The Ideas of Patriotism in The Superman Chronicles and The Brinkley Girls
Since the early 20th centaury till this day, comic books have become a predominantly unique medium for American cultural creation and patriotism, making them a fitting subject for the study of American history. We will inspect and analyze the comic strips The Superman Chronicles and Brinkley Girls for how each story expressed patriotism. Not only do comics mirror society’s interests and views, they also often assist in altering society by spreading fresh thoughts and common feelings.
Comics have the tendency to effect and singularly influence our attitude and desires in the real world. These traits are predominantly taken advantage by various comic book authors to distinctly present ideas on the general public. This was primarily actually done to strikingly provide a source of entertainment for people in the United States. They became popular especially between 1930s to 1950s when there was a peculiarly dire need for people to cope with the horrors of World War I and II. Comics notably are also a means to normally describe various social issues through the strips. Almost all comic strips that fairly were substantially introduced in this course for all intents and purposes had some form of message. The comics that we in general addressed in this course engaged in the topic of patriotism. It is a matter of perspective of the audience which help shape the message that the comic strip tells. The reception to the message of the comic strip can vary between person to person. Americans during the Great Depression needed various ways to escape the reality of poverty. Hence why the emergence of the two comic strips were very potent in affirming and growing patriotism in the American public by providing hope for a better future.
The Superman Chronicles Vol 1
The first comic strip we will inspect is “The Superman Chronicles Volumes 1-12”. It has been over eighty years since the introduction of Superman. The character was an instant hit and reached many audiences, especially the younger generation of that time. Superman became a major American cultural icon. The blue and red costume give the character a distinct appearance and it stands out in the pages. The superman we are introduced as an independent figure who is free from society’s restrictions to act on his own abilities and powers. He stands up for the oppressed and is not shy to serve up justice to the criminals. The authors Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster presented a strong character which look after the common people and fights for truth and justice. This was well received by the American public during The Great Depression. They desperately needed a dramatic figure to help them escape the harsh realities of life. The other good thing about Superman was that the character also had an alternate side of this identity. The “secret identity” was Clark Kent, a mild mannered common man who was from the working class. The characterization of a simple common man with extraordinary powers and abilities was set to be an example to the American public during that era. Superman embodied the perfect stand for “Truth,
Justice and the American Way,” this allowed the public, especially the children to view Superman as a role model, while promoting patriotism for the United States.
When we look into the time period of World War II, we see that character was not used entirely to promote war. The creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster worked to avoid putting superman in situations like war and focused more on the issues of daily life and surviving during the time of World War II. One way to interpret this choice of abstaining from war is to believe that Superman does not approve humans squabbling over power and he continues to look after the common people. Superman was shown in many stories battling foreign spies and dictators. But the creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster avoided identifying any of the real time dictators. They were also careful not to mention the cities and places that were affected by the war. They side characters they used, however were somewhat of a parody of the dictators of that time. But there was no name mentioned. In Superman issue #10 (, prior to America’s involvement in the war there was mention of an antagonist Karl Wolff, a Dukalian leader who was a high-ranked member of the Nazi in one the story. But once America joined the war, the creators had to refrain from Superman fighting the Nazis directly. Many people who were fans of Superman, were puzzled by the lack of storyline directly pertaining to the war. When we bring patriotism in this context, we realize that war is very complicated.
Prior to the war, Superman always had higher expectations than the other superheroes at the time. His storylines always distinguished the ‘good vs evil’ and where the good always prevailed. Incorporating Superman in the war would be easy given the amazing powers and abilities he possesses. But that would provide the American public high expectations concerning the real war. It would not be easy to place Superman in the context of the war, but that did not mean that there was a void of Superman’s presence. The writers used Superman as a symbol of hope during the difficult times of the public during that time. Carrying on that purpose, even the radio series about Superman started the show describing Superman as an individual who is constantly fighting “Never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!” This cemented Superman as someone who will always fight for the good while being patriot to the United States. That only guided and uplifted the American public who were unsure about fighting in the war. The fact that they would also fight for the “American Way,” regarding of the role really helped the people during the war.
The Brinkley Girls
Nell Brinkley, famously known as the “Queen of Comics” provided many great work in the early 1900s. Her influence in the comic history is really underrated. Her efforts at a time where women did not work really speaks volumes today when we reflect the stories. Brinkley always drew strong independent women which the general public were not used to. She determined herself to use the platform she had to speak on topics such as feminism and suffrage. Her characters were always beautifully drawn out and were always seen to be liberated to have their own opinions. This movement was very important during that time. Her work on this issue acted as a catalyst for women’s rights in America. It combated the suffrage with increasing American patriotism in people to stand up for women in America. One of her examples is the cartoon “Too Busy” from 1914. In this cartoon, we see a women sitting on chair, who is engrossed in her work and reading while being unfazed by the cupid. Over to the side, we see a list of careers or occupations. This cartoon implied that women are capable to work and be successful on their own. Brinkley’s best work was “The Brinkley Girls.” The main female character in this story who is called as “Golden Eyes” exemplified being a strong and hardworking women after her beloved was sent off to fight in the war. Her impact on the women’s rights in American in the 20th centaury really personifies the ‘American Dream’ and shows light on true American patriotism.
In this essay, we inspected The Superman Chronicles and Brinkley Girls on how they expressed patriotism is their stories. Despite both stories being completely different from each other, they both represented American patriotism to uplift and help the public at that time. These comic stories were really essential for during the Great Depression, Women Suffrage movement, World War I and II. Both stories provide good history lessons for all of us when they are analyzed and that’s what makes them timeless.
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