Sunday, July 09, 2006

How To Spot A Racist Bastard

Comic books, comic strips, and cartoons have a long, sordid, and shameful history of racism.
Consider the "Slap a Jap" covers on WWII-era Superman covers, or, as was pointed out in this documentary I watched about super heroes on The History Channel last night, the fact that during the war the heroes fought two kinds of Japanese: buck-toothed and fanged.
(You can see lots of examples of this over at
In any case, I wasn't aware of the official capacity in which comics contributed to institutional racism until today when I discovered How to Spot a Jap, an "informational" comic included in a guide to China issued to GIs stationed there in the 1940s.
The comic was produced by Milton Caniff, a cartoonist famous for the strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon.
I'm sure that at the time it seemed sensible, and if anyone recognized it as being racist I'm sure nobody cared.
After al, we were busy locking up our own citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent, so making fun of the way they look and talk was mild by comparison.
Still, with the clarity of history...well, I'll let you be the judge.

You know what else is a "panic," kid? Forcing them out of their homes and locking them up in internment camps! That's a laugh riot!

No comments: