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Saturday, April 26, 2014

World War 2 American Cartoons Versus Japan - I

Although not a comic book this time, I thought I would show you a little seen Donald Duck cartoon from 1944 entitled Commando Duck, in which the little white duck takes on the Japanese army when ordered to go on a one-duck mission to wipe out a Japanese airfield on a remote Pacific Island.

Produced by Walt Disney who also put out the more famous Donald Duck cartoon Der Fuerher's Face, in this cartoon we rarely see the Japanese enemy in this cartoon... but when we do, he's the typical moon-face Japanese soldier with the black grasses, I mean glasses with that horrible Japanese accent when he speaks Engrish for the benefit of the Yankee Doodle audience in the movie theater.

There's a few good laughs of American propaganda, what with two Japanese soldiers going to ridiculous lengths in bowing to one another in apology--or is it ridiculous? It seems to me that the Disney animators pegged this stereotype perfectly even by 2014 standards.

There is one nasty joke where the Japanese soldiers are looking to shoot Donald Duck, but are instead ordered to follow the Japanese custom on only shooting an enemy soldier in the back.

And yet... it's a decent enough cartoon, with no one using any racial slang such as "Nips". But... I bet someone will consider it offensive nowadays rather than just accept it as a message from the past about how media was used as propaganda during WWII.

Presented for your (dis)approval is the cartoon: Commando Duck

Personally, I didn't find anything so terrible about the film other than the fact that Donald Duck cartoons aren't even as close to being as funny as Daffy Duck cartoons. Conversely, Daffy Duck comic books shouldn't even occupy the same shelf space as a Donald Duck comic book written and drawn by Carl Barks or Jack Hannah or William Van Horn or Don Rosa... to name just a few great Donald Duck comic book creators.

I suppose I should examine my comic book archives to see if there's anything propaganda-ish towards the Japanese via Donald Duck comic books. I doubt there is... but maybe I have something that comes close... At least one and maybe two stories... Next week... so now I have to go through 35,000 comics looking for two stories I have pictured in my mind.

Andrew Joseph

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