Comics have played a significant in role during wars. Comics represent current events in society so it impossible for them to ignore war. In their own way they have a vital role in helping to educate the young why a war has started and what actually happens.
War also has an effect on comic books when the Second World War began there were 15 million comic books that were being sold each month in the States but after two years of war this figure had increased to 25 million per month. The single biggest purchaser was the US Army as many of the soldiers had become hooked with the storylines about the fight against evil and oppression. During the war many of the Superheroes were seen with helping with the war effort back home, although one or two did go to war.
There were some great story lines explaining why some of them did not go. Clark Kent was so keen to go that his x-ray vision kicked in at his medical and he ended up reading the chart from another room. So, Superman failed to get into the war due to his supposed poor eye sight. One character who did go was Joe Palooka the world heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The Joe Palooka comic strip featured in many papers throughout the world and Joe was seen as the boxing champion, who was incredibly fair and noble.
In 1938 he had actually served in the French Foreign Legion but the real test came in 1940 with their being great debate on whether the States should actually join WW2. Joe was the first American Comic book character to serve in the war and one of his most famous stories came from the 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. Joe was present performing in an exhibition match when falling overboard he came face to face with a German U boat. Still clad in boxing gear Joe subdued the crew and captured the vessel. Joe was followed into active service by Captain America and Wonder Woman among others.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic. The Beano and The Hotspur comics were doing their best to help the war effort by acting as the Allies major propaganda tool. The comics were bright, bold and politically charged. Story lines included rocket-powered jets tearing through German defence lines, and smart children out smarting fierce Nazi soldiers. One of the most entertaining stories involved the heroic deeds of The Beano’s Pansy Potter.
The story line starts with Hitler ordering his pilots to go and destroy the ice ponds to stop the British children skating and having fun. On seeing the pilot Patsy bores a hole into the ice and disappears down it. She then reappears behind the confused pilot and pushes him into the icy water head first, and Patsy escapes using the wings of the German plane as skates.
The Beano appealed to the younger audiences and while the Hotspur appealed to the older readers. While the Beano related stories of the exploding Ostrich egg The Hotspur was informing the readers of the impressive war machines the Allies possessed. Captain Dan Blade was featured in The Hotspur and he flew a plane so powerful that it was undefeated in battles with the German enemy. He even used it to ram into the Nazi war planes destroying aircraft with this bold tactic.
In war times comics play a huge role in lifting not only the moral of the troops but also the moral of the people at home. Although some of the stories can be rather farfetched they are still enough to raise the hopes of many people who have to deal with depressing events virtually every day in war time.