We have come to associate animation with fun and laughter. It is that artform we read in the Sunday comics that makes us chuckle and on Saturday morning television that magnetizes our children as it once did us (assuming we are baby boomers or younger). It is entertainment in its purest form; an artform highly specialized despite its simplicity. Animation is characterized by simple lines and curves, little or no shading nor texture, and exaggeration of physical features. It can be rendered in a single drawing, strung together as in a comic strip or overlapping and successive as in a cartoon.

During WWII animation was an ideal artform to communicate to a weary, stressed civilian and military population about topics that were not altogether pleasing in general. After all, what better way to teach a group of individuals than in a humorous manner by which they can laugh at things they would not ordinarily laugh at. Take for example the serious subject of boobytraps. Sit down a person in front of a graphic movie of what happens to a body when a boobytrap is triggered and you are sure to get your message across. But at the same time instilling too much fear is detrimental to morale. Better, create a cartoon character named SNAFU who is a happy-go-lucky clueless G.I. and have him trigger a booby trap. The message gets across without the fear and loss of morale. It was also effective training G.I.'s about topics very personal such as VD. Its easier and more effective to create a cartoon with a promiscuous SNAFU than to have a staff sergeant sit down in a heart to heart talk with a group of G.I.'s. Animation was thus used very effectively during WWII to train cadres of troops on such topics.

Animation also served to allow us to laugh at our enemies; to belittle them and take away their venom reducing them to conquerable mortals. The Axis leaders were a favorite subject of animators and helped us identify the enemy, exaggerate our differences, instill a healthy hatred, and view them as weaker and deserving of loss. Animated renditions of hitler, mussolini, tojo, and hirohito were found on every class of product from the period. They are perhaps the most memorable of all artforms from WWII.

The war dragged on and good news was slow in coming. Rationing cinched its belt around the civilian population, war work wore them out, and loved ones were dying in record numbers overseas. What was really needed by those run down homefronters was a good laugh. Animation provided this much needed release and became a cornerstone in the day to day survival of civilians.

WWII animation appears in all forms and is heavily collected. Some items are very valuable, particularly those items that are cross collectible such as Disney. They are vibrant, humorous, and make for a fabulous display. All good homefront collections have a healthy dose of animation. We hope you enjoy our animation archive rendered in slideshow format.

Animation Slideshow Part One

Animation Slideshow Part Two