what's your b.q.? *brotherhood quotient

Vintage Ad #1,040: What's Your B.Q.?

Our Army at War #166, April 1966.

This is a revamped and expanded version of a post I originally wrote in 2010. 

Are you ready to compare your degrees of tolerance towards cabbages, foreigners and pulp fiction? 

Given when this was published (early February 1966), I'd be curious to see how the like/dislike portion would have been filled in areas at the heart of the civil rights movement—what would a kid in New York City's response have been like compared to one from Alabama?

This quiz to test your levels of prejudice was one of a long-running series of public service announcements from the National Social Welfare Assembly that were published in various DC comics between 1949 and 1967. 

action comics 251 1959-04 what's your bq 585px

Action Comics #251, April 1959.

This ad, which originally ran in 1959, was written by editor Jack Schiff (who championed fillers like this to prove comics could be a constructive influence on 1950s youth) and drawn by Bernard Baily (the original artist of the Spectre, a hero not known for showing the utmost respect towards those he enacted vengeance on). 

During this PSA series' early years, it could be argued (as Bradford Wright suggests in his book Comic Book Nation) that Schiff took a risk during the height of the McCarthy era in extolling liberal values of brotherhood and tolerance to developing minds in an age when being even slightly left of centre led to catcalls or worse. "A man of deep social conscience who held a firm belief in the power of the comics medium to educate children," Will Jacobs and Gerard Jones observe in their book The Comic Book Heroes, "Schiff put his greatest energies into a series of 'institutional pages,' one-page messages about issues as diverse as racial tolerance, consideration for neighbours, and the joys of public libraries."

Little changed between 1959 and 1966, other than refreshed colouring and the addition of a quote from LBJ. 

Evolving out of anti-discriminatory projects during the late 1920s, National Brotherhood Week was fully established by the mid-1930s, with Franklin Roosevelt serving as its honorary chair. Though it gradually faded away, it feels like an idea which, given the divides in the United States today, might benefit from a 21st century revamp. Chances are that you're most likely to encounter it these days either in old comic book ads or Tom Lehrer's clear-eyed take on why it was not embraced by all. 

action comics 251 1959-04 intro of supergirl house ad

SIDEBAR: One other ad featured in Action Comics #251 has historical significance - the debut of Supergirl. 


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