Circle Comics #5, March 1945

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I’ve started and restarted this post a half-dozen times; it’s a good thing I work in digital media, otherwise I’d have the stereotypical (and humorous) piles of crumpled paper littering the floor around me. Here’s the problem: I have a couple of historian friends who accuse me of “wasting my time” on 1930’s and 1940’s pop culture, and I’ve been trying to find a nice way to tell them they’re totally wrong without being personally insulting.

So, after starting this post six (or nine? I forget) different ways, I’ve decided to show them (and you) a graphic example (no pun intended) of what you can learn from the pop culture of a particular historical period, one I stumbled across very recently. It’s an example of how everything you read, hear, learn, and know bumps up against everything else you’ve absorbed over the years. We’ll start with a couple of seemingly random tidbits, read a 1940’s comic book story, then we’ll have a short bit of history, after which – like the end of an episode of Seinfeld – it’ll all come together. More

Gals with Moxie: Gail Porter, Girl Reporter – Blue Circle Comics #1 (June 1944)

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It’s interesting to note how the changing roles of women in American society between the 1930’s and the 1950’s were reflected in popular culture. During the 1930’s, women in popular entertainment were often portrayed as getting into trouble and needing to be rescued; the Flash Gordon movie serials provide excellent examples – Dale Arden is on hand simply to be Flash’s love interest and the object of Ming’s lustful desires, but contributes little else to the story (at least in the first serial in the series; later serials gave Dale a slightly more active role). By the 1940’s, we begin to see bolder, brassier heroines (more about this in a moment) exemplified by Hollywood actresses like Barbara Stanwyck, the young Lauren Bacall, even Rita Hayworth and Myrna Loy (the latter of whom could pull off the delicate combination of “assertive” and “classy” simultaneously). During the 1950’s the pendulum had swung back toward the middle – sure, you get the always amazing Jane Russell (I’m no masochist, but if Jane Russell wanted to hurt me I’d let her), but at the other end of the spectrum we can’t forget that the most popular actress of the period was Doris Day: Miss “Stay Home and Tale Care of the Kids” herself. More

A Depression-era parable – Blue Circle Comics #1, June 1944

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For the past year or so I’ve tried to keep politics and current events out of this blog as much as possible. It seems that nearly any conversation in modern day America has the potential to become highly politicized (and thus highly divisive) at the drop of a hat. I’ve previously blogged about my self-imposed rule to not draw parallels and analogies between the past and the present day when I worked as a historian for the Maryland Park Service, due mainly to the insane ramblings of a (then) popular TV “personality”; I learned early on that any “then and now” historical analogies on my part bore a high potential of igniting a supercharged dogfight between politically opposed museum visitors (one such “debate” between two parties of visitors became so heated that I almost had to call the park police). I’ve since come to consider that TV commentator a personal “life enemy” because of how difficult my job became due in large measure to his historical half-truths, distortions, and outright fabrications.

However, there are times when I just can’t sidestep the parallels. In today’s post I need to just bite the bullet, draw the analogies, and let the chips fall where they may. More