Comic Book Legends Revealed #473
COMIC LEGEND: The British Ministry of Information kept Ham Fisher abreast of General Montgomery’s progress during the Battle of Tunisia so Fisher could keep up in his Joe Palooka comic.
Ham Fisher’s Joe Palooka was one of the most popular comic strips in the world for a time during the 1930s and 1940s.
It was particularly popular in the United Kingdom. The London Star carried the strip in England but due to a newsprint shortage because of the War, the paper dropped the strip in 1939. The reaction was dramatic. They quickly changed their mind, sending the following classic message to the comic syndicates:
“War or no war, space or no space, London demands Joe Palooka,” it read. “Please ship by Clipper immediately.”
Eventually, when the United States joined World War II, so, too, did Joe Palooka.
He eventually fought in North Africa as part of the Tunisia Campaign where famed British General Montgomery successfully led Allied troops (primarily British) in the region.
Once again, Palooka’s popularity led to an interesting reaction from the British.
The British Ministry of Information would actually directly keep Fisher informed about General Montgomery’s progress in Tunisia so that Fisher could try to keep the Palooka strip current, so that he would have time to try to plan the end of the campaign in the strip to coincide with the actual end of the campaign in real life.
The strip was considered to be a major morale booster among the military (The Stars and Stripes referred to Palooka as “a soldier’s best friend.”), so I suppose they felt that it wouldn’t look right to see Palooka still fighting in the comics after the campaign was finished. I guess it WOULD affect the verisimilitude of the strip, which was something that the troops really seemed to respond to.
On the next page, learn the story of how the comic book classic tale “Master Race” came about…