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Government Comics

Cartoons and comic books published by government agencies; also government publications that discuss cartoons and comics.

Government Comics Published in Sets or Series

Many government comics have been published as part of a finite set of related volumes or as part of a continuing series related to a specific theme. 

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Consumer Credit Information Series

The New York Fed’s Educational Comic Book Series teaches students about basic economic principles and the Federal Reserve’s role in the financial system. Created for students at the middle school, high school, and introductory college levels, the series is intended to stimulate their curiosity and raise their awareness of careers in economics and finance. Lesson plans created for each comic book meet national and state standards for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

The New York Fed has published comic books since the 1950s, updating the style and stories for new generations as the old editions become dated. Many of these comics are available in Spanish. The comics were distributed through mail order until 2006, when publication was discontinued. The series was revived as an online publication in 2017, this time with an outer space theme. Although the comic books are intended for a student audience, they are also available to the public.

For a behind-the-scenes look at how these comics are made, see "From Frame to Frame: The Making of a Comic Book Series," by Jennifer Kahn and Thomas Bayne. 

Federal Trade Commission: Fotonovelas

The Federal Trade Commission is the nation’s consumer protection agency. Its mission is to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive practices. These "fotonovelas" are based on complaints the FTC has received from Spanish speakers throughout the nation and offer practical tips to help detect and stop common scams targeting the Latinx community. For more information, and to order free copies to distribute in your community, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/fotonovela.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Astrobiology: A History of Exobiology and Astrobiology at NASA

Begun in 2010 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of NASA's Exobiology Program, this series of graphic history books explores the many facets of astrobiology—the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the Universe. NASA's Exobiology Program was established in 1960 and expanded into a broader Astrobiology Program in the 1990s. Though this field is relatively young, the questions that astrobiologists are trying to answer are as old as humankind.

The running series title on the cover of each issue is given as Astrobiology: The Story of Our Search for Life in the Universe.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service: Whobuddies Adventures

Created by the late NRCS District Conservationist Brad Harrison, with art by Rodgon, the Whobuddies are six unique owl cartoon characters who really care about the environment. Each Whobuddy specializes on a particular resource. The natural resources include: soil, water, air, animals, plants, and energy. 

As their mild mannered selves, the Whobuddies like to teach others about how important it is to conserve and protect our precious natural resources.

When needed, the Whobuddies combine their resources with each other to become their super selves and jump into action to get conservation on the ground. While getting conservation on the land is their main super power, they each also have secondary powers. The Whobuddies' names are the actual genus name the owl species belongs to.

U.S. Department of Defense: "Sense" Series of Training Manuals

During World War II the Aviation Training Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations produced a series of training manuals that each featured the word Sense in the title. The "Sense" series continued into the 1960s as a series of training pamphlets issued by the Department of the Army. No author or illustrator is credited, but they were all illustrated by satirical cartoonist Robert Chesley Osborn.

U.S. Department of Defense, Armed Forces Information and Education Division: Citizenship Series Picture Story Books

After World War II, the Department of Defense commissioned Harvey Publications to create the Citizenship Series—a series of "picture story books" (i.e., comic books) designed to teach the general public how to be good citizens. There were a total of five books in the series, but for some reason they were numbered 2 through 6. 

In the 1940s political indoctrination was the responsibility of the Office of the Chief of Information (OCINFO). In 1950 the Defense Department created the Armed Forces Information and Education Division (AFIED) to oversee OCINFO and other internal information programs. Originally a division of the Defense Department's Personnel Policy Board, AFIED was moved to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Personnel) in 1951, and in 1952 AFIED changed its name to Office of Armed Forces Information and Education (OAFIE). (Political Indoctrination in the U.S. Army from World War II to the Vietnam War, by Christopher S. DeRosa, pp. 91–92.)

U.S. Department of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS): Photonovelas

The NIAMS offers these free bilingual fotonovelas as part of its efforts to provide communities with reliable health information on preventing and managing sports injuries and osteoporosis. Both fotonovelas appeal to audiences of all reading levels, offer information and practical everyday tips about sports injuries and bone health, and are free to order individually or in bulk quantities. Go to the NIAMS Fotonovelas webpage to order paper copies or to read them them online. You’ll also find resources such as sample Facebook and Twitter posts that you can use to help spread the word about NIAMS fotonovelas to your communities on social media.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Special Trustee for the American Indians: Empowerment $aga Series

The Empowerment $aga is a series of stories created by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) to engage youth 14–18 years of age in developing basic financial skills so they will learn how to build and preserve their own financial wealth. These stories, based on an original concept by J.P. Barham, written by Red Rose Elk, and illustrated by Matthew Barkhausen in colorful comic-style graphics, are reservation-based in order to bring “home” to Native youth the message of handling their finances from an early age. The original images of the characters featured in this series were created by freelance illustrator Joseph Arnold

The story begins with shape-shifters, four birds—Eagle, Raven, Hawk, and Owl—perched on telephone lines on the outskirts of the Native community. They are spiritual helpers to a group of teens—Shining Star, Theresa, Ranger, and Jay. These young teens learn financial resources as they embark on many adventures, and encounter intrigue in the process!

In addition to the comic books, the Empowerment $aga series includes an accompanying Coloring Book.

Empowerment Saga Coloring Book (cover)

U.S. Department of War: Foreign Language Phrase Books

These brief technical manuals listed words and phrases appropriate to situations that American military personnel were likely to find themselves in while serving overseas during World War II. Phonetic pronunciation guides give a general idea of what the words sound like, but vinyl records also accompanied the texts, and interaction with live native speakers was encouraged. 

Cartoon illustrations added a touch of humor.

      

 

All the cartoonists are anonymous, but the illustrations in the Japanese and Dutch phrase-books are recognizably the work of Walt Kelly, who drew the Our Gang comic strip and later created Pogo.

  

 

Ham Fisher's illustrations appear in the Danish, Russian, and Serbo-Croation phrase-books, as does his popular character Joe Palooka.

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