Volto: Ace Racist

Filth Biscuit: Volto, Ace Racist

About This Comic
It’s remarkable that without any rewrite this comic is already a perfect example of mid-20th century racist assumptions. In this comic ad, the Africans have no dialog (thus, literally no voice or influence), and without any idea of the context of the chase, Volto charges in to save the white folk and uses his power to casually tip the native canoe into the river. Since all we can see of the aftermath in the fourth panel is an upended boat, we’re left to assume that the Africans might have drowned — not that Volto or the explorers care.

Jungle Jim

Jungle Jim, Copyright 1934, King Features Syndicate

This 1945 ad for Post Grape-Nuts Flakes was aimed at young boys. And the context in which such ads appeared was boys’ adventure comics, which often featured intrepid white explorers trekking into Darkest Africa in search of lost cities filled with gold (cities that were sometimes even populated with lost Caucasian tribes possessing strange occult powers or advanced technology). Africans were typically portrayed as animalistic, violent, spear-hurling natives; or when good (i.e helping white people), were perfectly loyal, subservient followers, like muscular Kolu in Alex Raymond’s Sunday newspaper strip Jungle Jim, who referred to his boss as “massah.” Raymond was most famous for creating Flash Gordon, and was a brilliant draftsman; but his racial politics, to put it mildly, were as unsophisticated as those of his contemporaries (Jungle Jim was written by pulp author Don Moore, who with Raymond, also co-wrote Flash Gordon, but was uncredited)

The colonial assumption that non-whites were incapable of self-government was a sad historic fact, and one that was the amoral foundation for colonial exploitation, slavery, and imperialist expansion around the world for hundreds of years. It’s worthwhile noting, since this is an ad for a corporate product, that colonial governments worked hand-in-glove with private corporations to maximize profits; corporate profits were specifically backed by the military might of garrisoned troops, both sent from the motherland and recruited locally (for example, the Nepalese Gurkhas, who so fiercely fought against the East India Company, that once the dust had settled the company hired them as mercenaries).

But Volto doesn’t give a shit about history; he just wants to make sure you eat a balanced breakfast. Murder is just collateral damage.

Also: What’s up with Jimmy’s face in the last panel?
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