In I Can't Cover What I Am, I spotlight a collection of comic book covers (of at least ten covers) that follow a specific theme.
Today, in honor of Memorial Day, we take a look at the greatest World War II propaganda comic book covers.
First off, it is notable that the United States went through a very interesting period in the late 1930s/early 1940s where they was a great increase in patriotism, but at the same time, an increase in isolationism. So this was weird for creating superhero characters, as the rest of the world was at war and yet America did not want to be involved but also wanted to embrace patriotic-themed superheroes. It was an odd mix.
Anyhow, the first patriotic hero was the Shield, in Pep Comics #1.
The most notable one, though, was created in 1940, with Captain America in Captain America Comics #1. This cover was notable, though, for the fact that it had Captain America punching out Adolf Hitler.
This was a big break to the general American view of isolationism at the time. Really, the isolationist views of America were, in general, slightly chipped away throughout 1940 and 1941, as anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler sentiment really ratcheted up in the states and a desire to support England in their underdog role in World War II began to become popular in the States.
Anyhow, another notable anti-Hitler cover was Daredevil #1 from early 1941...
Therefore, even before the United States officially entered World War II with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the covers were becoming more and more like pieces of war propaganda. Just check out these two covers in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor...
See what I mean? However, of course, when Pearl Harbor ACTUALLY occurred, comics quickly kicked into high gear with the war propaganda, with Captain America going from fighting saboteurs in the States to fighting actual Nazis and Japanese. Over at Fawcett, they introduced a new super villain named Captain Nazi.
Anyhow, I figure I'll spotlight 20 of my favorite covers. I'll ostensibly count them down, but really, a lot of these covers are fairly equal.
SENSATION COMICS #13
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of World War II caricature covers, because they get super racist, really. However, H.G. Peter managed to avoid most of those issues with this Sensation Comics cover.
CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #37
Really, for many years, THE most important person working for Marvel Comics (well, Timely Comics at the time) was Alex Schomburg. Heck, if you had to put together the 50 most important Marvel Comics creators of ALL-TIME, you might have to make room for Alex Schomburg on that list, as that's just how important he was to the company's bottom line during the 1940s. You can see why on this brilliant Cap action piece.
A simple cover concept by Jack Burnley, but a good one.
WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #6
I loved the way that Fred Ray would get across reverence for the troops without getting too jingoistic.
MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #40
As noted, Alex Schomburg action covers were just stunning. He was so far ahead of most other comic book cover artists of the era that it was like he was on a whole other level.
Wayne Boring and George Roussos
SENSATION COMICS #20
This offbeat H.G. Peter cover was an interesting twist on the typical propaganda of the era. This was just, "Hey, here are some hard-working women working for the war effort."
CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #17
This is a fairly straightforward cover, but C.C. Beck painting it gives it a whole other flair.
MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #46
The problem with Alex Schomburg covers of the era is that so many of them are pretty racist-looking, with how he draws Japanese villains. However, he also drew some amazing covers during this time. A lot of "damsel in distress" covers, of which this is probably the most famous.
Dick Sprang showed the direct effects of the public supporting the war effort.