“All Steamed Up Again”

“All Steamed Up Again” (07/13/1937)
By Fred Otto Seibel (1886 – 1968)
12 x 16 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Frederick Otto Seibel was a prolific editorial artist. With a career spanning 60 years, he produced an estimated 16,000 cartoons.

Trouble plagued China and Japan for a hundred years. In 1931, things sparked up again when Japan invaded Manchuria, in part to relieve burdens back home caused by the Great Depression.

From 1931-1937, China and Japan continued to skirmish, and Japan was winning ground, capturing both Shanghai and the capital, Nanjing, in 1937.

By July 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army had already surrounded Beijing and Tianjin, with thousands of troops stationed along the railways, including one of the main entry points between Beijing and Tianjin, the old walled city of Wanping (located about 9 miles SW of the Beijing city center).

On July 7, 1937, the Japanese were conducting military exercises outside of Wanping. As the story goes, a Japanese soldier failed to return to his post, and the Chinese received a message demanding that the Japanese enter Wanping to look for him. The Chinese refused, and both sides began to mobilize.

Although the soldier actually returned to his unit, by the late evening of July 7 gunfire was exchanged and the Japanese attempted to breach the defenses at Wanping.

The attacks took place at an ancient stone bridge (the Marco Polo Bridge) in the Wanping district, which provided access to the rail station. The 7/7/37 date is considered to be the start of the second Sino-Japanese War, which lasted until 1945.

The tensions did not go down, and the next day, as troops were massing, shots were fired and the Battle of Beijing-Tianjin marks the first major conflict recorded in the 8-year war. The Chinese were outflanked and the Japanese had scored many victories. Between July 11 and 20, hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops were occupying the Beijing-Tianjin area.

This Seibel cartoon, from July 13, 1937, is clearly consistent with a message coming out of Asia that the Japanese were once again steamrolling over the Chinese.

Although the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 generally designates the starting date of WWII, there are those who see this war of Japanese aggression and the 7/7/37 date as an equally legitimate marker, given the alliance that would eventually emerge.

“Black Panther 10 p 2” (July 1978)

“Black Panther 10 p 2” (July 1978)
by Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and Mike Royer (1941-)
11 x 17 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

The current success of the Black Panther movie is driving up the price of Black Panther original art… particularly pages done by the legendary Jack Kirby.

From The Hollywood Reporter (February 15, 2018)

Created in 1966 by Lee and Kirby, Black Panther was revolutionary as the first African superhero in mainstream comics. Considered by Kirby as one of his most important creations for its message, T’Challa was a black man with brawn, brains, wealth and advanced technology introduced in the middle of the civil rights movement.

“Fifty years ago, he could have never envisioned the statement that this movie is making and the way it is being embraced by everybody,” Kirby’s son, Neal, says of the legendary artist. “In terms of a message, that was always his intention, but he could have never envisioned reaching this size of an audience.”

Neal Kirby, a high school senior when Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four No. 52 in summer 1966, remembers his father talking to him about introducing the character.

“I recall during the winter or early spring he asked me what I would think of a black superhero in the comics. Of course he was very much for it, as we all were at the time,” Kirby says. “My father was a very social liberal person. He would have been the Bernie Sanders of his day. He very much believed in social justice and equality, so he honestly thought it was time. Why shouldn’t African-Americans have their own superhero?”

THIS ISSUE (1978): “This World Shall Die!”

The Black Panther hijacks the plane of the Sudanese officials in order to quickly return to Wakanda in spite of the potential diplomatic ramifications.

“Avengers 24 p 18″ (January 1966)

“Avengers 24 p 18 ” (January 1966)
by Don Heck (1929-1995) and Dick Ayers (1924-2014)
13 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

‘From The Ashes of Defeat–!’
Written by Stan Lee – back in the day.

Kang the Conqueror is likely to show up in the movies, one day, just because he’s a nemesis with mastery of time-travel as a weapon, and his origins are a complex mix of incarnations from to the present day to the past to the future.

This issue is the second part of a two-part story.

In the future, Kang tries to show his power to the future Princess Ravonna by capturing the Avengers… but she doesn’t care. As troops advance on the city, Kang escapes. Although hopeless, the Avengers decide to put up a fight against the never-ending army of Baltag, the city’s ruler.

Although Kang’s law states that monarchs conquered are to be executed, Kang wants to marry Ravonna. Drama!

On this page, we see that Kang is forced to team up with Captain America, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch to save Ravonna and liberate her civilization from Baltag.

Note how well the page is balanced and how this narrative is carried along. Top of the page (lengthwise pause): Kang enacts a plan. Middle of the page (chop/chop/chop): three fast scene shifts with the heroes, being heroes. Bottom of the page (another lengthwise pause): the consequence of Kang’s actions, and the uneasy alliance with the heroes is established.

“Winter Sports”

“Winter Sports” (est. Dec 1941)
by William “Bill” Crawford (1913-1982)
19 x 22 in., ink and crayon on Glarco Illustration Board
Coppola Collection

The winter climate has contributed to the military failures of several invasions of Russia, including (and perhaps particularly) Operation Barbarossa (meaning “Red Beard, named by Hitler to honor of German ruler Frederick I, nicknamed Red Beard, who had orchestrated a ruthless attack on the Slavic peoples of the East some eight centuries earlier), the Nazi attack on their Soviet ally – a bold grab for territory by the Reich.

Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, in their largest military operation of World War II. The Germans pushed hard; the Soviets pushed back. The plan, to take Moscow by the end of summer, was delayed, and so the Nazis first got bogged down (literally) during the heavy autumn rains (the “rasputitsa,” or “General Mud”). Loaded vehicles and marching men were now relying on horse-drawn wagons for support.

The Nazis did not make it to Moscow until December. Originally planning a summer campaign, the Germans were confronted with a Soviet Winter without any of the clothing or gear they would need… nor the experience to survive the Siberian cold. The losses were devastating.

On December 6, 1941, the Soviet Union launched a major counterattack, driving the Germans back from Moscow. All things considered, I think this cartoon is from this date or before.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The war on the Eastern Front ebbed and flowed throughout the remainder of the war, until 1945.


“See You For Dinner”

“See You For Dinner” (ca 1943?)
artist unknown
18 x 27 in., acrylic on board
Coppola Collection

There is just no telling where and for what purpose this partially completed painting was made.

The intended era is clearly WW2, featuring a woman with many of the features of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” from a painting by Norman Rockwell, published as the cover to The Saturday Evening Post on May 20, 1943 (see below for reference).

The other stuff I bought with this is all WW2 era editorial cartoon art, so it is likely that this is contemporary to those, but it could have been done years later for some reflective purpose.

The intent is clear: a delightful “other side of the story” on Rosie’s life. Her strength is being applied every day to the war effort while the aproned Mr Riveter is at home, tending to the household chores.

For the record, you might have encountered the “We Can Do It!” image as Rosie (see below), but that association came 40 years later.

The “We Can Do It!” image is from an in-house 1942 motivational work campaign at Westinghouse, meant to inspire production workers of both sexes to work harder. It was not a public image and was on display at Westinghouse for only two weeks in February (early in the war, just two months after Pearl Harbor). The image was not associated with women’s roles in heavy manufacturing labor.

The origins of “Rosie the Riveter” and the associated representation for the women who famously joined the workforce during WW2 date to a popular song of the same name (c. 1942, and released and recorded in early 1943). Depictions of women in coveralls with short sleeves and their hair in bandanas were commonly represented on the sheet music for the song (see below).

While other girls attend their fav’rite
cocktail bar
Sipping Martinis, munching caviar
There’s a girl who’s really putting
them to shame
Rosie is her name

All the day long whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history,
working for victory
Rosie the Riveter

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a
male will do
Rosie the Riveter

In the song, Rosie’s boyfriend is a marine, so the association with this painting does not appear to be literal. By the time Rockwell paints the Post cover, in mid-1943, the look for Rosie the Riveter had been established and people would have known at a glance what and who they were looking at.

The Rockwell painting was reproduced widely, and used during a War Bond campaign. After the war, the image faded from view.

In the 1980s, the “We Can Do It!” image was rediscovered and used in conjunction with a women’s empowerment message. At some point, the image became strongly attributed as the Rosie the Riveter, in part, it is speculated, because of the copyright issues surrounding reproduction of the Rockwell painting.

At any rate, the “We Can Do It!” image has been widely used over the last 40 years and is often labeled as Rosie, including its availability on souvenir items – from shirts to shot glasses – that you can buy from the museum shop at the Smithsonian and at the National WW2 Museum in New Orleans (which is an awesome museum, by the way).

Normal Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter cover to The Post (May 20, 1943)

The “We Can Do It!” poster from the 1942 in-house Westinghouse campaign

Cover to the 1942 Sheet Music


“Brain Fag”

“Brain Fag” (11/22/1940)
in “Out Our Way”
by James (JR) Williams (1888-1957)
13 x 13 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Out Our Way first appeared in newspapers on March 20, 1922. The single-panel series introduced a variety of characters, typically labor and blue collar slice of life scenes.  Anecdotal stories indicate that more Williams’ cartoons were clipped and saved than were other newspaper comics.

The term “brain fag” has fallen out of use. It dates to the mid-1800s as a way to express mental exhaustion, to be completed tired out from excessive mental labor. The verb form “fag” existed since the 1500s to represent  “droop, decline in strength, to become weary” and probably derives from the word “flag.”

These three boys appear to be a nice “living” representation of the understanding of this term’s meaning in 1940.

The term was rediscovered in the 1960s as a culturally contextualized psychological condition associated with Nigerian schoolboys who complained of various physical symptoms associated with too much mental effort being required during schooling (“Brain Fag Syndrome”). Enough time had passed since its common use that some sources cite the 1960s syndrome as the etymological origin of the term. Clearly that is not correct.



“Seaclouds” (2018)
by Barbara Kacicek (1957-)
8×8 in., oil on panel
Coppola Collection

From the artist (2018):
a role reversal of bohemian green earth and terra verte in the sky surrounding the moon, zinc buff and unbleached titanium to make the rich cloud cream and a mix of everything with cerulean blue in the waves (detail, below)

From Joni Mitchell (1967):
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

From Troye Sivan (2015):
My youth, my youth is yours
Trippin’ on skies, sippin’ waterfalls

“War Comes to Town”

“War Comes to Town” (07/16/1942)
by A. B. Chapin (1875-1962)
18 x 18 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Archibald B. Chapin was a renowned editorial cartoonist in the Midwest. He spent his early career in Kansas City, St Louis and Philadelphia. In 1942, he moved to Schenectady, New York, and drew a weekly cartoon for the National Weekly Newspaper Service. He died October 19, 1962, which means he was certainly staying active as an editorial cartoonist into his late 80s.

In early 1942, the US population needed to adjust to the civilian consequences of being in a large-scale war in ways that we have not faced since WWII.

This cartoon is from July 16, 1942.

In early 1942, the Japanese conquered the prime rubber producing nations of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, eliminating 91% of America’s rubber supply. And because cargo ships were needed for military purposes, the ability to import rubber from South America was reduced. The synthetic rubber program had just begun and didn’t produce enough to meet civilian and military needs. The military required rubber for vehicle and aircraft tires, pontoon bridges, gas and oxygen masks, medical equipment, boots, raincoats, shoes, and even erasers. Rationing of tires and rubber goods was announced on December 27, 1941, to start on January 5, 1942. Civilians were allowed to keep five tires per automobile, and were required to surrender any others. Men’s rubber boots and work shoes were rationed starting September 30, 1942 but most other civilian products made from rubber were no longer produced. People simply had to make do with what they had.

That same year, the United States began its first major national scrap drive. From June 15-30, 1942, the United States held a nationwide rubber drive. People brought in old or excess tires, raincoats, hot water bottles, boots, and floor mats. In exchange they received a penny a pound.

Rubber was not the only commodity needed for the war effort. Imagine going to the store and not finding batteries, thumbtacks, alarm clocks, or paper clips on the shelves. Metals were also needed for military purposes. Ships and planes and jeeps and guns and ration tins and helmets took precedence over civilian products.

The last automobile rolled off the assembly line on February 10, 1942, and cars wouldn’t be manufactured again until August 1945. On April 2, 1942, the US War Production Board ordered a reduction in the use of metals in packaging of civilian products. Anyone who wanted to purchase a tin tube of toothpaste, shaving cream, or medicated ointment had to turn in the old tube first. By March 1943, these restrictions resulted in the rationing of canned foods. Many everyday items became hard to find—can openers, kitchen utensils, steel wool, batteries, hair curlers, razor blades, wristwatches, thumbtacks, paper clips, pins, needles, zippers, garden tools, and bed springs.

In July 1942, a call went out to the public to donate late-model, nonessential typewriters to the military. Typewriters were rationed in the US from March 6, 1942 to April 22, 1944, requiring a certificate from the local ration board for a purchase.

Some programs ended up as humorous failures. In July 1942, the US government proclaimed a stop to the manufacture of beauty products—but a great uproar led to the repeal four months later. Sliced bread also briefly became unavailable, to conserve the metal blades. This ban lasted only a few months – don’t screw with sliced bread. Alarm clock production stopped in the US on July 1, 1942. However, employers all over the nation lobbied to resume production to reduce absenteeism.

These drives were often great community events, with performers, speeches, and opportunities to throw your scrap metal at a bust of Hitler. The need for paper increased during the war, too. The military’s love for paperwork could be blamed, but the military also used lots of paper packaging for supplies. On the civilian side, paper packaging had replaced tin for many products. Publishers found their paper allotment cut by 15 percent. Newspapers, magazines, and books were printed on fewer pages with thinner paper and narrow margins. Paperback books had been introduced in 1939 and also allowed for less paper. However, more scrap paper was needed. A paper drive in mid-1942 brought in so much paper that mills were inundated and actually called for a stop.

Here you can see a rubber drive underway, as is a scrap collection. Travel by horse and bicycle are featured.

“What’s the matter with the Government, anyhow? If I was running things, I would show them how to win this war”

“Got your ration card (for gas)?”

“How did you get your harvesting done? (with College boys)”

“Here goes another eighteen seventy-give to sock the Japs (you paid $18.75 for a $25.00 war bond)”

“A card party” (benefit card parties – whist, bridge and 500 will be played, proceeds to charity)

“She doesn’t save her tires to help win the war (driving 3 blocks to the store)… and she doesn’t do Red Cross or any other work, either”

“What will he do when they start to ration coffee?”

“I forgot my sugar card… Henry will need to use molasses in his coffee”

“I don’t know where my boy is, but I hope he can help stop terrible things…”