Is This Tomorrow? Today? Communist Fears and Comic Books

Control and fear go hand in hand, and with the Cold War defining an entire generation's worldview from the mid-1940s through the early 1990s, the idea of the "red scare" bled into nearly every aspect of society. "Better dead than red" became a slogan during the Cold War, with the color being the metaphorical representation of communism. Even allegations of secret government deals and Russian collusion were rampant through the United State's own recent election, with the former and latter plaguing the Trump administration's entire four-year term.

Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.
Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.

The government during the 1950s was defined in large part by McCarthyism, named for Senator Joseph McCarthy's campaign to seek out communists hiding within the United States and have them tried for subversion or treason. While the red scare slowly infiltrated various parts of the American public, including government institutions, it isn't surprising that not even comic books were safe from the sweeping generalizations of what life in America would be if they lost the war against Communism.

Panels from Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.
Panels from Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.

Various comics at this time attempted to show children the importance of vigilance, including titles such as How Stalin Hopes We Will Destroy America and The Red Iceberg. In his book about comic art propaganda, Fredrik Strömberg specifically highlighted the Catechetical Guild's 1947 comic called Is This Tomorrow? With over four million copies sold and even more given away, this comic book represents every sensationalist view of what terrors a Communist government could bring. This comic series lays the propaganda on thick beginning even with an extremely foreboding message on its inside cover-

Today, there are approximately 85,000 official members of the Communist Party in the United States. There are hundreds of additional members whose names are not carried on the Party roles because acting as disciplined fifth columnists of the Kremlin, they have wormed their way into key positions in government offices, trade unions, and other positions of public trust.
Communists themselves claim that for every official Party member, there are ten others ready, willing, and able to do the Party's bidding.
These people are working day and night – laying the groundwork to overthrow YOUR GOVERNMENT!
The average American is prone to say, "It Can't Happen Here." Millions of people in other countries used to say the same thing.
Today, they are dead – or living in Communist slavery. IT MUST NOT HAPPEN HERE!

Panels from Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.
Panels from Is This Tomorrow, Catechetical Guild Educational Society, 1947.

Although the original author of Is This Tomorrow? is unknown, the comic's primary rhetoric could be anything pulled from any extreme publication in the current news cycle. Warnings of the media being in cahoots with sinister shadow government spread across various pages in the comic, along with depictions of teachers banishing God from their classrooms. Communism wasn't at the forefront of fears in the 2020 presidential election, but substitute socialism into the political discourse and

Is This Tomorrow? becomes a current social commentary. While the comic's primary purpose wasn't to predict current life in America, it is a sobering look into how the boogeymen of the world tend to reflect the same values; and that what the United States fears most is anything other than capitalism.

About Chelsy Bloomfield

Chelsy Bloomfield is an artist, cosplayer, writer, and comic book aficionado. She is the founder of Utah’s Graphic Novel Book Club, the first of its kind in Utah, and has hosted monthly meetings since 2011. If she is not writing or preparing for the next book club meeting, she can be found yelling about conspiracy theories on the internet or playing with her perfect puppy, Puffin.
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