“I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song.”
–Merrie Melodies (Warner Bros. 1933)
In an effort to understand the culture of an era, I fell under the impression that no better dig-site exists than within the lives of the people that lived it.
With Project Human Torch, as I have been calling this study (in scholarly recognition of the superhero that emblazoned the cover of Marvel’s first comic book in 1939) I wanted to create an original piece about the 1930s with a focus on cultural leaders: movers and shakers that literally moved and shook—behind or within the scenes—and with risky initiative, rolling with the punches and propelling forward through dark clouds, challenging the chess moves of politicians, and providing heroes for the hero-less.
I have been fervently aware that most historical references and non-fictional books encompassing the Great Depression are deep-sunk in the quicksand of economic and social issues—the disparity of the era—or the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Historically-motivated, I became charged by the fact that artists, writers, sportsmen, innovators, adventurers and activists flourished in their own unique manners during the Depression era; and, more importantly, awakened Americans’ eyes to the world around them.
Determination is a noble virtue to account for, and there were many determined and charismatic individuals who transcended trampled courage. They planted ideas of hope and prosperity and cultivated a luminescent outlet for Americans. And many of these luminaries were no more privileged than the average, hard-luck-stricken citizen.
When tackling research for the project, I was faced with decision. The more research I conducted, the more interesting and influential characters I found intriguing, against the grain— admirable. Difficult is an inferior word when hand-selecting human lives to study. I felt like a team captain picking teammates from a crowd of athletes, all of equal athleticism; so finally, I realized that I had to take my own life into account and make my decisions, or else I would be composing the study ‘till death do us part. After all, in keeping with the traditions set forth by proactive individuals, it should be remembered that there is more to life than reactivity. It is my hope, that after reading the following study, you may become inspired with a deeper appreciation for the fierce determination, persistence and heart of Americans.