Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pander Bear

I haven't spent much time discussing funny animal-type comics on this blog so far. Of course, funny animal comics were not a huge segment of the Silver Age with a few notable exceptions (Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Fox & Crow). DC published only the latter during almost the entire decade of the 1960s in the funny animal genre; I don't think Marvel even had a funny animal series.

But in the 1950s there were quite a few more young children around. In July-August 1953, DC launched Peter Panda, an oddball series that seemed designed to appeal more to parents than to kids. Where most funny animal series involve only animals, Peter had two human friends, Jimmy and Jane.

The stories mostly revolved around one or the both of the kids doing something wrong, that inevitably leads to (somewhat wacky) trouble. Fortunately, the wrong-doer quickly learns his lesson and Peter Panda arrives to save the day.

Kids doing something wrong:

Wacky trouble:

Panda to the rescue, lesson learned:

What, Pandas have helicopters too?

Of course, the astounding part about reading these comics is wondering how the intended readers reacted. Kids hate being lectured to, and Peter does a lot of lecturing:

One presumes that the comic was really being marketed to mothers as a way of teaching your children lessons. But what weird lessons--don't abuse machinery because you might get taken to Gadgetville and forced to stand trial? Don't skip dinner for ice cream because you might be forced to eat trucks full of ice cream? Eat your vegetables or you might get taken to the Land of the Vegetables and forced to stand trial? These poor kids were brought up on phony charges in almost every issue; wonder what lesson was being imparted there?