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Saturday, March 22, 2014

WW II American Comics Versus Japan - 2

Here's another bit of U.S. WW II propaganda against the Japanese - one of the evil axis enemy - in comic book form... meant to inspire American patriotism and perhaps a bit of hatred for the bad guys.  

Published by MLJ Magazines Inc., Shield-Wizard Comics ran for 13 issues between 1940-1944 and starred The Shield (also in Pep Comics) and The Wizard (Top-Notch Comics). 

I must admit that I know very little about this company, except that it was the one that brought us Archie Comics (of Betty & Veronica fame). I certainly didn't know anything of these heroes and always thought that Shield-Wizard was one character, as I constantly missed the hyphen. Like Spider-Man or the Sub-Mariner. I assumed, incorrectly that it was The Shield Wizard Comics... as in The Shield and something 'cool comics'.

While I could always recognize a character dressed up in the patriotic red-white-and blue to be The Shield, I always assumed the other costumed hero in the cover (who was always in the background) was his sidekick like Robin was to Batman or Rick Jones was to the Hulk, Captain Marvel (the alien one) and Captain America. That kid sure got around.

Casual research here on the Internet does not show a great deal of information on this comic book, its creators or even the publisher.

Anyhow, The Wizard was just a super-smart guy in a red mask and cloak, while The Shield… he was a guy who discovered a super-strength serum that would work if he applied it to certain parts of his body: Sacrum, Heart, Innervation, Eyes, Lungs, Derma… you'll notice that the first letter of each body part spells out SHIELD.

Anyhow, what I find interesting about The Shield, is that he was created a full 14 months BEFORE Captain America was created for Timely Comics (Marvel Comics)… which should tell you that sometimes art and writing are more important than the actual creation. 

By the way… when Captain America debuted, he had a V-shaped shield… but over accusations of copying The Shield who had one just like that, Captain America's creators debuted the more familiar round shield in issue #2.Yes... that's the real origin of Captain America's round Vibranium shield.

In this cover of Shield-Wizard Comics #13, we have some bondage of an American woman lying prone on a table of some sort with a lot of chest exposed. The bondage cover (any time a woman is held captive in a comic book) was very popular in the day, what with women being considered the weaker sex and always needing rescuing by the stronger man.

For example:
Here in Phantom Lady #23, the hero of the book is held in bondage, wearing a dress that nicely shows off her ample chest. Sex sells. hence the heavy number of hits on this blog of mine. I mean... this is HER book, and she's being help captive by some guy who's coming over to feel her up. That's what I would do if I was him, anyway. He's already a criminal... what does he have to lose? From 1947, Fox Features Syndicate. I'm guessing Jack Kamen art.
Bondage covers, headlights (pointy boobs - present in this cover), and extreme violence (decapitation et al) all led to comic books in the 1950s being considered subversive after massive Senate hearings, with many not being fit for the clean-cut youth of post-war America. It led to a little stamp being placed on comic books though the 21st century declaring the book had passed  something called the Comics Code Authority. In fact, DC Comics and Archie were the last two major publishers to use the code, finally shelving it in January of 2011.

But… this comic cook was from Summer of 1944 and was highly appropriate for the era.

We see The Wizard giving a boot to the chin of a Japanese officer, with The Shield providing a knockout punch to the jaw of a Japanese naval commander…We can assume that the girl was rescued from the clutches of the evil Japanese and that she was finally able to button up her top. Boo!

As a final aside, the writer and artist of many of the stories contained within this book was a gentleman named Bill Vigoda, the brother of actor Abe Vigoda, who starred in the television shows Barney Miller and the spin-off Fish. Bill, born in 1920 and dying in 1973, was Abe's older brother, who was born in 1921 and is still going strong today.

I do know that Abe made an appearance in WWII, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where he was.

As for Bill... he continued to be the main artist on Archie from its inception (I can't substantiate that) through the 1950s. I believe a medical condition kept him out of WW II.

For fun, here's a page from an early 1947, copy of Archie #27... you can see that Veronica has a nice set of pointy boobs and looks like she's 30. Vigoda's signature is over the last "s" in the title's 'madness'.
Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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