111 Pictures; 62 Scenes of Violence

The archive of psychiatrist Fredric Wertham — who famously crusaded against comic books in the 1950s — is now open at the Library of Congress:

Despite his humane interests and broader concerns with violence and protecting children from psychological harm, Wertham is best known for his book “Seduction of the Innocent” (1954) and its resulting fallout. The book was the culmination of a decade-long campaign against comic books…

In “Seduction” Wertham wrote, “There seems to be a widely held belief that democracy demands leaving the regulation of children’s reading to the individual. Leaving everything to the individual is actually… anarchy. And it is a pity that children should suffer from the anarchistic trends in our society.”…

Wertham testified six times under oath on the harmfulness of comic books, including providing testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Though the committee’s final report did not blame comics for crime, it recommended that the comics industry tone down its content voluntarily, thus resulting in the Comics Code Authority.

Also testifying at the subcommittee: William M. Gaines, publisher of Mad — and a number of deliciously gruesome horror comics that were shut down in the wake of the Comics Code Authority. Gaines himself had proposed forming CCA’s industry trade group, but quickly lost control to the publisher of Archie comics. Mad had started as a comic book, but converted to the magazine format we grew up with to escape CCA censorship.

Papers of Comic-Book ‘Villain’ Open at Library [Library of Congress, via LuxMentis]

William Gaines [Wikipedia]


There was a direct line from Mad to Zap Comix to William Burroughs and beyond. Thankfully.

Ah, the menace posed by juvenile delinquents! It was a simpler and, I think, happier time.

This merely shows what we all know. You can’t shut these people up. They will find some menace to blather about. If it’s not comics it’s disco. If it’s not women it’s gays. If it’s not hamsters it’s tubes. They will never shut up.

@Benedick: One of my favorite titles in our inventory is Juvenile Depravity (1849). So much more élan than juvenile delinquency, don’t you think?

@Benedick: @Mistress Cynica: My now-favorite aunt used to call us nieces and nephews “little reprobates” when we got out of line.

@Mistress Cynica: Blue jeans, pompadours, flick knives!!!!!

Happy times.

BTW. One of the more remarkable publications I’ve seen of that, and probably, later vintage is Work. I don’t know why there hasn’t been a coffee table version. Want to know how to make an umbrella from scratch? weave your own wicker furniture? fix that double ox-yoke? That’s where you go to find the answers all done in beautiful line drawings.

@Benedick: Blue jeans, pompadours, flick knives!!!!!

When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.

@nojo: My life is a musical.

@JNOVjr: Why are you trying to kill me?

@Tony Blair Witch Project: Jr (who is packing for college) asked me to tell you that “I love him, and that’s how we, in this family, show affection.” Apparently he has another video up his sleeve, but he doesn’t have the time [thank you, Jesus!] to log on and share it with you right now.

@JNOV: Just as well. I had to hide under the table during the last one. Tell him to pack well and dress warm. And to listen to his mother.

My Amazon kickback link features a book entitled B-More Hopeful by NoJo NoJo. I’m suspicious, it doesn’t sound like a title I’d associate with this blog.

@Walking Still: That’s from my Speak-n-Snark line of children’s books.

@Tony Blair Witch Project: <3

Like he's ever done any of those things!

@JNOV: kick ass, teach!
@JNOVjr: take names, College!

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