Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Funnies #6: Comics for Defense

One of the ways that the government financed World War II was by selling war bonds.  Beginning in December 1942, a series of eight war bond drives began, the last one held in December 1945.  Advertising for the sale of war bonds was donated and, when it was all over, more than $156 billion was raised in the 8 bonds drives held, despite the fact that money was so tight for the average citizen.  
To encourage already strapped people to buy war bonds, the government employed all kinds of publicity.  Movie stars, radio stars, singing stars and sports stars were all enlisted to help, often appearing at massive rallies or sporting events during bond drives.

Left: a bond drive on Wall Street
Center: 1943 three day Cavalcade of Stars bond drive
(how many stars do you recognize?)
Right: 1943 Brooklyn Dogers war bond honor card

Kids were also encouraged to do their bit for the war and to buy bonds at school.  But how do you get kids to part with their hard won nickels and dimes?  One way was by having some of their favorite comic book/scomic strip characters sound the appeal.  And these characters all got into the swing of it, as you can see here:

Batman, Superman and a host of other superheroes, as well as
Willie and Joe by Bill Mauldin, a particular favorite comic strip
during the war

Jane Arden was a reporter like Lois Lane and Brenda Star
who was involved in the war from the very beginning
Even Santa was enlisted to sell war bonds to children:

Coming Attractions: Walt Disney and friends.


  1. The Santa artwork is lovely and I also like the paper dolls. I was born in 1948 and remember my parents talking about war bonds and ration books. They also used to talk about the Anderson shelter that Dad dug in the back garden. Mum refused to go in it when it rained because the mattress used to float on top of the water! My brother is older than me, and he can remember sleeping in the shelter during the bombing. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been.

  2. Great post. There are whole books which discuss comics during WWII.

  3. Barbara, I like the Santa artwork and paper dolls, too. I used to love playing with paper dolls when I was a kid. I can't imagine how terrible the war must have been either, but those Anderson shelters, even though they were always wet, seemed to work pretty well. Thanks for sharing your family's story about theirs. I always think of Noel Streatfeild's The Children of Primrose Lane and Anderson shelters and how they always used it as a sort of clubhouse.

    Zohar, thanks for your comment. I love the comics from the war and have a whole collection of strips from various newspapers from that time, as well as an old article on Superman's author published in Germany. I should do a post on that someday.

    1. What fun to pay a visit to the Primrose Lane clubhouse or the shed at the bottom of Peter’s garden in the Secret Seven books. I had to make do with tree houses and dens in hedges – oh yes and the hut in the apple orchard. The 'hut' was a Romany caravan, although I didn't know that then.

  4. Wow! This was fascinating! I knew a little about war bonds- but I had no idea the exent the government went to in order to have people buy them. The comic books were a great idea- but I can't imagine this happening now! Thanks for sharing!