Was this comic referring to the “Chinese virus” in 1957?

In the fall of 2021, an image began circulating on social media that purportedly showed a panel from a comic strip published in 1957, in which a hooded hero encouraged mask-wearing to protect against the “Chinese virus”. » :

The words “Chinese virus”, a xenophobic and inaccurate reference to COVID-19, did not appear in the original comic. This text was digitally modified in 2021.

The image above shows an edited version of a panel from “The Phantom” comic strip published in August 1957. In the original version, The Phantom encouraged people to wear a mask to protect against “death by the sleep”. a mysterious disease that afflicts people in “The Valley of No Return”.

The soundtrack reads, “Tie it up like I do, it’ll save you from ‘death of sleep’ in the valley.”

Here’s a preview of the original, unedited version of this comic that was published in Pennsylvania’s “The Pocono Record” on August 24, 1957:

August 24, 1957, Sat. Mail-post (Camden, New Jersey) Journals.com

“The Phantom” was a serial comic that was first published in 1936. The panel above is from a story involving a mysterious illness that has put people to sleep in the valley. Although this disease is not COVID-19 or “The China Virus”, The Phantom did encourage people to wear masks in order to protect themselves from the disease.

Here is another panel of this scenario:

August 06, 1957, Tue. The Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey) Journals.com

The claim that The Phantom used the term “Chinese virus” in a 1957 comic book is part of a series of rumors that have pushed the unfounded and false idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned or predicted. in one way or another. While this comic was really about a mysterious disease that could be prevented through the use of masks, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first time in history that masks were encouraged to prevent the spread of disease. In fact, this comic was published during the 1957 flu pandemic, when health officials encouraged mask-wearing to prevent the spread of disease.


Pandemic of 1957-1958 (H2N2 virus) | Pandemic flu (flu) | CDC. January 22, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1957-1958-pandemic.html.

Don Markstein’s Toonopedia: The Phantom. http://www.toonopedia.com/phantom.htm. Accessed November 22, 2021.

Falk, Lee. “The ghost.” Courrier-Post, August 24, 1957, p. 17.journals.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89384625/courier-post/.

NL ·, Ainsley Hawthorn ·. For Radio Canada. “Do you think wearing masks in daily life is a new concept? Think again | CBC News.” Radio-Canada, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/ apocalypse-then-masks-1.5972934 Accessed November 22, 2021.

“The History of the Forgotten Pandemic.” Yale Insights, https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/the-history-of-the-forgotten-pandemic. Accessed November 22, 2021.

Vazquez, Marietta. Calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” or “China virus” is inaccurate and xenophobic. https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/calling-covid-19-the-wuhan-virus-or-china-virus-is-inaccurate-and-xenophobic/. Accessed November 22, 2021.