Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Comic Books War

I haven’t done much reading this week so I’m a little behind on my reading “schedule.” In the “to read” pile is The Ten Cent Plague.

It’s hard to imagine people burning comics, but apparently in the 1950s, a battle was raging over comics. NPR’s Talk of the Nation interviewed David Hajdu about his newest book. According to Hajdu, more than 100 laws were passed across the country restricting or outlawing the sales of comics. One listener emailed NPR recounting how her father burned her comic books in a bonfire.

The comic book industry was almost wiped out due to the controversy. On the surface it would appear comics are viewed very differently now what with Family Guy, The Simpsons, the popularity of the Cartoon Network and comics/graphic novel inspired movies like X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Here’s an excerpt from Hajdu’s book:

Churches and community groups raged and organized campaigns against comic books. Young people acted out mock trials of comics characters. Schools held public burnings of comics, and students threw thousands of the books into the bonfires; at more than one conflagration, children marched around the flames reciting incantations denouncing comics. Headlines in newspapers and magazines around the country warned readers: "Depravity for Children — Ten Cents a Copy!" "Horror in the Nursery," "The Curse of the Comic Books." The offices of one of the most adventurous and scandalous publishers, EC Comics, were raided by the New York City police. More than a hundred acts of legislation were introduced on the state and municipal levels to ban or limit the sale of comics: Scores of titles were outlawed in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and other states, and ordinances to regulate comics were passed in dozens of cities.

(There’s also a photo gallery with images from the book that’s worth checking out at NPR.)

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