Academic journal article Military Review

Comics and Conflict: Patriotism and Propaganda from WWII through Operation Iraqi Freedom

Academic journal article Military Review

Comics and Conflict: Patriotism and Propaganda from WWII through Operation Iraqi Freedom

Article excerpt

COMICS AND CONFLICT: Patriotism and Propaganda from WWII through Operation Iraqi Freedom

Cord A. Scott. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2014, 224 pages

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Comics and Conflict begins with a brief recapitulation of the history of the comics from the Gilded Age (the late nineteenth century). Then it concentrates on war comics, a category distinct from other subgenres such as action-hero or talking animal comics. This type of comic arose in the World War II era and continues to the present day--or as close as a scholarly work by a scholarly press can get--to the Nation's disillusionment in the aftermath of the Iraq venture. Scott's periodization is the not standard used in general American history--the chapters after World War II span respectively 1945-62, 1962-1991, 19912001, 2001-2003, and 2003-2010--but the coverage is comprehensive and appropriate to the topic.

One may wonder why anyone would bother writing a history of war comics. Perhaps it is because American forces read them--and even have special series available only at military facilities. And the services, as well as civilian institutions, still use cartoons and comic books as training devices.

More to the point, as the author argues so ably in this short but tight work, comics are like movies and other popular media in that they reflect not only current events but popular perceptions. Specifically, the "good war" comics were much more patriotic and harmonious than, say, the storylines of the Vietnam era. There is an ebb and flow that corresponds to the fluctuating public support for American military ventures, and the comics reflect the mood.

In fact, like other media, they may even play a role in defining that mood. …

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