Let’s Talk Comics: War and Military

 

Cover of Captain America, v. 2 no.1, (March 1941).

From the beginning comic books have published war stories and adventures, profiling every branch of the military and visually portraying every aspect of modern warfare. Even before the United States entered World War II, Captain America fought Adolph Hitler  on the cover of Captain America no. 1 (1940). Contemporary comics on war and the military include graphic journalism pieces as well as comics by and about veterans themselves.

“Bethesda, Maryland” Cartoon Picayune, no. 4 (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of G.I. Joe, no. 6 (December 1951) and G.I. Joe, a Real American Hero, no. 1 (June 1982).

G.I. Joe, who began as a newspaper comic strip and later had his own self-titled comic book, is perhaps one of the most well-known military comics today, but there were many others. Particularly during the Korean War, even continuing into the Vietnam War, wartime adventures in comics were popular alongside their other genre counter-parts such as CrimeRomance, and Western Comics.

Navy Combat, Fightin Marines, Our Fighting Forces, Star Spangled War Stories, even Weird War Tales and Wartime Romances were only a few of the titles that featured the US military and war stories. While many stories include depictions of race and gender now considered inappropriate, they document public perception of these issues at the time.

Cover of Wartime Romances, no. 1 (July 1951), Sgt. Fury, no. 1 (May 1963), and Weird War Tales, no. 1 (September-October 1971)

Cover of The M16A1 rifle: operation and preventive maintenance, (1969)

Comics weren’t limited to fictional accounts, however. Did you know the US Government published comics? Legendary cartoonist Will Eisner, for example, served as a cartoonist in WWII where he illustrated the technical bulletin series PS The Preventative Maintenance Monthly, as well as other stand-alone publications like this one specifically for soldiers during the Vietnam War. Superheroes even joined the non-fiction wagon, publishing stories and full issues on topics ranging from sportsmanship, landmine awareness, to anti-drug awareness and other heath topics.

Cover of Spider-Man Battles the Myth Monster,(1991) and interior page “Batman and Robin Stand Up for Sportsmanship!” from Batman, no. 57 (February-March 1950)

 

There are so many intersections between comics and war and the military, I only touched briefly on a few from our collection. I’m looking forward to finding more in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.