Two months ago I picked up a copy of the comic book All-Flash #15 (Summer 1944), published during the thick of World War II. In the bottom margin of each page is a slogan, in rhymed couplet form, on how children could help with the war effort:
- Bottom Lines on Following Pages Tell What to Do While Battle Rages
- Tin Cans in the Garbage Pile Are Just a Way of Saying “Heil!”
- Waste Fats in Good Condition Help to Make Fine Ammunition
- Boys and Girls, Every Day, Can Give War Aid in Many a Way—
- Every Time You Buy a Stamp, You Feed the Flame in Freedom’s Lamp
- If You Have an Extra Quarter, Buy a Stamp to Make War Shorter
- However far soldiers roam, the want to have some mail from home
- Collect Old Paper, Turn It In—Help Your Uncle Sam to Win
- You Can Walk to School and Store! Saving Gas Helps Win the War!
- Boys Are Smart, Girls Are Wise, Black Markets Not to Patronize
- IF YOU STILL HAVE METAL SCRAP, TURN IT IN TO BEAT THE JAP
- Turn Out Lights Not in Use —War Production Needs the “Juice”
Case and punctuation are preserved as closely as possible. And yes, they used a racial slur in a kids’ book.
Out of 12 slogans, 10 give specific suggestions. They break down as follows:
4 on recycling (tin, scrap metal, fats, paper)
2 on conservation (electricity and gas)
2 on funding (stamps)
1 on morale (write to the troops)
1 on crime (black markets)
The black market warning doesn’t seem to fit in, since it’s not, as far as I can tell, directly related to the war effort. Concern that criminals might be funding the enemy, or undermining supply chains? Or maybe they just knew it was a problem (in response to rationing), and decided to include it in the list as a public safety issue?
Anyway, seeing this in a comic book, which at the time really was aimed at children, is an interesting reminder that, during World War II, we didn’t just mobilize the American military—we mobilized all of America.