Talk about a comic book in need of some information - there's just not that much around!
Published in 1942 by Street and Smith Publications, Devil Dogs Comics #1 features an action-packed cover showing US Marines battling the Japanese.
Japan, of course, was Public enemy No.1 with a bullet after its so-called sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 9, 1941 that dragged the U.S. into the throes of WW2.
So to capitalize on the fascination with all things anti-Japanese, American publishers (including comic books) and movie-makers made a host of pro-U.S. material to inundate the population with.
Just like today, where we see these news broadcasts of some people burning an American flag and shouting down the Satantic overture of all things non-Muslim... where I bet the majority of the population doesn't feel that way and all we ever see are the 100 or so absolute fanatics desperate for media attention and get it.
Sometimes I wonder if we look at news broadcasts today... the whole wag the dog thing... would we actually notice if the same fanatics keep appearing in different locations protesting different things. Hell... there are professional "Canadian" protestors here in Canada - why not elsewhere?
Back to our comic book...
Look at that cover! Check out the U.S. Ranger on the top left! He's got a rifle pressed up against a Japanese soldier.
He's already shot the Japanese soldier! Yes! Check out the right hand of the Japanese soldier - it's letting go of a machete because he's probably just been shot in the neck or head.
How about the dead or wounded Japanese soldier in the bottom left corner, with blood streaming down his face from a forehead wound or two—there are two bullet holes in the helmet after all.
How about the single arm draped around a rock just above the flag?
How about that limp erectile-dysfunctional Japanese flag? Spent.
It's action galore with action and gore. Ahh, it's a good day to be an American!
I know it sounds like I am sarcastically ripping the Americans for the rah-rahness of the war against Japan, but that's what propaganda is supposed to do.
It's like the movie Rambo... how the hell does ONE guy do that much damage? If he could do that in a couple of days, how much damage did he do in Vietnam? The U.S. should have won the Vietnam War... sorry, Vietnam Conflict. That's right... the U.S. has never lost a war. Though I'd say it did during it's Civil War, the War of 1812 when it tried to attack British interests in what would later be known as Canada, and of course, we won't mention the war against illiteracy, drugs or poverty. Okay, I'm ripping them here.
Propaganda... if every battle was a simple as the comic books made them out to be, then there was no reason for that war to have continued past 1942 into 1943, 1944 and 1945. Sorry Bing, I don't think you'll be home for Christmas.
But that's what propaganda is supposed to do. It's supposed to rally the people back home and the troops overseas, to, if not plant false hope, then to inspire real hope.
I will give props to the creators of this comic book, however.
Although Devil Dogs #1 did describe the splashy adventures of the US against the Japanese, and does indeed show Japanese getting their ass handed to them by the Americans, and while the propaganda describes the U.S. as being an unstoppable machine destined to defeat the Japanese, at least they did not physically describe the Japanese as being sub-human, as so many of the cartoons and comic books of the day did.
There's no thick-glasses, or buck teeth on the Japanese soldiers being killed on the cover of Devil Dogs Comics #1. There's no Japanese stereotype being evoked. There's just the simple propaganda of the 'good guys' taking it to the 'bad guys'.
Comic Book data:
Cover by Jack Binder - guessed at, but likely considering he did the interior art.
Featuring eight stories for a dime:
Cover Story: Specialists In Quick Death, a story of the United States Marines, a 19-page tale written by Walter Gibson, with pencil and inks by Jack Binder.
One page musical score of The Marines Hymn;
Five page typeset text article (with a few drawings to accompany it): What It Means To Be A U.S. Marine. Jack Binder proves the art.
Invasion Of The Belgian Coast - 24 pages, Writer: Walter Gibson; art by Jack Binder. It stars Red Rogers of the Rangers.
The Coming Of The Boy Rangers - eight pages, featuring the introduction of the Boy Rangers: Randolph Cartwright Swift Jr - Speed; Rocky; Stumpy; and Chris who doesn't have a cool nickname.
Writer: Gibson, Art Binder.
Roger's Rangers - 7 pages
How We Got Alaska - 1 page strip with art by Jack Binder;
The Daring U.S. Sub - 1 page strip with art by Jack Binder.
Now… while the name Jack Binder is probably familiar to comic book history buffs, how many of you recognize the name Walter Gibson?
You should. He created one of the most iconic characters of the 20th century - The Shadow.
You know: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
Or: "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit."
It is assumed that Gibson wrote all the comic book stories for this issue, originally suggesting the title of the book as Rangers.
He wanted a comic featuring stories of the Rangers through all of the wars they had participated in. Devil Dogs incorporates U.S. Army Rangers as well as the U.S. Marine Corps.
Whatever... Devil Dog Comics #1 meant bad news for the Japanese... as well as the publishers, as there never was a Devil Dogs Comics #2.