Monday, March 13, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Japan: Rebirth of a Nation

In 1951, Japan was coming to the end of its occupation and reconstruction by U.S. forces, and naturally there was great curiosity in America over how things had gone. The closed-end comic strip series Japan: Rebirth of a Nation sought to tell the story of rebuilding Japan in twelve information-packed episodes. The story was highly self-congratulatory, and not without good reason. The U.S. had brought a functioning democracy to a land that had been mostly feudal, had helped rebuild Japan's industrial capabilities and shipping fleets, and had guided modernization of everything from medicine to agriculture.

The U.S. had learned a lot from the way Germany had been mistreated after World War I, and how that mistake more than anything had led to World War II. We were not about to have World War II set the stage for yet another worldwide bloodbath. Japan was truly reborn in those six years, and the nation took its place in the second half of the 20th century as an industrial and business powerhouse that now rivalled her former enemy. If anything good can be said to come out of war, the rebirth of Japan, as well as Germany, are candidates for that distinction.

Japan: Rebirth of a Nation was issued by NEA to run from August 20 to September 1 1951, though I've never found a paper that actually ran it on those dates -- most started it between August 22 and the end of the month. The writer of the series was uncredited and the excellent art was provided by Ralph Lane. Lane had just bowed out of NEA's Vic Flint strip, presumably to tackle projects like these. Lane handled the art on over a dozen of these closed-end newsy strips in the 1950s and early 1960s.


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