#0069: Eat Right To Work and Win (1942)
Following up from yesterday's notes about the Sampling Frame, I got asked: what is it?
The Sampling Frame is our document that lists every comic book published in the United States between 1934 and 2014 according to the criteria that we established for this project. It is just a huge list in an Excel spreadsheet of Title, Number, Year, and Publisher that allows us to distinguish 176,275 comic books without any duplication or omission (ideally).
To establish our Corpus, we randomly selected comic books from that Sampling Frame eighty-one times, once for each of the eighty years included. When we did the randomization, what we did was enter the number range of rows that represented a single year (for 1942 that range is 2985-4064) and then generated a randomized non-repeating list of integers representing two per cent of the numbers within that range. Then we highlighted the selected rows in the spreadsheet and moved on to the process of acquiring the books.
I'll be honest. I won't tell you that I wasn't occasionally tempted to falsify the selection. As I scrolled to the next integer through the Excel spreadsheet, I'd see that we had narrowly missed I book I found personally interesting by one or two numbers and I would think "who would even know if I just changed it?". But I never did. Random had to mean random. The proof, if you need it, is that the randomization process produced back-to-back five hundred page reprint books. If I were going to rig the process, the very first thing I would have changed would have been to remove that ridiculous amount of labour, trust me!
The occasional thrill of compiling our corpus, however, was when the randomization hit something I had become genuinely curious about during the construction of the Sampling Frame. Book number 0069 is one such instance. What, I wondered, could this comic, produced by the Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services during the Second World War, even be? Imagine my joy, then, when it was picked. And, again, after we found a copy after a long search.
It turns out to be really weird. It will undoubtedly wind up as one of the most anomalous books in the corpus. It is a sixteen-page nutrition guide that recommends eating an egg per day, and drinking a pint or more of milk per day as an adult. It is mostly typeset text, but at the top of most of the pages there is an original two-panel comic strip featuring the characters and artists from King Features (Blondie, Flash Gordon, Thimble Theatre, Brining Up Father...).
This is the type of thing that most people would not classify as a comic book and which we classify that way because it appears in all three of our data sources (which is our pre-requisite).
I'm now wondering what would happen to me if I switched to 1942's official diet? The dairy industry was big back then...