“Cameras and Young People Belong Together”: Camera Comics (1944-46) as an imaginative, ideological and commercial space for addressing and depicting American child photographers

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Abstract

In 1944, U. S. Camera Company, the force behind one of the largest circulation photography magazines, launched Camera Comics for children. At the heart of every ten-cent issue was Kid Click, a teenage “shutterbug” whose camera helped him overcome bullies at summer camp, to uncover Nazi spy rings, and to bring armed robbers to justice. The character provided a neat segue to the rotogravure illustrated and textual pages of Camera Comics that offered photographic guidance for children, including tips for building camera gadgets at home and winning school competitions. Photographs by “typical American boys” – real-life Kid Clicks – abutted camera advertisements aimed at the same.
Camera Comics imagined and addressed US child photographers via a distinctive set of gendered and nationalistic narratives, offering an illuminating comic-themed case study in a much wider and longer story of how cultural expectations of cameras and children have been ideologically constructed to intersect. This article offers a close reading of the extant nine issues of the comic and a comparison with parallel issues of U. S. Camera magazine, along with other primary sources that aligned children with photography in the period. These are contextualised with secondary literature on comics, photographic history, and childhood studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Jun 2024

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