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A comic which will live in infamy – National Comics #18, December 1941

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Earlier this week the United States observed the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval and air base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And, as happens each December 7th, people take to social media and Internet blogs to post pictures of the cover of December 1941’s National Comics #18, mentioning that the book depicts a German attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s one of those great “Believe It or Not” style factoids that frequently get passed around on the Internet, but there’s a problem with this one: the comic does not depict a German attack on Pearl Harbor. I don’t know whether it’s a case of people repeating as gospel something they’ve heard elsewhere or a case of modern-day readers who struggle with the highly compressed (by today’s standards) style of writing employed by 1940’s comics, but even the Golden Age website Comic Book Plus mentions the “German attack” on Pearl.

Either way, the assertion is dead wrong. But the real story is actually far better and even more ironic… More

The War Wheel! – Blackhawk Comics #56, September 1952

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Comics featuring aviators were hugely popular during the Golden Age, and of these four color airmen Blackhawk ruled the proverbial roost; his appearances in Military Comics and, later, in Modern Comics were among the best selling comics of the era. In late 1944 Blackhawk was given his own title by Quality Comics (replacing Uncle Sam Quarterly) and his adventures appeared in both Modern Comics and his own book until late 1950 when Modern ceased publication. More

The Blue Tracer – Military Comics #1, August 1941

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Today is Veteran’s Day, a holiday which evolved from Armistice Day. Originally intended to recognize veterans of World War I, the holiday’s purpose was changed after World War Two to honor veterans of all United States wars. This is not the same thing as Memorial Day, which is intended to remember those who have died in American wars. Over the years the two have become not only conflated but nearly reversed in the minds of many citizens. Memorial Day was intended as a day of sombre remembrance. With the rise in the 1950’s of “consumer culture”, Memorial Day devolved into a happy, albeit unofficial (as well as astronomically incorrect), “first day of summer” rather than a day to remember the fallen. Veterans Day (somewhat unconsciously) in the minds of many became a conflated military holiday for recognizing the living and memorializing the dead. More

“Come on! Get your own origin!” – Feature Comics #38, November 1940

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Comic books superhero origins have always been a bit of a dicey subject. It’s very tough these days to come up with a truly original (no pun intended) concept for how a costumed hero or heroine obtained his or her powers. Most of the combinations of origins have already been used, so unless your new, exciting comic book character got his powers because he was a billionaire mutant who’d been bathed in gamma radiation after being struck by lightning at the exact moment as he was bitten by a radioactive wombat which had been exposed to cosmic rays and, as our hero recoiled from the bite, fell into a vat of chemicals but was saved from drowning by Cuchulain, who is secretly his father and anoints our hero heir to his legendary powers, his origin has probably already been done before. More

The Ghost of Flanders – Hit Comics #18, December 1941

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Saying that patriotic-themed characters were a staple of the Golden Age is more than a slight understatement; there was a veritable army of such characters appearing in comic books from the late 1930’s through the war years. Some of them still make appearances in today’s comics; Captain America, The Shield, and Uncle Sam are among these lasting characters. A few (like Pat Patriot) deserve to be far better remembered than they are today. Quite a few of them, however, lapsed into well-deserved obscurity. Today’s comic book feature falls squarely into the latter category. More

Catching saboteurs with the Boyville Brigadiers – Feature Comics #46, July 1941

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Not all of the adventures of “patriotic” comic book characters during the Golden Age were as heavy-handed as those of The Flag and Usa (previously considered in The Big Blog o’Fun); in fact, several showcased the virtues of the democratic ideal and tried by their example to encourage young readers to follow suit. One such feature was “Rusty Ryan and the Boyville Brigadiers” which, ironically, appeared in the same title as Usa; the first official “Boyville Brigadiers” story ran in the same Feature Comics issue (#46) as the fifth of Usa’s seven appearances.

 

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Usa, The Spirit of Old Glory – Feature Comics, Mar.-Sep. 1941

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Happy Independence Day, fellow Yanks! In keeping with the spirit of the day, The Big Blog o’Fun is presenting an overview of another Golden Age heroine with a patriotic theme: Usa, the Spirit of Old Glory. Don’t feel badly if you’ve never heard of her. Usa was obscure even while her adventures were still being published; these days she’s totally forgotten. More

Blackhawk: Death and Resurrection (Part Three) – Military Comics #10, June 1942

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The last two posts to this blog were occasioned by the oft-repeated myth that, after his apparent death, the French airman André was reintroduced to Quality Comics’ Blackhawk series without any explanation for his reappearance. In those post, we’ve seen the stories which contained his apparent death and his (wholly explained) reappearance; now we’ll finish the trilogy with the tale that completes André’s reintroduction to the team. More

Blackhawk: Death and Resurrection (Part Two) – Military Comics #9, April 1942

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Three months ago I offered a post about the influence of Alexandre Dumas’ work on Golden Age comic writers and their tales. Today I introduce Exhibit B to the argument. More

Blackhawk: Death and Resurrection (Part One) – Military Comics #3, October 1941

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A few months ago I noticed that this blog was getting an occasional visitor from a reader (or readers) in China. I was cracking wise on my Facebook page about how my blog hadn’t yet been blocked by the Chinese government and I wondered what I was doing wrong.

This post’ll be the one that does it. More

Four more pages would have been GREAT! – Doll Man Quarterly, Spring 1948

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I generally don’t go for blondes, but for the delightful Miss Torchy Todd I will gladly make an exception to that policy – as would any living heterosexual male on the planet.

In this blog’s virtual pages I often point out a tale’s social significance or connect the story to some historical event. Today’s story is definitely significant, and for a single reason: it features Torchy — in her underwear. More

Torchy’s Back! (And her front’s looking pretty nice, too!) – Modern Comics #55, Nov. 1946

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’ve been pretty busy with some paid writing and narration work (some of which even involves Golden Age comics!*), so there hasn’t been much time left to write for fun. That’s too bad, too – I have a couple of posts containing some good historical info percolating in the back of my brain right now. So, in the absence of any real substance, how about a little bit of Torchy instead? Nah, I didn’t think you’d object… More

The Origin of Blackhawk – Military Comics #1, August 1941

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Aviator comics were really big sellers during comics’ Golden Age, and for a couple of very obvious reasons. During the ghastly hell that was World War I, one group of military men lived under a chivalrous code (mostly, or at least gave the appearance of doing so): the aviators, who fought and died in flimsy canvas and wire contraptions thousands of feet in the sky. The stories of their exploits thrilled millions on the homefront. Later, in May 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to successfully fly a plane solo across the Atlantic Ocean; the feat instantly made him the most famous man on earth.  More

It’s Torchy! She’ll knock your eyes out! – Doll Man Quarterly #15, Winter 1947

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If you’re a heterosexual male, it’s impossible to stop yourself from getting hooked on Torchy Todd after you’ve seen her. Consider this as a warning. More

Blame it on Blackhawk

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I hinted at the end of my previous post that this blog would soon be carrying a disclaimer. I have since added just such a virtual document, and you’ll find the link at the top of this page. The obvious question is, “Why do you need a disclaimer?”

I blame it on Blackhawk. More

Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG: The Trophy Case #6 is out now!

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Great Scott Games has released the latest quarterly issue of the official Hideouts & Hoodlums magazine: The Trophy Case #6 is available now, and it’s free for download! More