Posts Tagged ‘Wertham’

Comics Code: Alive and Well Until 2011

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Comics CodeI’ve been reading a LOT of books about comics lately: four in fact, at one time.  I read one chapter a day and then switch to a different book the next day. This is working really well because the four books I’m reading all have to do with the history of comics, and more specifically, the era of the “comics code”.  In fact, I’m even reading Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Hard to have an opinion on something if you’ve never read the source, so I’ve been slogging my way through that one as well (my original opinion has not changed much).

This weekend I found myself on the final three chapters of Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code by Amy Kiste Nyberg, and I decided I wanted to finally FINISH one of the four books, and I did.  My impressions of the book? Honestly I was thrilled and relieved to find that it was not just another rehashing of Fredric Wertham and his crusade against the comic book industry.  Of course he’s included and in fact has his own chapter, but the entire book is NOT focused on him.   (more…)

Where Do I Stand on Fredric Wertham?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

First, let me say that I was raised in the south, so there are several ‘rules’ that have been drilled into my very being: 1) respect your elders (which Wertham would have been), and 2) NEVER speak ill of the dead (which Wertham certainly is, since 1981).  With that being said, I will attempt to convey what I think about the role he has played, and yes, continues to play, in the comics industry.

For those who may not be sure of who Fredric Wertham is, he is most famous for his book entitled Seduction of the Innocent: The InfluencePicture of the cover of Fredick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent book of Comic Books on Today’s Youth, published in 1954.  But you do not have to pick this book up to learn about Wertham’s role in attempting to ban comic books in the late 1940s and 50s. Read any book dealing with the history of the golden and silver age comics and you will get your share of Wertham.

To be fair and not judge just on what others have said about Wertham, I bought Seduction and have been reading it, along with three other books dealing with comics history, over the past week or so. I’m about a third of the way through the book, and to be honest, I’m wondering how I will survive the final two-thirds. The reading is repetitive and lacks any type of documentation or bibliography. Wertham bashes comics relentlessly and provides his “case studies” as evidence of the damage that comics were doing to the youth of his day, responsible for creating, almost single-handedly it would seem, juvenile delinquency.

While reading all of these texts, I ran across a piece from 2012 by Carol L. Tilley entitled “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics”. Tilley gained access to Wertham’s case files that were donated to the Library of Congress at the time of his death, and after sifting through boxes of notes, she has managed to prove that Wertham did indeed take ‘liberties’ with his research.

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No More “Dirty Rotten Coppers” in Comics or american comic book chronicles, 1960-64 Review

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

My research into comics history has lately been engrossed in the 40’s and 50’s to see what really spurred the industry to create the Comics Code of 1955, with all of it’s prohibitions against violence and gore in comics.  Those who study comics have all heard the name of Fredic Wertham and his contributions to the anticomics movement.  Even though he’s not one-handedly responsible for the code, and in fact stated that a code was NOT enough, he did play a key role in the adoption of the code by most publishers.

But this post is intended to step back from that particular era, and look at the publication of a new series of books that deal with the history of comics.  The series is entitled American Comic Book Chronicles.  The two books that have thus far been published are The 1960s: 1960-1964 and The 1980s: 1980-1989.  This post will look specifically at the 1960-1964 book, or the first decade after the establishment of the Comics Code.

BookFirst, let’s discuss the overall appearance of the book, which, quite frankly, is about all I’ve had time to look at thus far.  I think the cover could be quite deceiving for many.  It is basically 8 1/2 x 11 and looks like it could be extremely text heavy.  We all know that when it comes to books, the first two things that grab our attention are 1) The title and 2) the cover.  The book is hardbound and the cover is glossy, two things that gives the reader hope that the inside will be more than just another text based history with a few black and white images in the middle (like so many books on the history of comics are).

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