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1957 Phantom Predicts the “China Virus” (or not)

In the fall of 2021, an image started to circulate on social media that supposedly showed a panel from a comic strip published in 1957, in which a hooded hero encouraged mask use to protect against the “China virus”:

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

The above-displayed image shows an altered version of a panel from the comic strip “The Phantom” that was published in August 1957. In the original version, The Phantom is encouraging people to wear a mask to protect themselves against “sleep death,” a mysterious illness plaguing people in “The Valley of No Return.”


© King Features Syndicate

Hadn’t seen or heard of this particular meme,
but apparently it has spread enough for Snopes to take it on.

In fact, this comic strip was published during the 1957 flu pandemic when health officials were encouraging mask use to prevent the disease from spreading. 

Community Comments

#1 Rich Furman
November/22/2021
@ 11:12 pm

For extra fun, match the letters of “China Virus” with the letters elsewhere in the bubble that they were copied from.

#2 D. D. Degg
November/22/2021
@ 11:28 pm

Yeah, that “China Virus” ain’t on the level in more ways than one.

#3 Steve Herberger
November/23/2021
@ 11:16 am

What was the intent of the original use of this altered (and obscure) strip? To poke fun at the former guy and his ignorance? Or to perpetuate growing xenophobia in support of the former guy?

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