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The Wacky World of Comic Book Propaganda
August 4, 2006 9:59 AM   Subscribe

An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month. The U.S. Army seeks an Arabic-speaking comic book creator. Meanwhile, an Israeli blogger suspects a Kuwaiti company of misusing Marvel and DC comics. These are just the latest incidents in a long-running history of using comic books for propaganda purposes, ranging from Mussolini and Hitler to Captain America vs. the Nazi-affiliated Red Skull to anticommunist comics for Catholic parochial schools to a phony Black Panther comic book created by COINTELPRO to a comic book of the American invasion of Grenada. However, my favorite site of comic book propaganda tends to focus on more innocuous domestic issues such as bicycle safety, USDA nutrition standards, and fighting crack cocaine. (OK, that last issue isn't so innocuous, but comic book propaganda about health & safety issues still generally blows.)
posted by jonp72 (38 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The U.S. Army seeks an Arabic-speaking comic book creator.

Just as long as he's not gay, of course.
posted by clevershark at 10:05 AM on August 4, 2006


An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report ... These are just the latest incidents in a long-running history of using comic books for propaganda purposes.

Did you just call the 9/11 report "propaganda?"

/me heads for the exit
posted by frogan at 10:07 AM on August 4, 2006


Did you just call the 9/11 report "propaganda?"

The comic book is aimed at the "kids, teenagers and adults" unlikely to read the government's nearly 600-page version, says illustrator Ernie Colón.

What's your problem?
posted by prostyle at 10:11 AM on August 4, 2006


Did you just call the 9/11 report "propaganda?"

Umm...no... I just think you have to admit that a comic book has a bit less "truthiness" than a written report by a government commission.
posted by jonp72 at 10:11 AM on August 4, 2006


Mcgruff the Crime Dog was asking around about you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:15 AM on August 4, 2006


I get your drift, jonp72, although you might have been better served saying "political" purposes rather than "propaganda." In any event, this is a terrific collection of links -- thanks!
posted by brain_drain at 10:16 AM on August 4, 2006


Folks,

propaganda \Prop`a*gan"da\, n. :
information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause

I think that, regardless of it's veracity, it's fair to say the 9/11 report is being used as propaganda material. And a comic book version is 100%, not-even-a-bloody-question, *certianly* propaganda... and definitely belongs alongside the other great examples in this post.
posted by zeypher at 10:17 AM on August 4, 2006


I love stuff like this - thanks for stealing my Friday's productivity!
posted by item at 10:19 AM on August 4, 2006


Hey, that's my bike!
posted by unknowncommand at 10:20 AM on August 4, 2006


This is such a good idea.
posted by xammerboy at 10:21 AM on August 4, 2006


Did you just call the 9/11 report "propaganda?"

In the same way I would call United 93 and World Trade Center propaganda, in that they mythologize certain conclusions of the 9/11 report to legitimize the actions of the government-in-power — the commonly held definition and purpose of propaganda — I would agree that calling these particular comic books propaganda is appropriate, and an important consideration, given the impressionability of the target audience.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 AM on August 4, 2006


On reflection, what zeypher said.
posted by brain_drain at 10:23 AM on August 4, 2006


The Patriot is possible my favorite propaganda comic of all time. (previously)
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:23 AM on August 4, 2006


I remember well that USDA/4H comic you linked to. As cheesy as it gets, in that inimitable 1970's government-trying-to-be-hip way. More about it here and here, and you can even get copies here.
posted by TedW at 10:24 AM on August 4, 2006


Look. Up in the sky. Oh sh*t. It IS a plane!
posted by hal9k at 10:28 AM on August 4, 2006


I remember well that USDA/4H comic you linked to.

Don't I know it! I remember the live action version of Mulligan Stew that they used to show on 16 millimeter films when I was in elementary school.
posted by jonp72 at 10:32 AM on August 4, 2006


Look. Up in the sky. Oh sh*t. It IS a plane!

Hooray, it's not too soon anymore!
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:37 AM on August 4, 2006


Somewhat related, but less overtly political, are the free comics made by the Federal Reserve.

But to my mind, Rightwing Comix is the cream of the crop.
posted by whir at 10:50 AM on August 4, 2006


Yeah, the "suspects a Kuwaiti company of misusing Marvel and DC comics" link is full of shit. He's an alarmist xenophobe.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:53 AM on August 4, 2006


The Hitler link leads to the German Propaganda Archive, which is worthy of its own FPP.
posted by LarryC at 10:55 AM on August 4, 2006


There are SNAKES on that PLANE and they were put there by HUSSEIN.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:55 AM on August 4, 2006


My personal favorite is the one where Peter Parker got touched by an older guy as a kid, and then as Spider-Man saved the little kid who's hot redhead babysitter wanted him to play naked Star Wars or something.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:56 AM on August 4, 2006


I'd like to see Jack Chick tracts as faux-Hitchcock movies, myself.
posted by pax digita at 10:56 AM on August 4, 2006


Hm. Comicsthatsuck? Isn't that a bit disingenuous? The Post article already poses the question, "can a topic as massive and sobering as Sept. 11 be dealt with effectively in the pages of a comic book." It goes on to mention Maus and Persepolis as examples of comics that respectfully combine the medium and the message; granted, both are from a very personal perspective.

It remains to be seen if the 9/11 commission report adaptation will be as successful.
posted by Loser at 10:57 AM on August 4, 2006


Screw government propaganda. Go with Alan Moore's new comic adventure... it's porn.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:02 AM on August 4, 2006


Until there's a propagandist comic about cats that look like Hitler, I'm not interested.
posted by gramschmidt at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2006


Dude, thanks very much for Sprocket Man. That made my day.
posted by fixedgear at 11:33 AM on August 4, 2006


From the "misusing Marvel and DC" guy:

I must say, this is not very pleasing, most certainly not when thinking about how the "House of Ideas" went and perverted Captain America a few years ago, turning the adventures of Steve Rogers into a blame-America fest that also insulted the character.

Wow. What a jackass. The post-911 stuff in Captain America was as good as that comic has ever been.

"Cap's" message was that the people attacking us weren't just the mindless bigots that the Administration made them out to be, and that we cannot allow the actions of terrorists to turn us into monsters--this was at least a year or more before Abu Ghraib broke, too.

The best single aspect of Captain America is that he does not simply salute and swallow whatever bullshit he's given by the gov't.

This dude's crying about potential propaganda, when really he's just crying out for more propaganda to his own liking.

Asshole.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:39 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow, that Israeli blogger's post sounds like a bunch of anti-Arab paranoia. He doesn't cite any examples, he just thinks its bad to let dirty Arab hands on his favorite characters. And he demands ideological purity from his comics, even though the marvel universe has always had anti-facist, anti-racism angle.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2006


Big interesting post. Thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:36 PM on August 4, 2006


The best single aspect of Captain America is that he does not simply salute and swallow whatever bullshit he's given by the gov't.
scaryblackdeath, I think I love you. In a straight-as-a-ruler sort of way.
posted by kdar at 1:57 PM on August 4, 2006


"Crack Busters" is sweet. There logo is a crack pipe with a circle and slash through it. The hero is a former canadian football star who hates crack
posted by afu at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the storyline in Chabon's "Kavalier and Clay".
posted by rossination at 2:08 PM on August 4, 2006


An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month.

In unrelated news, today the White House Press Secretary announced that while pressing duties have thus far prevented the president from reading the report of the 9/11 commission, it is on his reading list and he fully expects to have read it by September.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:11 PM on August 4, 2006


An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month

Finally, a book President Bush can finish.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:10 PM on August 4, 2006


What exactly makes an official comic book adaptation "official"?
posted by sour cream at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2006


Meh. I'll wait for Osama Begins.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:47 PM on August 4, 2006


Meh. I'll wait for Osama Begins.

I think they already made that movie ... you know, the one where the Taliban are the good guys?

Oh, wait, there was this other one, too.
posted by frogan at 7:41 PM on August 4, 2006


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