Hey Citizens! Comics!

The University of Nebraska has posted an online compilation, with free downloads, of government-sponsored comics and illustrated pamphlets. Available at contentdm.unl.edu/cdm4/browse.php? CISOROOT=/comics, the selection is bursting with both comedic kitsch and sobering insight into the state’s view of its role in citizens’ lives.

Our government has expended its (our) resources on child-level instruction about poisons, the dangers of both sugar and fire (in different comics), and how sad it will be for your house servant if you don’t pay her Social Security taxes. We have been given images of a marine shooting a flamethrower at an octopus with Tojo’s head and of “Mr. Civil Defense” warning a mayor that he has a “pretty town” but lots of bad things might happen to it.

There are some famous faces here: Spider-Man, Dennis the Menace, and Li’l Abner were all drafted as propaganda agents, turning this joyous art form into a tool of a state that apparently believes its responsibilities are limitless.—Brian Doherty

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