Vic enforces politeness. Artist: Elmer Wexler.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Appearing in: PM
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: "Paine" (Kermit Jadiker and Charles Zerner) (writer) and Elmer Wexler (artist)
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There was a great deal of American interest in the war in Europe, even before the U.S. got involved following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In comic books, creators had already chosen sides, with heroes like Captain America and The Star-Spangled Kid fighting Germans and …

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… their deeds long before their armed forces started doing so. Vic Jordan barely got in under the wire, becoming involved in the conflict on a personal basis from the very start of his comic strip, which was Monday, December 1, 1941 — so close to America's entry into the war, that by the time the Sunday version debuted, the Japanese bombs were already falling in Hawaii.

The story opened the previous summer, with Vic in Paris, an American doing publicity work for a French performing troupe. To help put their show in U.S. newspapers, he had one of the singers do an act in which she did a comedy impression of Hitler. The Nazis who were ocupying that city at the time promptly shut them down, and before long, Vic was on the run from the Germans.

The cast had included a woman who was doing undercover work for the British, and she and Vic helped each other get in touch with the French Resistance. This led to adventure after adventure — blowing up munitions dumps, sabotaging railroad lines, guerilla attacks on submarine bases, etc. At one point, Vic actually entered Germany itself, and impersonated a Gestapo officer.

The strip ran in the New York newspaper PM (which launched Claire Voyant a couple of years later). It was written by two reporters, Kermit Jaekiker and Charles Zerner, who don't have any other credits in comics. They used the pseudonym "Paine", after Founding Father Thomas Paine. It was drawn by comic book veteran Elmer "Ed" Wexler (Miss America). Wexler enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1942, and was replaced by Paul Norris (Aquaman). But Norris, too, soon went off to war, and was replaced by David Moneypenny, who doesn't have other comics credits. Finally, Moneypenny was succeeded by Bernard Baily (The Spectre).

Unlike many comics that used World War II as their backdrops, Vic Jordan actually ended when World War II did. On Sunday, April 29, 1945, Vic made his final appearance. The Monday paper carried a note from PM editor John P. Lewis, explaining that Vic's adventures were over. Readers would recall that Vic had been wounded recently, so he was back home, resting up.

And so, unlike Airboy, Spy Smasher and any number of other adventurers who owed their adventurous lifestyles to the war, Vic Jordan got his well-deserved retirement from adventuring.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © PM.