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Comic Book Propaganda - Written in Red White and Blue A...

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Written in Red, White, and Blue: A Comparison of Comic Book Propaganda from World War II and September 11 C O R D S C O T T The Shield, G-Man Extraordinary . . . is as much a symbol of loyalty and patriotism as the American Flag itself . . . What is the meaning of the Shield? How did he come to acquire his super human powers? Why does he devote his ideals to our American government? This story is the answer . . .. (Novick 67) It doesn’t matter where you thought you were going today. You’re part of the bomb now. And somewhere in the world a handful of men with famished eyes sit around a radio or a telephone. Twenty minutes, four thousand murders later, they praise God for the blood that stains their hands. Oh God, how could this happen here? We’ve got to be strong—stronger than we’ve ever been. If we lose hope here, bury our faith in this darkness, then nothing else matters. (Cassaday and Rieber 1–5) You’ve got to be taught to be afraid/of people whose eyes are oddly made/and people whose skin is a diff’rent shade/you’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late/before you are six or seven or eight/to hate all the people your relatives hate/ you’ve got to be carefully taught. (Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific ) T HE ATTACK ON THE W ORLD T RADE C ENTER TOWERS ON S EPTEMBER 11, 2001 was instantly compared with another direct attack on U.S. soil: the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. While these two events brought immediate comparison, they also The Journal of Popular Culture , Vol. 40, No. 2, 2007 r 2007, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation r 2007, Blackwell Publishing, Inc. 325
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had monumental differences. Television programming allowed for the constant stream of immediate images and speculation (directed at adults), while those media that relied on print were at a loss. Should anything be said? What can be done to help assuage the feelings of anger and fear? One such attempt to take an entertainment media and have it respond was when Marvel Comic Books halted its suggested story line for the Amazing Spider-Man #36 , and rewrote it. Gone were the normal villains and superhero story lines. Instead was a story of how Spiderman could not deal with the event, and how he could not prevent it. The Amazing Spider-Man #36 featured an all black cover, save for the title (Straczynski and Romita 1–10). It was the first of the medium of comic books that dealt with the emotions surrounding the 9/11 attacks. While that particular issue, and the subsequent issues that honored the firefighters of New York were put to publication, the basic fears, hopes, and characters associated with comic books re- mained. Characters that had been around for several decades were given new direction toward the war on terrorism.
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