Thursday, July 13, 2017


There is probably no more iconic piece of American wartime propaganda than Rosie the Riveter. Not only has she persisted as a symbol of feminism and the strength of the American woman (physical and financial, really), but it touched that nerve immediately. It didn't take long after the poster was distributed to the public that its eponymous character was represented in film and song and, for that matter, in a scatter-shot comic book character from War Victory Comics vol.1 No.3 and All-New Comics vol.1 No.10. Both are from Harvey Comics, but it's still hard to keep up if you're a fan.

Actually, there were at least four Rosie the Riveters at different companies by different creators, so immediately affecting was the idea. Of this quartet (at a minimum, it might be a full marching band for all I know), Harvey's Rosie combined the tough-as-nails wildcat with the detective skills of an amateur Sherlock, and the requisite Axis-busting sideline -- plus an extraordinary knowledge of cheese pairings.

As many of these stories do, Rosie's brief adventure begins by having to slug the tar out of a chauvinist foundry worker in order to gain his respect and the respect of her male peers. Imagine if women still had to do this, except at, say, Yahoo or Amazon. Hell, I'm for it, now that I think about it.

This guy hates roof gardens.
The slugged sexist in question -- "Butch," a hulking dope with a whisk broom mustache -- ends up becoming something of Rosie's sidekick, which is handy as Axis spies have stolen secret plans from the company safe and hidden them on the premises for later extraction.

Here's their fatal flaw, though: They leave behind their lunch litter. Rosie stumbles across a wrapper formerly encasing a hunk of limburger cheese, and identifies the delicatessen from which it originates, solely from the smell. Armed with the foreknowledge that limburger goes best with pumperknickel bread, Rosie proceeds to a local bakery, which leads her to a cheese store, where the spies congregate. A victory against fascism, thanks to stinky cheese!

But wait, that's not all -- Rosie's got an arm on her, as well as something of a mouth. When the cornered spies lob a grenade at assembled cops, Rosie douses the explosive with a well-aimed hunk of leftover limburger, intercepting it in mid-air.

There may have been multiple Rose the Riveters, but only one defeated Ratzi agents with a hunk of gross milk solids. Why don't they have a medal for that?

I have so many questions, not the least of which involves the criteria for getting a tickertape parade.
Rosie's second adventure is a little less dire and action-packed, she merely has to deal with a broken watch in a lunchpail tricking plant security into thinking there's a bomb nearby. I guess that's the one-in, one-out quality -- you have to engender a bomb panic if you quell a bomb panic. That's how it goes.

Harvey produced a third Rosie the Riveter adventure, apparently by the same artist and using the same patter and pacing, in Green Hornet Comics vol.1 No.10. This is probably the same Rosie, but this time she's blonde (she does mention having just got back from a beauty salon). If nothing else, she also gets involved with war espionage -- she's assigned to carry a special invention from the factory to the U.S. War Office, while along the way dispensing with all sorts of Nazi troublemakers. It was worth it, though, as by way of reward she manages to get a nice new hat to go with her favorite suit. America truly rewards its heroes.

1 comment:

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Your mention of Rosie as a blond sparked my memory of Trina Robbins' ROSIE strips from the 70s. My favorite showed us Rosie putting the brakes on an Axis plot to replace Hollywood stars with Nazi robot duplicates. I fell in love with her that day...

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