Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Visit the Midday Edition homepage

Learning About The History Of Pearl Harbor Through Comics

December 7, 2016 1:35 p.m.

Learning About The History Of Pearl Harbor Through Comics


Jay Wertz, author, "Pearl Harbor And The Day of Infamy"

Related Story: Learning About The History Of Pearl Harbor Through Comics


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

And historical comic book basis for Pearl Harbor to a new generation. Marti Emerald talks about her eight years of a San Diego city Council member. This is KPBS Midday Edition.
I am Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Wednesday, December 7. Our top story on Midday Edition come today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Resident Franklyn Roosevelt spoke to a joint session of Congress on the day after the attack.
December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
This morning in San Diego Pearl Harbor survivors including 99-year-old Clayton Schenkel Burke honored in a ceremony at the USS Midway Museum.
It is great to see so many people still remember.
What is still living memory for our oldest citizens is noticed in history for many younger Americans. A new form of history writing is trying to connect younger readers with the events of Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor And The Day of Infamy is a 24 page comic book explain the context and showing the severity of the attack spoke with Jay Wertz who has written multiple books about World War II and is the author of, the Pearl Harbor comic book. You are -- URA World War II historian. Why did you decide directly copy for this comic book?
It by specialized in it -- I specialize in a form of history. That is taking with research from a great academic historian over many generations and modern material we have now and putting it in a form that appeals to the public so I felt that some of the other works that had or perhaps not in the breach of current students at middle school, high school each site tried to reach out to them in a different form in the comic book form something they are familiar with, of the super hero movies that are available now. Make it in a juice drip what happened on the day that shall live in infamy and do it in such a form that would be entertaining and yet informative and also be interesting to adults as well.
How did you go about telling the story in this form? Did you for instance include the background for the attack?
I did. I started basically with the rise of Japan as a modern technological culture coming from a background of a very militaristic feudal system that someone spilled over into their entrance into the modern age after Commodore Perry visited, in the opening up of Japan in 1853. We start to show how Japan accelerated in technology and in warfare and then they started to expand into Asia, particularly China he did things that the international community did not favor including the United States. We start with that, we held about, and build it up as it expands rapidly in the IDF what to do in their mines with the United States to keep the United States from interfering with their plans for expansion in Asia. Them right up until the detailed planning and finding the activities of the days before the surprise attack and then the attack itself in the aftermath which also of course spilled over into the Philippines and much of East Asia.
Jay one of the challenges resented by this format?
Like a lot of things of course being in its brevity there will always be some points that perhaps should have been emphasized that aren't. I tried to include all of the major events and as well some personal stories. Naturally there are going to be those who will look at it within a very -- with a very critical I and they may object to certain illustrations. We tried to be as accurate as possible but it is a comic book so there's a certain amount that the real detail that we could not necessarily includes. I think it comes are pretty effectively. Those are the main things and I guess the other thing is trying to get both the traditional comic book audience and you don't that in San Diego, as well as the World War II and history audience to accept that this is something different and it has something for everybody.
I was going to ask you this because older Americans, they tend to think of comic books like something light and silly. To think there is a possibility they will take offense at putting something so serious and so challenging in the form of a comic book?
There will be some I am sure. Most of the folks that I have shown it to let say of my generation and the greatest generation who have seen it so far and I had an opportunity to show it to quite a few of them on the recent Los Angeles to San Diego Pearl Harbor train car ran this past Saturday. They generally reacted quite favorably. It is not too unusual because there were of course character -- caricatures, comic strips in a few comic books during the World War II period that did portray the realism of the war period and the war going on. It was not something that was totally unfamiliar format to them I think they readily accept the fact that the communication is there and that we strive for accuracy, DC the story will continue to be told.
I've been speaking with Jay Wertz, author of the new comic book/graphic history called, Pearl Harbor And The Day of Infamy. Thank you Jay.