February 19, 2018
COLD WAR COMIC STRIPS
Classic newspaper comic strips are one of my earliest passions. Like many kids, I eagerly awaited the Sunday funnies each week, clipped out my favorite strips, and went to school each morning with a Snoopy lunch box. Everything about the world of comics was fascinating to me; I loved the experience of reading over the gags, getting to know the characters as friends, and then studying the artwork closely. I'll never forget the day my pal Chance Browne (Hi and Lois) brought me the first Hagar paperback. The strip became a life-long favorite. But what really blew me away was the realization that people drew comics for living! I was, and remain, hooked. I did publish cartoons in national magazines earlier in my career, but I've devoted even more time to teaching comic art to kids. I also got to collaborate with Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) on a biographical project, which became Mort Walker Conversations in 2005. I have a new Mort Walker eBook coming out soon, so please stay tuned! Putting on my Spy Vibe glasses (sunglasses, I think...like Marcello Mastroianni wore in The 10th Victim), it's also interesting to see how comics through the ages have reflected the culture and times. By examining themes that appear, we can really get a sense of what both interested and concerned people. Here are a few examples of hot topics from the Cold War that found their way into the words and pictures of Johnny Hart (B.C.) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts). Johnny Hart created his prehistoric strip in 1958, and one of his main characters was the thinking-caveman's man; he had a knack for thinking up advanced plans for unknown technology. In the first strip below, from a 1968 compilation, he imagines a rocket... maybe a missile, which leads him to the dark conclusion of a nuclear explosion and mushroom cloud. "The heck with ideas!" he says, storming away. Also from the 1968 book, the second strip uses the traditional Dick and Jane storybook pattern to comment on the Berlin Wall. Charles Schulz created Peanuts in 1950 (same year as Walker's Beetle Bailey debut), and he famously channeled his own insecurities, imagination, and observations through Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends. In the strip below from 1954, Schulz demonstrates how kids can normalize even the worst nightmares through play, as his characters act out an H-Bomb test- within one year of Russia's first hydrogen-bomb test. Their naïveté also reflects the innocence of the "duck and cover" attitude of the era. I have separated the four panels for easy viewing, but do check out his original flow of line in the original art (below). For related Spy Vibe posts, check out: Mort Walker Celebration, Mid-Century Modern Schulz, Beetle Bailey in Berlin, Mort Walker's James Bomb, Comics Week: Archie, Cold War Archie, Archie: Man From Riverdale, Cold War Materials, Atomic Art, Spyman, Jimmy Olson: Agent Double 5, 1966 PEP Spies. Enjoy!
Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Thunderball Event, Mission to India, Mort Walker Celebration, Peter Wyngarde Celebration, Batman 66 Exhibit, Prisoner Fifty Event, Ian Fleming Publications 2017-2018, Interview: Ed Hulse Pulp, Avengers Audio Drama, Interview: Callan At 50, Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private Eyes, TWA Returns, Spy Vibe Radio 8, Interview: Ryan Heshka, Mid-Century Modern Schulz, Agent Werewolf, Mata Hair Exhibit, Johnny Sokko 50th, Interview: Trina Robbins, Eddie Izzard, The Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50th, Hugh Hefner R.I.P., Jack Good R.I.P., Interview: Shaken Not Stirred, Callan 50th, Spy Vibe Radio 7, The Prisoner 50th Event, Spy-Fi Event, Kaho Aso 007, Two Million, Bo Diddley, Carnaby Pop, Le Carre Events, Billy Bragg Skiffle, Elvis 68, Jack Kirby The Prisoner, Casino Royale Concert, Review: The Prisoner Vol 2, Interview: The Prisoner Essential Guide, Maud Russell Mottisfont, Spy Vibe Radio 4, Batman Gallants, Adam West R.I.P., Village Triangle, Roger Moore R.I.P., Spy Vibe Radio 3, Sgt Pepper 50th, Satanik Kriminal OST, 60s Overdrive, Make Love in London, Spy Vibe Radio 2, Spy Vibe Radio 1, James Bond Strips, Propaganda Mabuse, Interview: Police Surgeon, XTC Avengers, 1966 Pep Spies, Batman Book Interview, Exclusive Fleming Interview, Avengers Comic Strips, Robert Vaughn RIP, UNCLE Fashions, Thunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film Guide, Lost Avengers Found, The Callan File, Mission Impossible 50th, Green Hornet 50th, Star Trek 50th, Portmeirion Photography 1, Filming the Prisoner, Gaiman McGinnins Project, Ian Fleming Grave, Revolver at 50, Karen Romanko Interview, Mod Tales 2, Umbrella Man: Patrick Macnee, New Beatles Film, The Curious Camera, Esterel Fashion 1966, Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview, 007 Tribute Covers, The Phantom Avon novels return, Ian Fleming Festival, Argoman Design, Sylvia Anderson R.I.P., Ken Adam R.I.P., George Martin R.I.P., The New Avengers Comics, The Phantom at 80, 007 Manga, Avengerworld Book, Diana Rigg Auto Show, The Prisoner Audio Drama Review.