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Monday, June 4, 2012

1959 Advertising Of The Atomic Age

Here's an advertisement I found in a comic book I purchased last month for $1 at an antique market west of Toronto.

The comic book that contained it is Sugar and Spike #26 from DC Comics, then known as National Comics Publications, Inc. The year was 1959 - December... though the book itself appears to have hit the newsstands on October 22 of that year, as evidenced by an ink stamp placed on the cover atop Sugar's hair.

Take a close look at the advertisement up above. I glanced over it about four times - laughing at the title - before I decided to actually read it.

To me, who was born in the 1960s, and having lived the vast majority of my life here in Canada with nuclear reactors manufacturing a lot of our electrical power, powering our medical machines and creating medicines et al, an ad discussing the atom as the 'servant of man' was not riveting infotainment.

Except that I thought it curious that the power of the atom was being furthered in a comic book - and a comic book that was definitely geared toward the younger crowd a la Sugar and Spike, a book involving two babies who understand each other but don't understand their parents (and vice versa) and their adventures with this strange new world called 'life' that they have been thrust into. I know Chester Brown (of Yummy Fur fame) tried to do something similar back in the the 2000s.

So  I read it... and lo and behold... there's a panel dedicated to Japan... and immediately below it, one for Canada. Ahhhh, kismet!

I think it is so bloody funny that the US National Social Welfare Assembly, and the Coordinating Organization For National Health,Welfare and Recreation agencies of the U.S.could only come up with Japan using atomic power to benefit the silkworm/silk industry. It was big in Japan at one time, but really? That was the best Japan could come up with - silk?  Of course not.

That was the best these U.S. agencies could come up with (or perhaps, the best their ad agency could).

For Canada, apparently we are using the power of the atom to create fertilizer to grow plants faster. No sh!t!

The ad also says that there is some great medical research being done in West Germany, Rio De Janeiro and Nigeria due to the awesome power of the radio-isotope, which is now spelled in 2012 as one word, no hyphen.

What is a radioisotope? It's a chemical element that has an unstable nucleus and emits radiation during its decay to a stable form. Radioisotopes have important uses in medical diagnosis, treatment, and research.

The benefits to these countries - apparently in 1959, Rio De Janeiro was thought to be a country by these US agencies and the advertising committee. It never was. It's a city in Brazil! - is due to the great work of the Oak Ridge atomic energy installation.

Oak Ridge? Like the Oak Ridge Boys? Apparently, yes! Both are from Tennessee, though that bit of information was not in the comic book ad.

Now... while I had no clue before I began researching this - yes, I do research these blog articles! - I have discovered that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory - mentioned in the comic book ad - played a key role in the atomic blasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Oak Ridge labs during the war was known as Clinton Laboratories

When a uranium-fueled atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, its atomic might was derived from the uranium output of Oak Ridge's Y-12 and K-25 nuclear plants. Three days later, when a plutonium-fueled bomb struck Nagasaki, the destruction was wrought by plutonium from somewhere else—but was based on Clinton Laboratories' radiochemical groundwork.

Isn't that a coincidence?! This started out as me making fun of an ad in a 1950s comic book. 

Oh well.... since no one is holding grudges, after the war, the lab began the manufacture of radioisotopes, and like the advertisement above suggests, a lot of countries (and a city) are using materials manufactured by the Oak Ridge Labs. In fact, by 1950, there were nearly 20,000 shipments that year of some 60 different isotopes going out around the world to friendly nations.

Since then, the facility has undergone some radical changes, as it is now home to two of the world’s most advanced neutron scattering research facilities: the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) built in 1965, and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) built in 2005.

Here's a photo of the HFIR:

Here's a photo of the SNS:

Regardless of its role in WWII, I have no quarrel with the work done there now. None at all. It's probably saved the life of somebody I know, and certainly the life of many people I don't know. So... good on them.

I just wanted to show you an old advertisement involving Japan (and Canada).

Bloody kismet.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Well, that's a pretty cool comic... But, when I see that price (only a stinking dollar!!!???) Then I am glad I sold off all my baseball and football card and comic collections in the 80's and traded them for gold and silver.
    That comic, seems to me, is a stinking steal for a dollar!.... But, then again, if they could sell it for $50, they would, wouldn't they?

  2. The comic is actually quite funny! It was sold for $1 because the people selling had no clue as to its real value.
    My book value (per a 2010 Overstreet Price Guide) is $26 for a copy in Good condition, which is about as low as it gets, excluding Poor (coverless).
    So... even if I sold it, I would get anywhere between $3 to $10 for it).
    It's a shame... few and far between are the comics made nowadays just for kids.