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Racism in American Superhero Comics, 1938-1945 (Superman, Captain America) – A Short Documentary Film About Racism in Comics

Race in Early Superhero Comics by Dr. Darren R. Reid


Following up on the last podcast –Captain America’s Racist Sidekick– I created this short documentary film.  The eight minute video explores racism in comics.  Even before World War II broke out, racist attitudes and anti-Asian prejudices were pronounced in the comic book world – from Superman to Captain America and The Spirit, racism in comics helped to define the early American Superhero genre.  This film is a follow-up to my other lectures and articles exploring the link between classic comic books and American history. To discover more about gender at the dawn of the superhero age, you might want to read my articles “Superman: Action Comics #1 and Gender Politics” which was published by The Comics Grid.  To listen to my series of lectures on comic books and history, check out the American Studies and History Podcast page.  Listen to “Up, Up and Away: Action Comics #1 in the Great Depression and the Depression Recession (1938 and 2011)” which compares DC’s original superhero classic to its modern day remake.  Also of interest for DC fans is my brief “History of the Joker” which explores how Batman’s arch nemesis has evolved from his first appearance to his modern day incarnation.  Finally, Marvel fans have something to think about in “Captain America’s Racist Sidekick”, a lecture which explores the problematic character of Whitewash Jones and how racism in comics worked in the early years of the genre.


“Race in Early Superhero Comics” is approximately eight minutes long so it a perfect piece of bite-sized history to help start your day! This film is presented in a standard web format above but is best viewed in its native 72op High Definition mode.  Click the settings icon to change the resolution. If you enjoy the film please “like” its youtube page and share on your favourite social networks.

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