Image description
Image description


Of interest to assorted graphic designers, comic book enthusiasts and others


The American Rabbit Wakes Up is being built from the graphics in this database, and you can search it yourself for comic book images. This is a database I made of keywords applied to about 14,000 pages of public domain comics at the Digital Comics Museum (the DCM has no connection to this project and did not approve or supervise its development).  For more information about my use of the database to construct the weekly comic, see How the web comic is made.




Some general information and a list of abbreviations used


I did not usually gather entire issues, and I indexed only a single page from some comic books. Keywords were applied to things that looked possibly useful or just particularly well drawn. Lots of pictoral elements were ignored, and generally entire panels were ignored on each page. This database was only prepared for the construction of this site's web comic, so it's not a total overview of mid-century American comics.  Only about two percent of the entries are linked, so you can go directly to them. On the next update of the public database, probably around the end of this year, the percentage will go up to about ten percent, I think, and it will continue to improve.

Racism is abundant in old comics, and it is occasionally noted in the keywords, but not often or consistently. Sometimes it was hard to know what to type into the keywords, and all entries were done in a hurry. Most of the comics that were chosen for this project are drawn in a relatively realistic style, with few funny animals, and there's not much war or American West compared to the volume of what was published. If you see an error, especially an incorrect artist attribution, your comments are welcome.

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The weekly comic at this site is made using this database

You can search for images in public domain comic pages that are mostly from the 1940s and 50s. Try any keyword. Most of the pages are not yet linked, but you can find the unlinked ones fairly easily.

Public domain status of each item is not guaranteed! 

Before using images, you should check their public domain status yourself. This site can't guarantee anything, and neither can the Digital Comics Museum.

It's a database of comics at the Digital Comics Museum, but they do not endorse or supervise this

The DCM did not oversee or approve the construction of this database. They are simply a repository of thousands of free public domain comics that anyone may read or use.  Please give them money – they are awesome.

Beware of spoilers

Search results will often include the last page of a story, and the search term itself may serve as an instant spoiler.


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Abbreviations and Useful Keywords



--- Three dashes indicates another version is at DCM. Search for "---" plus keyword to maybe find it.
alt version Another scan of the same book is available under the same title at DCM.
arriving Showing up somewhere, usually at a door.
arrival At an airport, or bus or train depot. For a home or other place, see "arriving".
bdr Bedroom.
bg Background - not blocked by figures, so part or all of the panel could be easily used as a background.
blackjack Person being hit on the head, usually from behind.
blr Artist Bald (inked by?) artist Riss, or just sometimes just Riss?… some confusion.
blwh Black and white art, or single color.
bobf Artist Bob Forgione.
breakin Entering through window.
busint Bus interior.
captive Police or others that have apprehended and grabbed someone.
carint Car interior.
clipper Most any old sailing ship.
club Nightclub.  Sometimes entered as "nightclub".
cvt Convertible car.
cvtup Convertible car with top up.
departure Leaving a depot or airport. For a home or other place, see "leaving".
dispair Various distraught looks, often head in hands.
earlyam Early American or similar time period elsewhere.
evg Evening gown. Keyword for general formal events.
fatcar 50s era cars that are rounded and bulbous. See "cvt", "cvtup", "htp", "fincar", and "jalopy".
feet Often a camera view that is low, making an easier panel to compose, a convenient cheat.
fincar Cars with fins, usually more square than "fatcar".
floored Person collapsed, sitting or kneeling on ground usually, esp. after falling.
fore Any inanimate foreground objects such as vases, furniture, fire hydrant.
grma Grandma, an old woman. Also see "grpa" for grandpa.
grpa Grandpa, an old man. Also see "grma" for grandma.
harrumph Snotty disgust. Also try "snotty" and "smug".
hmm Pondering look. Also try "pondering", "epiphany", "pensive", "worried", "skeptical", and "vexed".
hoverc Hover-car.
hs High school.
htp Hardtop car.
index Card with notes on artists' names in a comic book, often a part of the very large JVJ collection.
infuture Person in 20th century clothing in the future.
inpast Person in 20th century clothing in the past.
jalopy Boxy cars that preceded the fat car era.
jnr Artist John R.
jft Artist John Forte.
kenl or knl Artist Kenneth Landau.
lapel Aperson being grabbed hold of, often by the lapels of their jacket.
leaving Departing a home or other building. For depots and airports, see "departure".
lr Living room.
lzr Artist Harry Lazarus.
malt Malt shop, soda fountain, carhop.
matron Older woman, usually plump, sometimes wealthy.
motif Aa small isolated spot drawing that usually is placed with narration text.
ogw Artist Ogden Whitney.
nativeam Native American.
pco Artist P. Cooper. There is another artist, Sam Cooper.
pedestrian Person being hit or about to be hit by vehicle.  Otherwise, use "walking" or "street".
pilgrim Era of approximately 1600 to 1700, especially in America. See also "earlyam".
pith Pith helmet,  usually meaning explorers,  safaris,  archeologists,  often in Africa.
planeint Airplane interior, cargo or passengers. See also "cockpit".
platter Serving tray, usually food.
ptl Ponytail, which can also be modified into a bun.
ptr Artist Peter Abbott (looks a lot like Emil Gershwin).
pillow Usually a woman crying on a bed pillow.
plant Usually a foreground picture or just a good vine, etc.
racism Rarely noted since it is so abundant in old comics and often difficult to classify.
raygun Any futuristic rifle or pistol.
rebuff Woman uninterested in suitor.
recoiling Falling back. Also try "startled", "surprise", "shock", "horror", and "terror".
silh Silhouette.
slv A sleeveless dress.
smc Artist Sam Cooper. There is also another artist, P. Cooper.
trainint Train interior, usually passenger car.
tree Usually a foreground picture, or just a good tree.
u2 More than one artist, apparently. Some confusion there.
u4 The artist Ricca.
u5 Artist Ann Brewster.
u7 Artist needing attribution, this is actually more than one artist.
viof Violent femme:  woman punching, kicking, or otherwise violent. Separate from "woman with gun".
windowext Window seen from the exterior.
windowint Window seen from the interior. Also try "looking out window".
yowz Guys / girls catcall or "wow" look.
zombie A fairly wide range of ghoulish figures.