Prevalence of Spies
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The possible presence of foreign agents preoccupied Americans in 1940-41. I
included eight cartoons featuring female spies in 2014 Revised TR/AP (pp. 16-17). I
also included cartoons of Japanese acting as spies on the "Coverage of Japan" page.
Below are still more examples. In the following cartoons, the secondary messages are
more important than the primary “jokes.”
The secondary message in this case was that commanding officers were so dense
that spies who had joined the U.S. Army had to be goose-stepping during marches for
the brass to notice.
What’s funny about this captionless cartoon was that the military housed actual
agents in its file drawers. However, another message was that agents had infiltrated
the security systems intended to stop them and were reading their own files. The
hostile look on the agent’s face (see closeup on right) indicated his irritation at being
Even children were militarized and had to be watched.
Did this cartoon portray a German child? Perhaps, but not likely. Instead, the
disturbing message was that while mothers obliviously pushed carriages in the
background, their children emulated the heroic exploits of Nazi U-boat captains.
No wonder Americans needed to be awakened to the importance of purchasing
defense bonds by encountering Hitler in the Post Office.
Tokyo Rose /
A Dual Biography