These days most Americans feel they have a problem with being overweight, thanks to a culture that's both obsessed with personal appearance and hellbent on shoving terrible food down everybody's gullet at all hours of the day or night. But there was a time when our main concern was getting those three square meals a day - and people deliberately choosing to avoid eating was just wild enough to be the subject of a "true facts" comic strip! So have some Hot Pockets and a Big Gulp handy, this one's gonna make you hungry.

Usually something involving 34 shirtless young men at the University of Minnesota would be a fraternity initiation or testimony in some sort of horrific assault involving sports teams. But here it's just the slightly creepy visual lead-in for our story of denial and overexertion in the name of science. Because there is no reason you need to be shirtless to not eat.

So let me get this straight. If I expend more calories than I take in, I'll lose weight? That's it? That's the magic formula? I don't need exercise videos or special diets or supplements or pills or superfoods or kale or fat-free potato chips or sugar-free ice cream or carob or Tab? Just eat less? Why, that's amazing! If only more people knew this simple fact, why, the billion dollar diet and wellness industry would go out of business overnight, and (sound of gunshot, body hitting floor)

That "medical supervision" doesn't look very strict. In fact Doctor Sleepy here looks downright lackadasical. Joe, on the other hand, looks excited about his new career as a runway fashion model!

Hey kids! Why waste money on expensive hallucinogenic drugs? Why take a chance on the pills Bobby swears up and down are actually MDMA and not laxatives? Just starve yourself and suddenly you'll be on a disorienting freakout trip that didn't cost you a penny!

Look at those young men fighting over a piece of bread. I bet if they were shirtless, they'd be compliant and docile, waiting at the table with their knives and forks like good little starvation experiment subjects! Lose those constricting clothes and let go, fellas.

Hey parents! Kids won't clean their plates at supper? Just clip and save this panel and shove it in their ungrateful faces the next time they turn up their nose at your lima beans!

And now a word from our sponsor.

Yeah, this ad ran in the very same comic book the "Starvation" story appeared ("Sparkling Stars #26," August 1947, if you're counting). This is what I call real marketing synergy, you skinny scarecrow!

And remember, we weren't doing this just because we like to take shirtless young men and confine them with tight, constricting straps. No, this is science.

So here, halfway through the story, we find out these experimental subjects were conscientious objectors. No, you can't quit reading in disgust NOW, you're already in too deep!

After 48 hours awake, most of the COs lost use of their higher brain centers. However, we're not sure what excuse the doctor here is using when he confuses "walking" with "talking."

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

(see, he looks like David Byrne in that Talking Heads video)

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Day Four - the scientists have run out of experiments and at this point are just telling the starving, fatigued COs to stagger around the basketball court. It's hilarious.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

(see, he looks like David Byrne in that Talking Heads video)

Basketball, baseball, it seems pro sports is getting the most benefit out of these experiments. Can you imagine, they once let pro athletes sleep three to four hours a night? Not any more!

Oh good, now industry knows exactly how long and hard I can work before I collapse from total exhaustion and are of no further value to the industrial capitalism machine. Great.

Those conscientious objectors thought they weren't going to be helping the war machine and its saturation bombing campaigns of civilian targets, but they were wrong! Joke's on you, conscientious objectors!

Now that the war is safely over and these guys have been through all the dirty looks and drunken assaults they're ever going to go through for being an able-bodied man not in uniform during World War Two, we can salute their courage and their sacrifice and admit they held fast to their convictions in the face of persecution and abuse. Now, finally, the American conscientious objector is free to once again wear shirts.

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