Coming up later this year from McFarland & Company Publishers is a new book which examines 1960s cartoons from the perspective of the Vietnam War. Unlike the 1940s (or today for that matter) I don’t recall many animated films (commercial or independent) that even came close to reflecting the war in Vietnam. There were several that focused on the hippie movement (MARVIN DIGS, HURTS AND FLOWERS, et al.), but there was certainly nothing on Saturday morning or in feature length productions.Racking my brain, only two theatrical war-themed cartoons come to mind (not counting the ongoing war between Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales): The Pink Panther in PINK PANZER (1965) has a war overtone with the Panther’s escalating battle against his neighbor, an ultra-miltaristic Little Man; and Warner Bros. release of Ken Mundie’s independent anti-war short, THE DOOR (1967) (1968’s G.I. PINK has the Panther being drafted into the Army, but it’s as topical of the war as an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC). I welcome the opportunity to be reminded of other cartoons of the era which reflected the actual Vietnam conflict.I look forward to reading what Lehman has to say. According to this interview with the author:
Lehman says: “Cartoons of the Vietnam Era were political and reflected their times. They were more subtle in the message that the films of the World War II but political nonetheless.” During his book research Lehman notices that cartoons changed to violent when the U.S. aimed for military victory in Vietnam and they became nonviolent when the goal shifted to military withdrawal.
American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A study of social commentary in films and television programs, 1961-1973 will be published in November. Lehman is currently working on his second book The Colored Cartoon which will focus on African American cartoon characters of animation’s first 50 years. A 2001 article by Lehman (from the Journal of Popular Film and Television, Summer 2001) discussing Black Animated Images of 1946 is worth a read.