Saturday, January 09, 2010
Anti-American Art: Graphic Novel Meets Anti-Imperialism
Today they're respected as graphic novels, but back in the day comic books were for kids and propaganda. The People's Republic of China issued thousands of these things: short morality fables with compelling color covers and exciting black-and-white action scenes inside. They're kind of like the communist version of those Chick Publications religious tracts you find about the dangers of Satan and gays.
With my handful of Chinese characters, I'm guessing this 1973 comic book is about an anti-tank battalion of the "Chinese People's Volunteers" aka the Red Chinese Army fighting American forces in Korea in the early 1950s. The first part of the book shows US planes and tanks wreaking havoc; two volunteer buddies stationed in a cave plan retribution, succesfully taking their bazooka to a marauding American tank, and in the climactic panels shown below, dispatching the crew and triumphantly capturing the vehicle. Unlike American comic books, there are no ads in the back for sea-monkeys.