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Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945
by Ian Gordon
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Contending that comic strips contributed to the expansion of a mass consumer culture driven by visual images, Ian Gordon shows how, in addition to embellishing a wide array of goods with personalities, the comics themselves increasingly promoted consumerist values and upward mobility. He details how "Gasoline Alley" advocated the enjoyment of cars and how 1920s working girl Winnie Winkle became an avid seeker of a middle-class lifestyle. Documenting the invention of the comic book in the 1940s, Gordon also describes the emergence of a super-licensed Superman, whose girlfriend Lois Lane even went on a shopping spree during a period of wartime rationing.Emerging just as Americans were beginning to define themselves less by what they made and believed and more by what they bought, comic strips were from the outset commodities sold by syndicates to newspapers nationwide. Ian Gordon demonstrates that the strips' most enduring role has been not only to mirror a burgeoning consumer culture but also to actively promote it.
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