The Talking-Eye Television: Not A Prediction – But A Preview! (1948)

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The Time – Tomorrow.

Dad – It’s the emergency signal!

Television Will CHANGE Your Future

Television Will CHANGE Your Future, 1948

In this 1948 DC comic, a benevolent Eye-In-The-Sky presented a stark contrast to George Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984. Orwell completed his classic in 1948 – it was a warning to the future based on his observations of British propaganda and the government use of communication technologies during that time.

In 2017, ‘He who owns the Internet, Owns minds.’

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If an A-Bomb Falls… Will You Know What to Do?

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If An A-Bomb Falls was an 8-page Instructional comic published in 1951 (see comic pages below). It is in the public domain and can also be viewed on-line at various sites like Archive.org. Summary from My Comic Shop: “If an A Bomb Falls… Will You Know What to Do? (1951), published by Commercial Comics. 8 pages, full color, standard comic book dimensions, all newsprint, no cover price. This promotional educational giveaway comic book describes what to do in the event of an atomic blast. Includes: 1) How important it is to know the signals of an impending atomic attack; 2) The meaning of the different tones of air raid sirens; 3) What to do if you are attacked without warning ; 4) How to react to the brilliant flash of an atomic explosion; 5) How to find the safest place in your home; 6) The equipment you need for a home safety and emergency kit; 7) How to store a good supply of canned goods and water for extended sheltering; 8) How to prepare for an attack if you have advance warning How to seek protection from an impending attack; 9) Remembering to keep calm to stifle panic during an attack ; 10) How people caught outdoors will suffer the greatest casualties; 11) What to do if you are on a car, bus, or train during an attack; 12) How the worst danger from atomic attack is radiation in the air and water; and 13) How to decontaminate yourself if you think you have been exposed to radioactive dust or mist. The back cover features a chart showing the number of deaths and the number of injured people that can be projected if an A-bomb explodes in a populated area.” Additional pages below from Ethan Persoff.

The H-Bomb and You was an educational 16-page comic published by the government in 1954. Page #1 reproduced below from Ethan Persoff. We’ll take a closer look at what these educational comics tell us about the era in the future.

via SpyVibe: COMICS WEEK: COLD WAR MATERIALS

A Tale Of Sad Martian Children, A Loving Dad, And A Jolly King Elf

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Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - Dell Comics 1966Yes, something is the matter with the children on Mars.

Matian Sleep Spray Technology

*Check out the Martian Sleep Spray technology.

There is only one thing KMAR can possibly do…

Get Him, TORS!

You’ll have to tune in to Captain Video’s Secret Sanctum to read all about it: click here.

(h/t to Tim O’Brien at Pop Culture: 1964 for the absolutely divine inspiration)

Are you Mad About MAD Mag? Issue #1 Is On Auction This Weekend @heritageauction

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For decades nothing has said American satire like MAD magazine. If you’re one of those folks who’s a fan/collector of the mag, and you’ve stashed away that extra change over time hoping to get that elusive first issue, you have a chance this weekend.

Mad #1 (EC, 1952)

Mad #1 (EC, 1952)

Heritage Auctions is offering MAD #1 (EC, 1952) for bids until Sunday, November 16 at 04:00 PM CT. This historic issue features the top story and cover by Harvey Kurtzman. With inside art by Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, John Severin, and Bill Elder ~ Legends All. The go-to collector’s reference, Overstreet 2014, values the comic at $834.00. The current leading bid is $332.60 (with the Buyer’s Premium). So, it looks like someone may have a great chance to get a good deal on this piece of mid-century print history.

Click here to get to the page.

Fare Thee Well, Al Feldstein

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Al Feldstein by Michael Netzer

Al Feldstein by Michael Netzer

The great Al Feldstein crossed the great divide this week – Tuesday, 29 April – he was 88.

His most enduring legacy will perhaps be that centerpiece of American satire, Mad magazine. After Feldstein took the helm in 1956 the magazine rocketed upwards and became one of the most popular periodicals in the nation. He captained the ship for twenty-nine years. While Feldstein’s success with Mad magazine is certainly worth the acclaim, his earlier work with EC Comics should not go unrecognized. From 1948 until 1955, he was prolific as writer, illustrator, and editor for this highly poignant line:

As EC’s editor, Feldstein created a literate line, balancing his genre tales with potent graphic stories probing the underbelly of American life. In creating stories around such topics as racial prejudice, rape, domestic violence, police brutality, drug addiction and child abuse, he succeeded in addressing problems and issues which the 1950s radio, motion picture and television industries were too timid to dramatize.
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Below is the cover of Panic #2 issued 1 April 1954. The dangerous looking boy is playing with a ‘Junior Kem-Kit For the Budding Scientist.’ In the 1950s atomic everything was in vogue – in 1951-52 Gilbert produced the ‘Atomic Energy Lab’ that included four types of uranium ore. Also in the ’50s Chemcraft produced the ‘Porter Atomic Energy Kit’ that included a vial of uranium ore, a vial that contained a ‘uranium chemical’ and a ‘screen’ of radium. Was Feldstien the only person at the time who recognized the bizarre nature of such things? Be that as it may – his illustration is one that we can all relate to today.

Fare thee well, Mr. Feldstein – you done good.

Panic #2 - 1 April 1954

Panic #2 – 1 April 1954 – Illustration: Al Feldstein

In Which A Mouse, A Rabbit, And A Cat, Become Atomic Superheroes

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During the 1950s Charlton Comics was just one of the many small, unremarkable comic book publishers. They had a reputation for low-budget production and the extremely low page rates they payed to their artists and writers. The first and most successful superhero series from Charlton Comics was a pioneer of the funny animal comic genre, Atomic Mouse. Atomic Mouse was created by the then in-house editor Al Fago – the first issue was released in March, 1953.

Following the relative success of Atomic Mouse, Fago introduced Atomic Rabbit in 1955. In 1957, the third of Charlton’s atomic animals was introduced named Atom The Cat. This character was morphed in issue #9 of the series Tom Cat after Tom mutated from exposure to radiation emitted out of a nuclear reactor. Maurice Whitman is the artist who brought Atom to life.

All three atomic animal comics are considered children’s classics. They are interesting examples of the atomic era – while all the characters are mutations from exposure to nuclear materials, their fates are not marred by horror but rather they become superheroes with superpowers. This must have been a comforting message to the children who enjoyed the adventures of these charming little creatures.

Atomic Mouse v1 #1- March 1953

Atomic Mouse  v1 #1 – Charlton Comics, March 1953 (Illustrator: Al Fago)

Atomic Mouse took magic pills called U-235 given to him by by Professor Invento. The pills granted him super powers such as super strength, speed, and flight which he used to protect the citizens of Mouseville. His arch enemy was Count Gatto (Gatto is Spanish for cat) and his inept sidekick, Shadow.
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Graphic via CB+ – Entire issue available to read and download here.

Atomic Rabbit v1 #3 - March 1956

Atomic Rabbit  v1 #3 – Charlton Comics, March 1956 (Illustrator: Al Fago)

The Atomic Rabbit/Bunny gained superpowers when he ate U-235 carrots. His powers include flight and super strength which he used to protect the citizens of Rabbitville from Atomic Rabbit’s nemesis, the evil Sly Fox and his two kids.
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Graphic via CB+ – Entire issue available to read and download here.

Atom the Cat v1 #9 - October 1957

Atom the Cat  v1 #9 – Charlton Comics, October 1957 (Illustrator: Maurice Whitman)

Originally started as a regular guy called Tom Cat. When the titular character absorbed atomic rays from a nuclear reactor, he was mutated and acquired super powers. The scientists responsible for the reactor gave him a cape and convinced Tom to work for his country and the world, becoming the superhero Atom the Cat. Atom the Cat maintains his powers by eating fresh fish.
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Graphic via CB+ – Entire issue available to read and download here.

Surviving An A-Bomb Or An H-Bomb Blast – These Comics Show You How

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On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. After the initial shock, President Truman and the United States government put the entire nation on high alert – the Cold War had begun. Americans began to question their own safety. During the 1950s the federal and state governments put a lot of effort into producing information that was intended not only to teach the public about emergency preparedness and survival, but also to assuage the fears and hopelessness associated with the thought of total annihilation.

Below are a few government publications that were printed in the 1950s as part of that propaganda campaign. They are available for complete viewing and download online – if you are interested in further viewing of any of them just click the title and you will be taken to either The Digital Comic Museum or The Government Comics Collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln web site.

First off, the icon of the atomic era – often thought of as somewhat laughable and naive by today’s standards, Bert The Turtle reassured children and adults alike that one could find protection in the event of an atomic blast.

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover (1951)

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover Civil Defense Pamplet

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover Civil Defense Pamphlet

Bert The Turtle: And This Is Very Important

Bert The Turtle: The bomb might come without any warning!

Do It Instantly - Don't Stand And Look

Do It Instantly – Don’t Stand And Look. Duck And Cover!

Next is an adult oriented publication:

Many people believe that there is no defense against the atom bomb. Let us look in at a community meeting where Mr. Reed, a civil defense authority, is going to explain that there is a defense and will show us what to do in case of an atomic bomb attack.

If An ‘A’ Bomb Falls (1951)

Cover Illustration: If An A-Bomb Falls

Cover Illustration: If An A-Bomb Falls

A 1951 Lesson About Radioactivity

A 1951 Lesson About Radioactivity

Below is a publication geared at youth. It’s an overall emergency preparedness comic that deals with both natural and wartime disasters. It includes a crossword puzzle, a disaster quiz, and a glossary of ‘civil defense terms’ which mostly deal with the atomic bomb. The cover art features Li’l Abner and is signed Al Capp. It includes an extended dream sequence originating in a bomb shelter.

Operation Survival (c1957)

Cover: Operation Survival - Art By Al Capp (c1957)

Cover: Operation Survival – Art By Al Capp (c1957)

Operation Survival: Gloassary Of Terms

Operation Survival: Glossary Of Terms

And the last in this post – a pamphlet issued by the state of Maryland and endorsed by the then governor, Theodore R. McKeldin. This one discusses the civil defense procedures for surviving the power of the H-Bomb. Like the adult oriented, ‘If An A-Bomb Falls,’ this comic is meant to reassure the citizens that survival is indeed possible – it is intended for high-school age students.

The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Cover: The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Cover: The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Students are shown a film demonstrating the power of the H-Bomb.

Students are shown a film demonstrating the power of the H-Bomb. Johnny the student is impressed and questions any possibility of survival. The teacher goes on to reassure him that ‘…no matter how powerful a weapon seemed at first, ways were always found to offset the effects and survive.’

The Bottom Line: Get Used To The Threat Of War

And The Bottom Line: ‘…Get Used To The Threat Of War As A New Way Of Life.’

Some things never change.