Friday, 19 July 2013

Comic Book Scare

I bought this history book, not because I felt I needed to read it, but because Charles Burns had drawn the cover.  I remember I was told not to judge by the cover.  I was happy with my choice.  This book is about comics and the eventual creation of the Comic Code in 1954, but there is more than comics here for the reader.  It is really a story about censorship, scaremongering, scapegoating, and the age old struggle of nature vs. nurture.

So in the late 40s people started blaming comics for juvenile delinquency and had comic-book burnings across the country.  Book burnings, and in less than a decade since the Nazis!  People would bad mouth the art, the perverse stories, and try and ban them.  Legislation would ban them, the post office refused delivery of anything that they felt was immoral.  The artists and writers were ashamed of their profession and would often not admit to having anything to do with comics.  This was a shameful time in our history, and David Hadju does a splendid job of finding sources and documents to tell this story of censorship.  It is all the more amazing since there are not many books written on comic history, so I can imagine the amount of footwork Hadju had to make to create this book.