Mid-century comics on both sides of the Atlantic portrayed children as camera users through product advertisements, photography competitions, and—especially—fictional depictions of heroic child photographers. In the illustrated hands of comic characters like “Kid Click” and “Snapshot Susie,” cameras could figure as tools for conquest (paralleling weaponry and surveillance devices) or operate as metaphorical moral compasses for personal development, decency, and altruism. In this lecture, Annebella Pollen explores how these comic adventures, particularly when triangulated with the camera promotions and children’s photographs on parallel pages, offer a productive space for understanding children’s media production and the mediation of their world.

A Modern Design History Lecture.

Annebella Pollen is a professor of visual and material culture at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom, where she researches histories of art, design, photography, and dress. Her books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life; The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians; Nudism in a Cold Climate; More than a Snapshot: A Visual History of Photo Wallets; and Art without Frontiers: The Story of the British Council, Visual Arts and a Changing World. Pollen is a recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize, which she is using to develop a new publication and exhibition on the history of photography by children.