Northwestern history prof publishes article

Dr. Michael Kugler, professor of history at Northwestern College, recently published an article in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth.  

Kugler’s article, “A Nebraska Boy’s Comic Strip History of World War II,” features a large collection of comic strips drawn by his father, who grew up in Lexington, Neb., in the 1940s.

About half of the comics depict an alternate history to the Pacific War with animals—frogs and toads—as the soldiers.

“In the essay, I try to explain the different comic book, movie and radio influences on his art,” says Kugler. “I also make an argument about what such stories, which are often darkly humorous, might suggest about what a Midwest boy thought of the war, the school system and small-town life during an epic age of American history.”

Some of the comics also convey how depictions of the war in popular cultures helped to encourage a preference for the horror comics that became popular in the late 1940s.

The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth explores the development of childhood cultures and experiences of young people across diverse times and places. The journal is published on behalf of the Society for the History of Children and Youth and the Johns Hopkins University Press.

A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 1994, Kugler teaches courses in European history from the Reformation through the modern era. He holds research interests in historical narrative in a variety of forms, including formal history, film and graphic novels, and the history of incarnational theology.

A graduate of Judson Baptist College in Portland, Ore., Kugler earned a master’s degree from Western Washington University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.