History

Death Trap in Iran!

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Jingoist 1952 comic book worth reconsidering in a modern context, or, as Boing-Boing puts it, "1952 Comic Predicts Bush/Cheney Iran Policy."

A bit of a stretch, maybe, but an extraordinary cultural document all the same. "Take it up with Washington, kiddo! And see how far you get!" I know what you mean, Agent Trask!

Here's the cover to the comic book that Boing-Boing excerpts, T-Man: World Wide Crime-Buster #3. It avers that it's "an authentic case based on the files of the U.S Treasury Department!" God help us all, I almost believe them.

[UPDATE: The honor of early '50s U.S. treasury agents in comic books is saved! While this is indeed the genuine page, comment thread skeptics were correct there was a hidden plot twist—that wasn't Trask himself, but a commie double! I looked up Trask in some of my comic book histories, and all was revealed in the nifty book Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W. Wright. And god bless Google books for the page link. I had read Wright's book when it was new, and goodness knows how I had forgotten the detail that it was a commie spy who threw the pig at the Iranian diplomat. Apologies for traducing Trask–he was a good liberal Cold Warrior, not a sinister pirate.]

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  1. And here’s what actually happened then:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax

  2. What about a link to the rest of that comic?
    Was Trask the hero?

  3. Yes, Trask was the hero. (See the cover link.) I don’t know of any online source for every page of the comic. If anyone finds out, pls. lay it out….

  4. Hero?
    But, but, but it makes no sense!
    I see the cover, but why is he acting like that?
    Was that maybe an impostor?

    Some comic book geek, please help us out!

    (BTW, yesterday I went to one of the Kwik-E-Marts they set up for the Simpsons movie promo.
    3 big disappointments:
    No Duff beer
    No Krusty O’s
    No Radioactive Man comic books

    Still looked pretty cool.)

  5. HN—I am reasonably familiar with the general tone and style of this type of comic from this era, though not, as I recall, Trask specifically, so I don’t THINK there is any weird twist to it—I think he’s explaining himself right there: Why pay for the oil when we can just control it? But if anyone has the whole comic and can shed any different light on the context..

  6. highnumber, they published raidoactive man for years. it was very much a real comic, albeit simpsons inspired

  7. Trask is ur-Little Green Footballs. And a troll.

  8. I like how treasury agents have little piglet-grenades to carry around with them. I hope air marshalls can get the little bacon-bomblets.

  9. All you need to do is stab them in the taint with a pork-spork…

  10. I don’t buy it. I say this is a hoax. More specifically, I think somebody relettered the original comic. I can’t imagine an American government agent so blatantly portrayed as the villain in a comic from the 1950s.

  11. I agree 100%. This is an obvious fake. People want to believe, so they overlook the preposterous notion that a US government agent in a 50’s comic would state it was US policy to steal oil. Give me a break. This comic was “discovered” by old leftie cartoonist Jay Kinney. Would have been so hard for him to have re-lettered the panels, right?

  12. The lettering looks authentic for comics of that era. A modern jokester would have thrown in a few more gags.

    The dialog isn’t THAT hard to believe as real – after all, American soldiers and secret agents can be forgiven any crime, any moral failing, as long as they do the dirty work of the good ol’ US of fuckin’ A and keep the world’s resources out of people like those dirty Russians.

  13. If it’s relettered you’d still have a hard time explaining why Trask hurls a piglet at the Iranian diplomat guy.

    Since we’re only seeing one page, my leading theory is that we’re seeing “evil Trask” who’s been drugged by the commies in order to queer the deal between the Iranians and the Brits. (Why , O why does the AIOC come to mind?)

    Eventually he’ll get his wits back and truth, justice, the American way, and piggie chucking will win the day.

  14. “I agree 100%. This is an obvious fake. People want to believe, so they overlook the preposterous notion that a US government agent in a 50’s comic would state it was US policy to steal oil.”

    is that really that hard to believe?

  15. So as not to share it with the British?

    I bet there’s a font out there, “hand lettered cartoon”. The original probably had the Iranian diplomat as the impostor whom Trask was showing up.

  16. The original probably had the Iranian diplomat as the impostor whom Trask was showing up.

    By throwing a pig at him?

  17. Yeah! Cool update!

    I was almost right in my guess that he was drugged by the commies.

  18. This comic was “discovered” by old leftie cartoonist Jay Kinney.

    Kinney is pretty conservative these days.

  19. Another day, another “UPDATE: Oops, this item was completely wrong because we actually don’t look into stories when people send us stuff.” from BoingBoing.

    Well, if they bother to update this one.

  20. Eric—to be fair to BoingBoing, nothing in their post relied on being aware of any plot twist in the full story or Trask being a good guy or bad guy in the page—the joke was merely that “commie double Trask” was voicing what Kinney comedically referred to as a precursor to CURRENT foreign policy. It did NOT state that the comic was a sincere experession of ACTUAL US TREASURY policy circa 1952, tho I sort of implied it in my own post, which is why I was certainly obligated to update it.

  21. That’s fantastic. Honestly.

  22. “The original probably had the Iranian diplomat as the impostor whom Trask was showing up.”

    “By throwing a pig at him?”

    Can you think of a better way?

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