Comic books as we know them arrived during the hungry days of the 1930s as hastily assembled collections of Sunday strip reprints, peddled by would be entrepreneurs struggling to survive the Great Depression. In 1938, the fledgling enterprise suddenly became an industry when Superman appeared on the cover of the first issue of Action Comics. In September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War officially began, they exploded. By the time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, popular titles were regularly outselling mainstream magazines such as Time and The Saturday Evening Post, children and adults—especially those in the armed forces—were thrilling to the exploits of a colorful parade of new superheroes, and the star-spangled Captain America had become a national symbol.
Through a series of vibrant, sometimes shocking cover images, author Mark Fertig will explain how comics tried to chip away at the American public’s isolationism before Pearl Harbor, then how superheroes became public role models after the United States officially entered the war, and finally to conflict’s end, when war-weary readers grew tired of superheroes. From Captain America to Wonder Woman, government propaganda to cringe-inducing racism, Fertig will explain how the war helped comics cement an everlasting place in American culture, and he’ll answer one of the biggest questions of them all: Why didn’t Superman grab Hitler by the scruff of the neck and put an end to the war before it even got started?
Mark Fertig is the founder of the graphic design program and chair of the department of art and art history at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He’s the author ofTake That Adolf! The Fighting Comic Books of the Second World War and Film Noir 101: the 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s and 1950s, both from Fantagraphics Books.
$15 Non-members | $10 Members | $7 Seniors/ students (Undergrad with valid ID)