“Bucking Bronco”

“Bucking Bronco” (June 3, 1942)
by Paul Frederick Berdanier (1879-1961)
15 x 21 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Paul F. Berdanier was a cartoonist, illustrator, etcher and painter. He worked as an advertising artist in the 1920s. He illustrated for pulp magazines in the ’30s, while also drawing for the St. Louis Post-Dipatch. He did art on various features for United Feature Syndicate from the 1930s throughout the 1950s. At United Features comic books, he contributed to Tip Top Comics with features like ‘Sparkman’ (1943-45) and ‘The Triple Terror’ (1943-46). Berdanier was also a teacher at Washington University.

In the 1930s, Mexico and the United States were unlikely allies. In 1938, Mexico’s president nationalized the country’s oil industry, which angered powerful U.S. oil companies. Plus, many Mexicans still resented the United States for the loss of 55 percent of Mexico’s territory after the U.S.-Mexican War.

But as the war in Europe began to disrupt trade routes around the world, Mexico and other Latin American countries found themselves in economic peril.

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought the war to the Western Hemisphere for the first time. Mexico cut diplomatic ties with Japan on December 9, 1941; it broke with Germany and Italy by December 11. In January 1942, at the Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Rio Janeiro, Brazil, Mexico’s delegation argued forcefully that all the nations of the Western Hemisphere must band together in mutual cooperation and defense.

That May, German U-boats sank two Mexican oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. Germany refused to apologize or compensate Mexico, and on June 1, 1942, President Manuel Ávila Camacho issued a formal declaration of war against the Axis Powers.

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