Learn How Dagwood Splits The Atom was produced by the Hearst Corporation in USA in 1949. The booklet was given away free of charge to schools as a public service to educate the public about atomic power.
The booklet contains 36 pages in full color, measuring 7” x 10”. A variety of King Features Syndicate comic book characters are featured, including Mandrake the Magician, Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Flash Gordon, Henry, Prince Valiant, Snuffy Smith, and Popeye. The front and back cover can be seen below
As the head of King Features Educational Division, Joe Musial first created an exhibit for the atomic show at the New York Golden Jubilee exhibition in 1948, explaining the workings of atomic power with King Features’ cartoon stars. This led to the comic book version to be printed in 1949.
The booklet is an introduction to radioactivity, written with the help of General Leslie Groves (director of the Manhattan Project) and John R. Dunning (a physicist who verified fission of the uranium atom). General Groves wrote a preface in the book, and other contributors included Hearst columnist, Bob Considine, as well as several physicists and a quote from Bernard Baruch.
The most popular strip stars during that era were the Bumsteads, so naturally they would be the leads in the book. The “story” inside was that Blondie and Dagwood, accompanied by the rest of the King Features Syndicate characters, attend a public lecture given by Mandrake on just what atoms are made of, how they get pulled apart, and what causes them to detonate.
The Bumsteads are magically transported to atomic size so they can inspect the various neutrons, protons and electrons doing their stuff up close while a scientific explanation narrates the pages below the cartoons.
The original exhibit toured around the country, and even had the movie/radio/television Dagwood, Arthur Lake, visit one such showing.
An image of the Phantom appears only once within the booklet, on page 3.
The publications were distributed in an envelope featuring Dagwood and Blondie on the outside.
A special edition of Dagwood Splits The Atom booklet was published by Catechetical Guild Educational Society in USA in 1949. Found in their TOPIX series, we see the publication featured as edition number 804. The front and back covers of this TOPIX version can be seen below.
Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab
The Dagwood Splits The Atom booklet was also found in the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab kit produced by the A.C. Gilbert Company in USA in 1950. 2 different version of the kit were produce, the 1950 version can be seen below on the left, and the 1952 version can be seen below on the right.
A variety of booklets came with the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab kit, with one of those booklets being Dagwood Splits The Atom.
The kit retailed for $50 at the time, and came with a variety of complex and potentially hazardous components, including four different types of uranium ore, a Geiger counter, a miniature cloud chamber, an electroscope and a spinthariscope. The kit’s intention was to allow children to create and watch nuclear and chemical reactions using radioactive material. The kit measures 12.06cm x 57.15cm x 41.91cm.
Due to it’s high price of $50 at the time, the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab kit was only sold through till 1952, with an estimated 5000 kits produced.