How Are Comics and the Cold War Interrelated?

July 15, 2023
David Sunnyside

When readers picked up Fantastic Four #1 off the rack in the summer of ’61 they were confronted with a world on the edge of nuclear annihilation and in the midst of an existential arms race between the US and the Soviet Union. The characters of Reed Richards and his crew were a physical manifestation of the anxieties of millions of Americans who lived in active fear of the threat of Soviet technological superiority. The stories also echoed the larger political context of an era marked by antisemitism, racism and creeping collectivism in domestic politics.

As historians and scholars have argued, comic books — especially the superhero genre — were inherently enmeshed in the wider politics of their eras. In the mid-1940s, for example, comics frequently addressed issues such as racial tensions, wartime economic concerns and even domestic segregation.

In the aftermath of WWII, however, government authorities realized that the comics medium could be exploited to advance state-sanctioned propaganda. As a result, governmental agencies like the Writers’ War Board and the State Department worked with comic book publishers to spread their messages in the medium’s most receptive markets.

Hirsch’s collection examines the many ways that comics responded to and reacted to the Cold War. From espionage-driven stories to cautionary tales about communist infiltration, the essays in this volume demonstrate how comics were shaped by and shaped by the political events of their time.

Featuring over 100 eye-catching covers and interiors, this volume is sure to appeal to fans of both classic and modern comics as well as those interested in the cultural and social history of the postwar period.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram