|The cover for a 1940s Airboy|
A while ago, I shared how I had been reading a 1980s series called "Airboy" by Eclipse Comics. These issues were penned by Chuck Dixon, and illustrated by Tim Truman, Stan Woch, and other artists who today are regarded as giants of the comic field. It was, in fact, a sequel series to the original series, which was published in the 1940s. Recently, I discovered the original series online, and began reading them.
For those unaware of Airboy's origins, the young pilot creates a revolutionary plane with the help of a Catholic monk. Then he goes off to help the military defend the United States against Germany and Japan.
|Interior art for 1940s Airboy|
The comics shine a light into the mindset of the times. Japanese fighter pilots are called Japs (when they're not called Yellow or Japanazis). Nearly all are villains.
The Germans are equally dastardly. Service personnel from both countries appear as treacherous and cowardly. Modern people from those countries, or who share that cultural heritage, would likely be offended by everything Airboy or the narrator calls them.
The stories, while entertaining in their simple way, also represent propaganda from an earlier time. Remember, the U.S. base in Pearl Harbor had been attacked. In one day, the country's military had suffered a terrible blow, and thousands of people died. The United States government, now forced to enter World War II, had to recruit soldiers, build new warships, and create all the infrastructure necessary to fight a war spanning the entire globe.
So "Airboy," and publications like it, were thought necessary to rally the troops, convince women to trade homelike for factories, and help children make sense of the new situation.
Still, I'll be the first to admit that they're a little difficult to read, and enjoy as fully as I'd like.