“Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg

Comic by definition is “of or relating to comedy” or “causing laughter or amusement,” (Dictionary.com) of course these definitions pertain to the comedic comics as well but it does apply to the comic strips we know and love as well. If this is the concrete definition of comics then why do we create such complexities with the artwork that is produced in the comic strip form? Due to the concrete definition many think comics are for kids, but the complexities have changed that generalization. 

Reading the first paragraph of “Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg challenges that definition and influences the idea that it needs to be elongated or changed completely. The first paragraph of the book isn’t even written by Strömberg, it is by Peter Kuper. Kuper wrote the foreword  for this book, foreword is defined as “a short introductory statement in a published work, as a book, especially when written by someone other than the author,” (Dictionary.com). Kuper explains the whole book with the interpretation that you, a reader would have, creating a closer relationship between you the book, and the writer, Strömberg. Kuper’s interpretation of the book becomes more and more relevant as you read through the book. Kuper does a great job of getting the main ideas of the book into one foreword. Going back and reading the foreword after the book creates a sensation similar to reading your thoughts. It becomes apparent as the book continues what Strömberg’s idea was, using Kuper to write this foreword for him. 

Kuper opens his foreword giving a base ground for the readers “Propaganda as we know, is from the Latin- pro, meaning for, and paganda meaning indoctrination of young minds. (if you don’t believe me look it up.*)” (pg. 6). This definition connects back to that definition of comics though the young minds part of the definition. Comics are for kids and so is propaganda right? Strömberg addresses many propaganda filled comics and states “I have delved deep into my own comics library, which s extensive and contains examples from all over the world.” The thing is, he goes on to state that he did not use all of that knowledge in this book because of the accessibility which brings up the issue that the comics from other countries aren’t readily accessible to the general public. Strömberg made do with what he had very well though and gives this disclaimer on the second page. You get to know all the artists that changed the game of comics while learning the influence of the comics whether they knew it or not. You start to understand the different art-forms of the comics and how different comics portray different things. 

One style was Bilderbogen vom Kriege (Picture Stories from the War) directed towards young german boys to persuade them to joining the war. This comic is the exact representation of both the definition of propaganda and comic. The comic used a mixture of the old and new style for the artwork. The artist used “pictures in boxes with rhyming text below” to make it feel like it was from the last century. Also “No speech balloons, onomatopoetic words or any other modern comics inventions were used,” Creating more of a picture book stylized comic rather than the traditional one we all know and love. One thing the artist did keep were the images “were in full color, painted, and very much in the style of the times,”(pg. 48).

Comics are for anyone and everyone, they aren’t just superheroes and over-sexualized women (though that is what they are still mostly made of). There are examples of females taking over and making a name for themselves in the Comic book world. Asia, America, and Europe are the three places where comic books are sold most. Like the manga art that is controlled by more women than in any other major hub for Comic Art. Europe and America are mostly controlled by men while Asia took a different route with Manga art. There is a high percentage of females in the asian world that make for interesting views revealed in the comics. Which gives hope for that definition of comic to change.

This book took me by surprise because the writing was amazing and unexpected in every way. It’s as if you are having a conversation with Strömberg, and you can tell that there was an enormous amount of work put into the book. From the parings of the artwork and Strömberg’s writing, to the flow of the book and relating back to the main idea and purpose of the writing. The book doesn’t have to be read sequentially giving you the freedom to jump from subject to subject in whichever way you please. The book covers so many subjects and ideas and concepts creating a bit of an overload of information so that freedom of choice aforementioned comes in handy. This gives you the feeling of a history textbook but one that you want to read. Giving you the same information from a different point of view and history is all about the point of view.

“Comic Art Propaganda” by Fredrik Strömberg makes you question your idea of comics, propaganda, history, and portrayal giving you brain a great workout. If you like anything involved with art, history, or political influence this book should be in your hands and devoured by your eyes.


Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

Title Comic Art Propaganda

Author Fredrik Strömberg

Foreword Peter Kuper

Publisher Alistair Campbell

Date of publication July 20, 2010

Number of pages 175

Genre Sequencial Art, Comics, History

​Creative Portion 
"In An Opposite World" this is what it would look like and it was inspired by the comics in the book but in a sketchy style I like to call my own

Comments (3)

Nicholas Lepera (Student 2016)
Nicholas Lepera

An excellent review that gets the reader thinking about the many things we see. Most people would not recognize the propaganda provided by Captain America. Comics have made it easier to influence people by entertaining them and adding in different ideas that portray specific people as villainous.

Tobi Hahn (Student 2016)
Tobi Hahn

This was a really interesting book review. I don't know a lot about comics, so I like hearing about them and what they can be like. I'd be interested to know what the response to the book was like from comic book fans - were they hostile to having comics critiqued in this way?