Monday, 10 April 2017

Hansi - The Girl Who Loved The Swastika

Well, we were always gonna get here eventually.
Hansi - The Girl Who Loved The Swastika, if you didn't know, was published by Spire Christian Comics, part of a long running series of uplifting comic literature / propaganda only sold through Church outlets.
Spire did kiddies comics, bible stories, autobiographical book adaptations and a weird subspecies of Archie comics, where Betty lectured the Riverdale gang about the Good News coming their way.
Hansi was adapted from Maria Anne Hirschman's semi-autobiographical novel by Archie artist Al Hartley, who had recently become born again, and did most of Spire's subsequent output.
Hansi looks like a regular comic, but it certainly doesn't feel like one, though there is a sort of Marvel Classic Comics vibe about the way it zips through the material. Weirdly, it reminds me of all those Nazi exploitation video nasty movies from the early '80's, like Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS, being alternately shocking AND boring. Or maybe that's just me.
Did Spire make it to the UK, anyone know? I feel like I'd've come across them if they had, and picked up anything that even vaguely looked like a comic, but I don't ever recall seeing them. And I'd defintely've remembered reading Hansi.


  1. Hi Pete, somehow or other Spire comics did get here- My mum used to work at a Roman Catholic college in Surrey so I ended up doing a little part-time work one year tidying up various rooms. In the attic they had a box of a number of different Spire comics- pretty certain they had this, The adaptation of The Cross and the Switchblade, and the bizarre Book of Revelation adaptation amongst others. I was allowed to take a few home but got rid of them long ago

    Graham Vingoe

  2. Strange, I was raised Catholic and never came across them. I'm sure I'd've found them as disturbing as I do now!

  3. I've seen various Christian comics over the years, but I don't know if Spire was the publisher. However, what I want to know is why Al Hartley didn't draw his one and only Thor comic (Journey Into Mystery #90) as well as he did this one.

  4. 'Cos Thor is pagan idolatry and you'll go to Hell for reading it? ( I'll just get that one in before anyone else does! )
    BTW Hansi is amazingly mild compared to stuff like The Gospel Blimp and In His Steps, which I also have. You have been warned.

  5. You know, once upon a time, when I was a youngster who knew it all, I used to mock this kind of thing. In my dotage, I find myself warming to them. If nothing else, they are sincere in what they are saying, preaching the kind of Christianity that we'd probably rather deal with than the sort we've had in recent years.

    Yes, organised religion has a lot to answer for with what's come to light lately, but these aren't stories about that - they are (presumably true-ish) accounts of people in desperate circumstances who managed to pull through with help from their beliefs...they are genuine in putting across what they believe without being too in-your-face about it (well, compared to the sort of in-your-face attitude that's so prevalent in social media, among other places).

    I can't help wondering if it rankles some folk that these stories are so well drawn; they certainly are a step up from Chick tracts and the like. And I daresay that the title takes people aback, but once you read the story and see what it's really about, the title's no worse than a lot of clickbait one finds online.

    Mind you, I'm only saying this based on having read this, The Hiding Place, and one of the christianised Archie comics...for all I know they really are a bunch of shockers, but so far not in my experience.

  6. As much as I love the artwork and colouring, I do confess to finding some elements of Up From Harlem, The Gospel Blimp and In His Steps ( to give three examples ) extremely judgmental and right wing, and a little bit disturbing; Hansi genuinely being the mildest, as I say, alongside The Cross & The Switchblade which also works quite well. They do have an actual story which you can't really say about some of the Spire's I've read.
    But they don't offend me, nor do I feel smugger-than-thou about Hartley's work - I just find them fascinating.

  7. Completely disagree with B.Smith. This is cold war propaganda - if you think these are true stories, you might want to consider the portrayal of the Russians, and then remind yourself who invaded who! - produced by dangerous nutters.
    The quality of the artwork, which personally I find quite bland, is irrelevant.

    If you really want a bit of Jack Chick style, without the right-wing f*ckwittery, how about this -
    Submit to Darkseid!(You know it makes sense)


    1. Sounds like the typical kneejerk "the Russians weren't so bad" nonsense you hear from those who sleep in peace protected by others.

  8. According to my mother, her father's German pro-Nazi cousins who survived the Russians were never as cheerful and upbeat as Hansi.