Re-imaging heroes / rewriting history: The pictures and texts in children's newspapers in France, 1939-45

Book Section

When Paris was liberated in the summer of 1944, a beautifully illustrated, twenty-nine-page, hardback comic book about the war appeared on the market seemingly overnight. This publication, La bête est morte! [The Beast is Dead!] (Calvo, Dancette, and Zimmermann 1944; 1995), presented a pictorial account of a world war among animals who represented all the major players of the Second World War. Thanks to a facsimile published by Gallimard in 1995, this bande dessinée with its extremely positive vision of the French and their actions during the Occupation is more familiar to a wide audience today than most publications available to the young people in France in the late 1930s and early 1940s. According to this story, France's enemies were barbarian hordes from other countries (with Hitler as the big bad wolf, Mussolini as a hyena, and the Japanese as yellow monkeys), all evil came from outside the borders of the homeland, ordinary French citizens were docile rabbits and industrious squirrels, and their savior was a great white stork wearing a Lorraine cross. Although de Gaulle and the Resistance are glorified through the symbolism of purity and rebirth in the figure of the stork, the story barely touches on the subject of collaboration. What is less well-known is that the juvenile press in France between 1939 and 1945 provided children and adolescents a regular diet of fact, fiction, and outright propaganda about the Germans, the Vichy regime, the Allies, and eventually, the Resistance. The present study looks at a selection of those publications, focusing in particular on the messages they passed on to their readers and the heroes they created for them as they evolved over the course of the war to reflect the prevailing political ideology. Out of the more than two dozen papers that were available between 1939 and 1945, we will consider seven: three weeklies available in France on the eve of the war that migrated south to unoccupied France (Le Journal de Mickey, Jumbo, and Coeurs vaillants); three papers started in Paris during the Occupation; and the weekly Vaillant, born with the Liberation and filled with realistic images of fighting and resistance1. © 2008 by the University Press of Mississippi. All rights reserved.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tufts, C

Published Date

  • December 1, 2008

Book Title

  • History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels

Start / End Page

  • 44 - 68

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781604730043

Citation Source

  • Scopus