Real Heroes & True Comics

One of the first series of comics dedicated to educational topics was True Comics, published by Gworge J. Hecht’s Parents’ Magazine Press, beginning in 1941. Designed to convey not only information but also wholesome attitudes, the series covered a variety of materials, but many issues were devoted to patriotic stories from American history or to biographies of famous American (and occasionally non-Americans, such as Winston Churchill) from the past. The series also included stories of the exploits of the FBI, designed to heroize law enforcers and demonize criminal. These fact-based comics were enough of a commercial success that the series ran until 1950.

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2 thoughts on “Real Heroes & True Comics

  1. Parent’s Magazine publisher George Hecht was a strong proponent of censoring comic content from way back. He was the head of the U.S.’s “Bureau of Cartoons” during WWI, which provided content guidelines for propaganda purposes. Sounds harmless, but it should be noted that comic artists were indeed arrested and prosecuted for political cartoons critical of the war effort in this era using the Espionage Act of 1917 — the same law used to charge Edward Snowden.

    That aside, it’s pretty well known that Parent’s Magazine was a key vehicle, alongside Wertham, for the fear-mongering that lead to the comics code in 1954. It should also be noted that Hecht was one of the very few publishers who was able to get his comics into Canada during WWII after that country passed the War Exchange Conservation Act in 1940.

    DC Comics left us a little historical Easter Egg regarding how they felt about Hecht, I think. If you look close at the True Comics cover in your scan here, you will see named features including “Frontier Fighters” and “My Greatest Adventure”. Those were regular story features throughout the run of that title.

    It can’t be a coincidence that Frontier Fighters and My Greatest Adventure were also the very first two titles DC Comics launched after the Comics Code Authority was formed in late 1954 (no real connection to the True features beyond the titles). Whether that’s a sort of “eff you” to Hecht or more of a “He can’t possibly object to these two!” kind of thing I can’t yet say, but it’s certainly no coincidence.

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