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Atomic Comics

Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World

Ferenc Morton Szasz

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page Copyright Page

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pp. xiii-xv

As atomic-themed comic books are a somewhat unusual theme for academic analysis, I should probably start with a word of explanation. I came of reading age in the late 1940s, a period . . .

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p. xvii-xvii

In the fall of 2010, several months after my husband, Ferenc Morton Szasz, lost his struggle with leukemia, I met with Matt Becker, acquisitions editor for the University of Nevada Press, to . . .

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pp. 1-5

At 10:45 a.m. on August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman revealed to the world that the Allies had dropped a new type of weapon on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. “It is an atomic . . .

Part I

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p. 7-7

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Chapter 1 Comic Strips Confront the Subatomic World: The Turn of the Century to the Early 1930s

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pp. 9-21

In 1895, German scientist William Roentgen shocked the world by his announcement of the discovery of X-rays (“X” for unknown) that could penetrate solid matter. News of the “Roentgen rays” . . .

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Chapter 2 The Comics and the Fissioned Atom: The Mid-1930s to August 6, 1945

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pp. 22-40

The 1939 announcement of the splitting of Uranium235 (U-235) by German physical chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann sparked an overwhelming public interest in the promises of . . .

Part II

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p. 41-41

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Chapter 3 Coming to Grips with the Atom: Early Atomic Superheroes

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pp. 43-66

In 1940 the American Physical Society, the main US professional physics organization, contained 3,751 members. Assuming that slightly over half had some interest in the subatomic world, this . . .

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Chapter 4 Atomic Comic Utopias, Espionage, and the Cold War

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pp. 67-86

In the wake of Hiroshima, a number of scientists and science writers quickly revived the earlier 1939–41 dreams of an atomic utopia. Tucked amid the dire warnings of future wars, predictions of . . .

Part III

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p. 87-87

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Chapter 5 American Underground Comix, Political and International Cartoonists, and the Rise of Japanese Manga

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pp. 89-114

The rose-colored visions of nuclear power without consequence and the whistle-in-the-dark civil defense warnings faded amid the widespread social upheaval that followed the election of . . .

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Chapter 6 The Never-Ending Appeal of Atomic Adventure Tales

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pp. 115-132

A firm believer in the educational potential of graphic art, Leonard Rifas once observed that “Comic books are not the inconsequential, harmless escapist fun that people assume . . .

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pp. 133-136

Although no artistic medium—film, art, fiction, song, theater, sculpture, history, photography, or opera—can ever encompass the entirety of the story of atomic energy, for over seven . . .


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pp. 137-153


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pp. 155-165


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pp. 167-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780874178791
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874178746

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 20 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cartoonists.
  • Atomic bomb in literature.
  • Comic books, strips, etc. -- History and criticism.
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