Superman Junior Defense League of America

Superman Junior Defense League of America

Paper and gum supply shortages forced Bowman Gum to temporarily suspend production during World War II, but Superman, Inc. continued to make dough. In 1941, Superman "Adventure Pictures" were distributed with loaves of bread to promote the Superman Junior Defense League of America. Application forms and membership certificates were available for free at participating grocers. League membership was offered separately from the Supermen of America, an organization promoted by Action Comics and Superman Gum.

Superman Junior Defense League of America - #17 - Superman Catches Spies

The American Card Catalog reference is D143. The series is undated and each thin paper card is copyrighted by Superman, Inc. The stories focus on homeland security and civil defense themes. Each story card is attached to a "Pledge Stamp" that contains one of eight different national defense pledges. A card with the stamp attached measures approximately 2.75 x 4.5 inches.

Superman Junior Defense League of America - #17 - Superman Catches Spies

The card artwork is by Fred Ray, known for illustrating patriotic Superman covers during World War IIThe panels are similar to Ray's work for the Superman Gum series and "Superman's Super Contest," a picture caption contest published in Action Comics from May to July 1941. The story text font is the same as the Superman Candy & Surprise cards. The writer of the series is unconfirmed.

A complete set of eight "Pledge Stamps" could be redeemed for membership in the Superman Junior Defense League of America and a premium pin badge. The premium badges are made of brass with cloisonné enamel. The pinback badges are approximately one inch in height with "Superman Junior Defense League" on the banner flag. Larger variations that say "Superman American" were distributed as Superman Gum premiums for the Supermen of America. The redesign was likely due to metal shortages. Both badges are pictured at scale:

Superman Junior Defense League of America - Bread Premium Pinback Badge

Card backs may be stamped with advertisements for various bakeries and regional radio stations that aired The Adventures of Superman program. Some advertising messages promote "Superman's special loaf," the vitamin enriched Superman Bread. Sponsors identified include: Delorge's Prize Winner Bread, Foster's Bakery, Hi-Class Baking Co., Manbeck's Bonnie Bread, Normand's, Saylor's, Schoen's Enriched Bread, Swan's Bakery, Town Talk Bread, and Wind's Butter Krust Bread.

Superman Junior Defense League - Saylor's Bread

On May 20, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8757 Establishing the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD). Supermen of America advertisements began encouraging readers to buy Savings Bonds and Defense Stamps in Action Comics #43, on sale October 14, 1941. Regional programs were organized throughout the United States in cooperation with OCD and the Department of War. Local sponsors of the Superman Victory Kid Club included Boskman Variety, Village Pharmacy and Fountain, and Wigmore Dairy. Roberts Dairy of Nebraska released the first set of Superman milk bottle caps for the Roberts Superman Defense Club.

Superman Junior Defense League of America - Foster's Bakery Breads

Advertising materials from the Superman Junior Defense League of America and Superman Victory Kid Club feature an illustration of Superman based on the cover of New York World's Fair Comics #2 (July 1940) by Jack Burnley. Since 1987, the Smithsonian Institution has archived items from the Supermen Junior Defense League of America. Story cards, advertisements, and membership materials are cataloged in the collections of The National Museum of American History.

Story Card Checklist
1 Spy in the Sky
2 Saving the Draftees
3 Poison in Mid-Air
4 Superman and the Torpedo
5 Fighting a Tank
6 Superman vs. TNT
7 Not Fit to Eat
8 Concrete Evidence
9 Hands Across the Sea
10 A Weighty Subject
11 Burning Wheat
12 Death from the Sky
13 Superman Averts Navy Sabotage
14 Panama Canal Sabotage
15 Superman Averts Army Disaster
16 Superman Saves Troop Transport
17 Superman Catches Spies
18 Superman Races Death
19 Defeats Madman's Scheme
20 Superman Thwarts Kidnap
21 Superman Saves Supply Train
22 Race with a Bullet
23 Outsmarts Foreign Sailors' Ruse
24 Steel Mill Sabotage
Pledge Stamps
1 I pledge allegiance to my flag.
2 For better health, I promise to eat plenty of Vitamin Enriched Bread.
3 I promise to save tin foil for National Defense.
4 To conserve national wealth, I promise to respect public and private property.
5 In these times, our country needs strong, healthy boys and girls. I promise to become one.
6 I will work to help the Scouts, Salvation Army, Red Cross, and similar organizations.
7 I promise to do one good deed a day to help National Defense.
8 I promise to save my pennies to buy government saving stamps.

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