Publication date: April 2012
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Publication date: September 2013
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Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World
At the dawn of the Atomic Age, the wonders and dangers of this strange new energy were explained by scientists, politicians, and writers of every kind. But for millions of ordinary Americans, their primary source of information was comic books, comic strips, and cartoons. These ubiquitous pop culture vehicles simplified the intricate science of the fissioned atom to the general public, explaining both the potential benefits and the threats of atomic power. Through newspaper strips such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, comic book superheroes including Atomic Man, Spiderman, and Captain Atom, and nuclear villains such as Dr. Octopus and the Atomic Skull, readers acquired a new scientific vocabulary and comprehended the controversies surrounding nuclear science. This was accomplished, Szasz contends, both through the medium itself, which has a remarkable ability to present complex ideas in easy-to-grasp visual form, and through the ways cartoonists incorporated vexing quandaries into engaging stories of adventure, suspense, and even humor.
"This volume proves that 'small is beautiful' and can be significant. In only 136 pages, the late Szasz provides a fascinating account of the depiction of atomic warfare and energy in US and Japanese comics and cartoons.
Some of what Szasz reveals is downright scary: the extreme censorship of WW II and the devastating impacts of American nuclear testing and failures.
The inclusion of small press comics such as Leonard Rifas's EduComics testifies to the comprehensive nature of this book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers."
CHOICE. CHOICE Magazine Outstanding Academic Title in 2012
"A seminal work identifying the perspective that cartoonists brought to nuclear issues that was to prove enduringly influential upon public opinionan influence that continues to be felt to this very day."
Midwest Book Review
"Szasz's prose is accessible and jargon-free, friendly to both undergraduate and general readers and the text is filled with images of the works he describes. It could fruitfully appear on undergraduate syllabi in American studies, history, and popular culture courses."
Sean Cashbaugh, H-Net Reviews
“Charming and sophisticated . . . One might view Atomic Comics through many lenses. To some degree, the book fits in the ‘researcher studies pop culture’ category, but it is much too entertainingly--even at times, wryly--written to consign to the academic corner of the library.” -- Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
“An immensely readable survey of how comic books have sowed fear and excitement. . . . The author’s enthusiasm for the comic book medium is in perfect alignment with a gimlet eye towards how comic book artists put their positive or negative spin on scientific achievement.” -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer