Comics of the 1940s & 1950s

Updated February 21, 2017

Like other art forms, comics in the 1940s and 1950s reflected the issues facing the world during that time period. In the 1940s, much of the civilised world, including the United States, was involved in World War II. Comic superhero characters emerged during this time to offer entertainment and hope for its readers. Comics with a comedic flair were also created during the '40s and '50s.

Justice Society of America

One of the most well-known group of superheroes in the comic world is the Justice Society of America. The comic's initial storyline was the gathering of superheroes to protect U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt from Adolf Hitler's -- leader of Nazi Germany -- cronies. The Justice Society's original members were the Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, Sandman, Hourman, the Spectre, Doctor Fate and Atom. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman would make occasional appearances with the Justice Society. The creators of the Justice Society were Sheldon Mayer and Gardner Fox. This comic is still published by DC Comics as of summer 2010.


The renowned characters Charlie Brown, Snoopy the Dog, Linus, Lucy and Peppermint Patty were in the comic strip "Peanuts," which debuted in 1950. Charles Schultz, a Minnesota native, was the creator of the comic strip. "Peanuts" was the more popularised revision of "Lil' Folks," a strip Schultz started in 1947. The comic strip's storyline centred around the childhood shenanigans of Charlie Brown and his friends. Universal Press Syndicate published "Peanuts" from 1950 to 2000, shortly after Schultz's passing.

Western Comics

The popularity of the Old West in entertainment and comic books during the 1950s merged to form a genre known as Western comics. One of the most known Western comics was Marvel Comics' "Kid Colt, Outlaw," which was in publication from 1948 to 1979. The comic's story was based on Blaine Colt, an American western cowboy known as Kid Colt, and his trusty horse, Steel. Other Western comics in the '50s were based on real life personalities such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Wild Bill Hancock. The '50s also saw the emergence of the Lone Ranger, a fictional U.S. ranger who wore a mask during his adventures.

Sunday Comics

The early and mid-1940s saw the creation of espionage and hero Sunday morning comic strips, due to U.S. involvement of World War II. "Brenda Starr," "Garth" -- a British-based comic strip -- and "Claire Voyant" were examples of strips where the protagonist were involved in dangerous missions. More lighthearted comic strips invaded U.S. newspapers in the late '40s and '50s after the War was over. One long-lasting comic strip, "Gordo," ran from the '40s to the '80s; this comic offered insight into the Mexican bean farmer and his everyday life in Mexico. Some other lighthearted Sunday comics were "Beetle Bailey," "Dennis the Menace," and "Hi and Lois."

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About the Author

Skip Davis has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has appeared in "Southern Literary Magazine," on various websites and in graphic panels at the Jackson Zoological Park in Jackson, Miss. Currently living in Southern California, Davis received his Bachelor of Arts in theater at Belhaven College.