Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Funnies #3: Invisible Scarlet O’Neil by Russell Stamm

World War II began right in the middle of the golden age of comics (1930s through 1940s) and gave rise to a few new superheroes. Superman first appeared in April 1938, Batman in May 1939, The Flash in January 1941, Green Lantern in July 1940, Al Pratt’s The Atom in October 194, Hawk Man January in 1940, Aquaman in November 1941, Captain Marvel in February 1940 and Captain America in March 194. The very popular Captain Midnight appeared in comic book form in 1941, though he was already a successful radio show, and also appeared in a comic strip beginning in 1942. When America entered the war, most of these superheroes found themselves fighting the forces of evil – Nazi and Japanese spies and, saboteurs or the occasional mad scientist or quisling. They never really got into the real war in Europe or the Pacific, but were revered by their fans nevertheless.

Most people think that Wonder Woman, who first appeared in December 1941, was the only female superhero to emerge during the war, but in fact, the first was Russell Stramm Invisible Scarlet O’Neil. Scarlet hit the superhero scene on June 3, 194o in the Chicago Times and in her first strip she explains how she became invisible:

From: Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

Scarlet didn’t really tackle foreign enemies on US soil; most of her escapades were pretty typical comic strip fare: bullies, thieves, mean people and she especially liked helping children. But occasionally Scarlet’s patriotism would also shine through, as it did on Sunday, March 21, 1943:

From: Invisible Scarlet O'Neil

During her heyday, according to Don Markstein’s Toonopedia, Whitman published two Big Little Books devoted to Scarlet, and one novel when she was joined by other comic strip favorites like Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler.

Invisible Scarlet O’Neil ran from 1941 to 1956.

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