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A boy and a girl, each wearing overalls, sit at table reading newspaper comic strips.
Untitled photo, possibly related to: Children reading Sunday papers, Rustan brothers' farm near Dickens, Iowa. Note convenience of running water in background. This farm was formerly owner operated but they are now tenants of Metropolitan Life. Photo by Russell Lee, 1936. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a21335

Reading Comics: See You in the Funny Pages

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Images of people reading are sprinkled throughout the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information Collection, and one delightful subset features children enjoying comics. The different locations noted in the captions of the photos featured in this post — Illinois, New Mexico, Alabama, and Iowa, to name a few — show how ubiquitous this entertainment was in the mid-20th century.

The following photographs make a strong case that reading can be a social endeavor, at least when the content is designed to make you chuckle. Enjoy these photographs of families and friends gathered together in the pursuit of laughter.

Family of four sits on sofa reading comics. Two formal portraits and drinking implements sit on coffee table in foreground.
On a Sunday afternoon at home “Red” and his wife read the comics to their children and puppy whose name is “Blitz.” Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jack Delano, 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d03786
Four boys gather around and view what appears to be a comic book.
Children of gold miners looking at the comics, Mogollon, New Mexico. Photo by Russell Lee, 1940. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a28955
A boy and a girl, each wearing overalls, sit at table reading newspaper comic strips.
Untitled photo, possibly related to: Children reading Sunday papers, Rustan brothers’ farm near Dickens, Iowa. Note convenience of running water in background. This farm was formerly owner operated but they are now tenants of Metropolitan Life. Photo by Russell Lee, 1936. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a21335
Man sitting outdoors reading comic book with two children.
Montgomery, Alabama. Marvin Johnson, truck driver, reading “funnies” to his two children. Photo by John Vachon, 1943. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d27790

Of course, reading comics can also be a solitary activity. And the looks on the faces of the children in the next three photographs show that viewing comic art can be a serious business, too.

Boy sits in chair, reading Superman comic book.
New York, N.Y. Children’s Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. German refugee child, a devotee of Superman. Photo by Marjory Collins, 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.04108
Little girl sitting on sofa or chair, engrossed in a Superman comic book.
Untitled photo, possibly related to: Butte, Montana. Victor Rauh and one of his children reading a newspaper. Photo by Russell Lee, 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d09345

Boy hunched over comic book, engrossed in reading.
Trampas, New Mexico. Even in this remote Spanish American village, children, like the son of Juan Lopez, the majordomo (mayor) [i.e., steward], read the “funnies.” Photo by John Collier, Jr., 1943. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d25832
Next step: identify which comic art has captured the attention of the folks in these photographs. The easiest to spot are the two “Superman” comic books, but readers with eagle eyes are sure to recognize more!

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Comments (2)

  1. Big smile, Melissa!

  2. THE COMICS ARTICLES ARE AGOOD SCHOOL FOR LEARNING TO WRITE AND READ

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