Thursday, March 1, 2012
Social History in Comics: Blitzkrieg 2 - "Walls of Blood"
Robert Kanigher, a long-time writer for DC, can be observed over his career to have been a name more often associated with anti-racist messages in comics than other writers of the time, and he often teamed with artist Joe Kubert on DC's war books. Blitzkrieg was a rather controversial book with the publisher (Joe Kubert, personal communication) that took a look at World War II from a Nazi perspective. This issue (#3, Mar-April 1976) is particularly hard-hitting in the way it depicts the callous slaughter of Polish Jews by inhuman Nazis. With a cover by Joe Kubert and interior art by Ric Estrada, the artwork is meritorious. The comic is one of a number of anti-racist war comics published by DC through the 1960s and well into the 1970s. Overall, when this particular body of work by Kanigher is examined, it is possible to see a theme of equating racism against African Americans with the anti-Semitism and other prejudices of the Nazis, the bottom line being that okay we despise, and rightfully so, the racist atrocities committed by the Nazis, and this is an incompatible position to take if we don't simultaneously condemn racism against African Americans and racism generally. It's also the approach adopted by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at Marvel (see especially Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #6). I found this issue of Blitzkrieg a bit uncomfortable to read because of the reality behind the story - it's painful to even begin contemplating the human suffering that really did take place at that time.
Heavy stuff, and it barely begins to convey the full horror of what went down, even though as a piece of popular media, it does a lot to make the reader think about the Holocaust, more than most material from the mid-1970s.