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Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s

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Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch, Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took “A P Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch, Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took “A Poke at Poison.” Smokey Bear had his own comic, and so did Zippy, the USPS mascot. Dozens of artists and writers, known and unknown, were recruited to create comics about every aspect of American life, from jobs and money to health and safety to sex and drugs. Whether you want the lowdown on psychological warfare or the highlights of working in the sardine industry, the government has a comic for you! Government Issue reproduces an important selection of these official comics in full-reading format, plus a broad range of excerpts and covers, all organized chronologically in thematic chapters. Earnest, informational, and kitschy, this outstanding collection is the ultimate comics vox populi.


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Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch, Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took “A P Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch, Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took “A Poke at Poison.” Smokey Bear had his own comic, and so did Zippy, the USPS mascot. Dozens of artists and writers, known and unknown, were recruited to create comics about every aspect of American life, from jobs and money to health and safety to sex and drugs. Whether you want the lowdown on psychological warfare or the highlights of working in the sardine industry, the government has a comic for you! Government Issue reproduces an important selection of these official comics in full-reading format, plus a broad range of excerpts and covers, all organized chronologically in thematic chapters. Earnest, informational, and kitschy, this outstanding collection is the ultimate comics vox populi.

30 review for Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    The comics the US has put out over the years takes the 'pulse' of our political perspectives. This book gives you an overview of differing social agendas over a 60 year period. The comics the US has put out over the years takes the 'pulse' of our political perspectives. This book gives you an overview of differing social agendas over a 60 year period.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Overall, there is much to like about Richard L. Graham’s Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s. The theme that seems to be backing this collection is that the same government that launched a save our children’s campaign against the Comic Book, never stopped using them for purposes as diverse as wartime training material for the troop to peace time promotions of healthy habits and safety awareness.Call this a weak 4 stars. By detail and design, family friendly. The best use for the Overall, there is much to like about Richard L. Graham’s Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s. The theme that seems to be backing this collection is that the same government that launched a save our children’s campaign against the Comic Book, never stopped using them for purposes as diverse as wartime training material for the troop to peace time promotions of healthy habits and safety awareness.Call this a weak 4 stars. By detail and design, family friendly. The best use for the book is to flip through, let some of the selections from many famous comic book illustrators catch your eye, then turn to the few pages that introduce each section and then place it back among the rest of the décor. Having made the not serious mistake of reading it as a book my experience was slightly mixed. Of necessity the author could not include the entire text of every title mentioned in the collection, but sometime the result felt more like a near random sampling rather than anything systematic. It is mostly a fun read. A gentle survey of a small slice of cultural history. There will be some moments of remembering reading, or seeing some of the titles. A few smiles at the thought of using such a deliberately light media for handling difficult or important topics. I will be giving my copy to a friend who is a deeper student into the history of the comic book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I was delighted to see this title & find out what kind of "comics" the government has been offering to the public, apparently for many years. I got sucked in by the military manuals & had to read the whole thing, which is quite a large size- over 300p. in an oversized format. I had no idea how much of this there was & even wonder why I have never actually seen any of this myself. I hate to keep using the word "fascinating" but it applies to this volume & subject. Did you know that Dr. Seuss wrot I was delighted to see this title & find out what kind of "comics" the government has been offering to the public, apparently for many years. I got sucked in by the military manuals & had to read the whole thing, which is quite a large size- over 300p. in an oversized format. I had no idea how much of this there was & even wonder why I have never actually seen any of this myself. I hate to keep using the word "fascinating" but it applies to this volume & subject. Did you know that Dr. Seuss wrote comics for the military? And you can find more on the subject online, including the complete comics, not just the first page!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aja

    I was lucky enough to not only read this book but also to hear a talk by the author. I'll admit that first things first I skimmed it, expertly zeroing in on the Harry Potter piece, before sitting down to enjoy it more fully. I've always loved history, and as such, I find myself loving more and more 'niche history'. Things that aren't in general history novels and definitely not in school books. This fits perfectly into that, while also being very captivating. Studying documents can be seen as a b I was lucky enough to not only read this book but also to hear a talk by the author. I'll admit that first things first I skimmed it, expertly zeroing in on the Harry Potter piece, before sitting down to enjoy it more fully. I've always loved history, and as such, I find myself loving more and more 'niche history'. Things that aren't in general history novels and definitely not in school books. This fits perfectly into that, while also being very captivating. Studying documents can be seen as a bit dry, but with comics as the subject matter, it definitely stayed interesting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    This is a massive and thick book about comic books that were produced by the government or by other groups in cooperation with the government. The comic books covered a wide range of topics, going from how criminals released from jail can adjust to life outside the jail through how to fight forest fires through how to save money. There are cover illustrations and even entire stories along with text explaining how the comics were used and who made them. A very interesting book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Unshelved Book Club: 17 Aug 2012

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bodicainking

    Worth it for the US army comic (about maintaining Humvees and things) that got sued by JK Rowling for its use of Harry Potter imagery alone!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Hodgson

    A fascinating look at how our gov't has used comics as propaganda and information over the years A fascinating look at how our gov't has used comics as propaganda and information over the years

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hideo

    Amazing, alarming and an absolute must read if you read comics, thirst for history of comic use by the government.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Glyn

    This book was really interesting! I've seen propaganda in history class, but never realized how often comics were used to distribute information. The self aware commentary is good, lampshading the sexism, racism, and homophobia present in many of the comics. It always helps to fight the ignorant nostalgia that looks back on the past as a "better time." Probably my only complaint is how brief some of the comic excerpts were -- apparently, there's a fuller version online, which makes the book versio This book was really interesting! I've seen propaganda in history class, but never realized how often comics were used to distribute information. The self aware commentary is good, lampshading the sexism, racism, and homophobia present in many of the comics. It always helps to fight the ignorant nostalgia that looks back on the past as a "better time." Probably my only complaint is how brief some of the comic excerpts were -- apparently, there's a fuller version online, which makes the book version kinda lacking.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angel Zapata

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dev Shapiro

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chantale Caron

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Philippe Gaudette

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Holt

  16. 4 out of 5

    J. Scott

  17. 5 out of 5

    Justin Grimes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Moby-Nostromo

  19. 5 out of 5

    G

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe Miller

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

  23. 4 out of 5

    TYLER QXBEAR

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wayne C

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  29. 4 out of 5

    Quinn Rollins

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Driscoll

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