It’s almost Inauguration time. While we can all agree that it’s been an incredibly polarizing and tense political season, the government has a lot of responsibilities which affect everyone in this country. This is why so many people are passionate about government; it provides an outlet for ideas and action, be they big or small.
Government and politics also plays a large role in the cultural and artistic world. Much great, and tragic, art has been generated in response to acts of politics and government, from Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, an anti-war painting depicting the bombing of a Basque Country village in Spain by a coalition of the Nazi Germany, Italian Fascists, and Spanish Nationalists, to the empowering image by J. Howard Millier of Rosie the Riveter. The artistry and educational value of comic books have also been used by the government to promote government agendas and by individual artists as a mode of critique and criticism.
Here are a few fun, educational, and entertaining resources and comics with a political tone.
For those interested in the government’s hand in comics….
University of Nebraska Government Comics Digital Collection
Governments worldwide have used comics as an educational and propaganda tool for many decades. From Captain America: Battle of the Energy Drainers to Don’t be a Sugar Daddy to Moon Shiners, the United States Government has commissioned comics on a wide variety of topics, which have been digitized by the University of Nebraska. During several international wars, comic book creators were used to create easily digestible, yet content rich, instructional comics for soldiers, including Will Eisner’s M16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventable Maintenance from 1968. The University of Nebraska Digital Collection contains numerous digitized comics, posters, and other comic ephemera from around the world. Curated by Richard Graham, Associate Professor of University Libraries, the collection grows continuously, so be sure to check back for new content regularly all of which can be downloaded and read for free.
For those history buffs…
.Cartoons for Victory by Warren Bernard
Art as propaganda has been around for centuries, as far back as 515 B.C. While many conjure a negative idea when they think of propaganda, it has the ability to mobilize people, for good or for bad, around a unified cause. In Warren Bernard’s thoroughly researched Cartoons for Victory, readers experience firsthand single page cartoons, advertisements, and comic strips featuring beloved comic book characters during World War II. Learn about Victory Gardens with Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Little Orphan Annie will teach you how to recycle everything, and Donald Duck will encourage you to buy War Bonds. Powerhouse cartoonists like Will Eisner and Charles Addams’ wartime work are highlighted in this oversized tome. Not only do these cartoons provide primary examples of war art, but also speak to the socioeconomic and cultural changes brought about by World War II including the increase of women in the workforce and segregated African American troops.
For those who believe in presidential conspiracies…
Letter 44 by Charles Soule, Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque, Guy Major and Dan Jackson
It is tradition that the outgoing POTUS leaves a letter for the incoming commander and chief. Sometimes, they are comical, others deal with the difficulties the new president has ahead of them. Imagine that you are set to become president of the most powerful nation in the world. You are responsible for critical, global altering events, like the military forces and the global economy, but the outgoing president tells you something you never expected. We found aliens, seven years ago, and our crew is nearly there to investigate. We are not alone. That’s exactly what happened to President Stephen Blades in Letter 44, not only must he manage the politics on planet, he must also direct a crew of 9 astronauts millions of miles away to negate a galactic war.
For those who need something much, much lighter…
Citizen Jack by Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson
As we learned from Leslie Knope in the TV series Parks and Recreations, and perhaps some real life politicians, if you’ve got a secret, being in politics can be difficult. When a small town impeached mayor with family and alcohol issues is elected to the highest office in the land, there must be a secret weapon in his arsenal. Voter fraud? Financial benefactors? A secret organization? Commune with the devil? Close, Jack Northworthy’s secret weapon is his relationship with a demon name Marlinspike and a mysterious campaign manager willing to do anything to get him elected. With a campaign slogan like, “It’s time for American to get Jacked,” what could go wrong in this horror comedy by Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson?
Grab your popcorn and favorite libation and enjoy the Inauguration… or some great comics.