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Commies, Cowboys, and Jungle Queens
Comic Books and America, 1945–1954
William W. Savage, Jr.

1998 • 165 pp. 40 cartoons 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Popular Culture / Cultural Studies / American Studies

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6338-5

“An extremely charming, informative, and funny work. The book is entertaining and scholarly at the same time. Rather than couch these now-amusing texts in dry analysis, Savage uses a playful style that helps to communicate the absurdity of both era and context.” —American Journalism

Comic books crystallize the social and political problems of a troubled period in American culture.

In addition to their entertainment value, comic books offered a unique world-view to a large segment of the American public in the confusing decade following World War II. Millions were distributed to service personnel during the war years, and by 1945, adults as well as children were reading an astounding 60 million comic books per month. These books treated such contemporary concerns as the atomic and hydrogen bombs, growth of international Communism, and the Korean War, and they offered heroes and heroines to deal with such problems. In response to moral criticism, the industry established a Comics Code that specified acceptable content. The code prohibited most of what had appeared in the medium prior to 1954, thus ending what has since come to be known as the "golden age" of comic books. With reproductions of five representative stories supplementing the text, William Savage's book (first published in 1990), will appeal to social historians and others interested in this vivid expression of American culture.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Savage has helped break ground with this work. The style of writing employed is often acidic, but witty. The insights are clearly stated. The relationships are definitely drawn. Comic Books and America is not reading material for the faint-hearted. The author states his position and then draws the line ready for challenge. His leanings are liberal, and the text flows from that perspective. The work is a positive contribution to the study of popular culture and its role in American history.”—Social Science Quarterly

“Using a straightforward, uncluttered style and incorporating primary source materials rarely used by anyone -- including enthusiasts -- Savage has made a valuable contribution to the study of the genre.”—The Library Quarterly

“All right! At last! Those splendid hours of my youth when I lay absorbed in reading comic books were not misspent. The injunctions of my parents against those purveyors of unspecified evil have been proven wrong. William W. Savage has salvaged comic books as primary documents for those trying to understand the mindset of post-World War II society.”
South Dakota History

WILLIAM W SAVAGE, Jr., is a Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of eight books on the culture of the American West, seven published by the University of Oklahoma Press. His book publications include: Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth; Indian Life: Transforming an American Myth; The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History and Culture; and Singing Cowboys and All That Jazz: A Short History of Popular Music in Oklahoma.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:29 -0500