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Thursday, 14 June 2018

BOOK REVIEW #3: The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy

Welcome to my third book review, The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy, A Collection of High-Seas Stories from Comics' Most Daring Sailor!

The Best of Don WInslow of the Navy.
Publisher: Dead Reckoning, U.S. Naval Institute
Welcome to my third book review! This time, the book I will present and review here isn’t actually a literature book but a book collection of the best stories from a famous American comic! This comic is the classic Fawcett run of Don Winslow of the Navy, one of the most popular comics running during and after World War II! Don Winslow of the Navy was introduced to the American public in March, 1934, originally as a comic strip in newspapers in the ‘30s and ‘40s. The comic magazine, as it was known at the time, was launched in February, 1943, by Fawcett Publications containing the original stories of Don Winslow in the form of short stories. The Don Winslow of the Navy comic was originally created by Frank V. Martinek, Lt. Commander in U.S. Naval Intelligence in order to stimulate the interest of young Americans about military life and thus to foster recruitment (especially in the Navy), as well as to entertain and engage military audiences and the general public. Somebody can imagine how exciting or mysterious a life on the sea would be to people from the Midwestern United States and Mountain United States, many of whom might not have even seen the ocean.


Frank V. Martinek, creator of Don
Winslow of the Navy,
1937.
Don Winslow of the Navy movie serial
A career in the Navy would be a great opportunity for many young people in the 1930s, when the Great Depression was taking place, the longest and most severe worldwide economic depression of the 20th century. The Don Winslow newspaper comic strip, with the hero and his friends dressed in their spectacular uniforms, eager to solve mysteries in thrilling high-seas tales around the world to the aid of their county, was the ideal recruiting “device” of the U.S. Navy! It is a comic strip focused on American naval tradition that educated and fascinated America’s youth. Don Winslow of the Navy had a remarkable 21-year run in the comics, holding a nice place on the comics as a U.S. Government-accepted Military strip during the subsequent World War II years. Appearances in books, radio series and twelve-episode movie serial boosted its success. His creator, Frank V. Martinek, would claim from time to time that he consciously created Don Winslow to warn of the great threat of war. He saw the comic strip as a medium of great significance for distributing messages of vital importance. And he succeeded to get his messages across America and to reflect the life of American sailors back then.

Don Winslow, Comics' Most Daring Sailor
Don Winslow was a Naval Intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy just like his creator. Don is the best agent that the Navy has and possibly the best agent any of the armed forces has. He would be placed in the most dreadful of situations and fight evil nemeses bent on world domination throughout the lifetime of the strip. The hero fought Nazis, Imperial Japanese, and various enemies of the United States such as super villains like the Scorpion, Don’s greatest adversary, the Falcon, the Snake, the deadly pirate Singapore Sal, gangsters, enemy agents, smugglers, saboteurs, assassins, amazons and so on! Don Winslow is everywhere and fights every bad guy there is! His loyal friend and sidekick, Lt. Red Pennington, and Mercedes Colby, Don’s romantic interest and the beautiful daughter of his commanding officer and mentor, Admiral Colby, , were usually at his side helping out.  Don is tall, stalwart, handsome, All-American, moral, intelligent, a patriot, and perfect in every way! A hero who uses his cleverness and special abilities to investigate crimes and solve mysteries, is certainly more realistic than the superhero comics of that era. Fawcett’s comic lasted up until 1948 after the publication of 64 issues. In 1951, Fawcett published five more issues (#65 – 69) and ceased publication. In 1955 Charlton revived the comic temporarily by publishing reprints of the series for just four issues (#70-73) before it ended permanently in July 1955.

Why am I telling you all this? Because Dead Reckoning, an imprint of Naval Institute Press, the book-publishing arm of the U.S. Naval Institute, will launch with four graphic novels in September 2018, including a reprint collection of the Don Winslow of the Navy (the Fawcett comics, not the Newspaper strip)! Titled The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy and edited by Craig Yoe, a multiple Eisner Award winner and winner of numerous other awards (Mobius, Ghastly Normanton Award, Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, a.o.), the selected stories are digitally restored and contextualized with Craig's historical research and introduction. Preceding the full, colorful adventures is a detailed introduction on the creation of the daring Don Winslow. This is a premiere 272-page package with more than 20 digitally restored entertaining vintage adventures! The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy is available as hardcover here ($29.95 or $17.97 member price). Do not miss this opportunity to own such a classic of American comics with one of the most popular and successful characters from the Golden Age of comics; you will definitely enjoy it!

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