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Offline Yoc

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Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s
« on: January 06, 2019, 09:33:41 AM »
Hi Gang,
Here's another new topic for this section.  Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s.  This one will include Dr Wertham and the birth of the Comics Code Authority.  If you can read Spanish I highly recommend this blog on this topic with dozens of samples.  https://www.tebeosfera.com/documentos/comics_y_delincuencia_juvenil_en_estados_unidos_durante_la_golden_age.html

Comics have always been looked down on by the other American media starting way back when the comic strips were kings in newspaper publishing and some popular artists were making a lot of money in bidding wars for their talents.

But what seems to happen to many popular diversions for kids comics were circled out as being 'bad for kids' that would ruin their eyes as well as moral threats likely to turn them into illiterates.  Pool halls, dime novels and pinball machines had the same labels put on them and we all know movies, rock'n'roll, television, video games and social media have all had their turn.

I'll be sharing several pics I've collected on the topic over the years but you can see many more at this Canadian site 'A Crisis of Innocence':  http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/
"An online exhibition that investigates the widespread public outcry over comic books, and the ill-effects the horror and crime genres in particular. The site archives several hundred legal, legislative, academic, and popular media documents chronicling the controversy."

David Hajdu, in his book 'The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America' (Farrar, Straus & Giroux-2008) https://www.amazon.ca/Ten-Cent-Plague-Comic-Book-Changed-America/dp/0312428235
goes into the anti-comics hysteria in minute detail for those that really want to dig into the topic.  I highly recommend it.

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With the end of WWII soldiers were returning home and babies soon followed.  A 'boom' of them even.  Reports of juvenile delinquency became a concern.  Parents started wondering what could made their kids so bad.  Looking around they noticed how many comics they were reading.  During the war comics were at their peek of popularity.  Millions of them were sold each month.  Due to this and the unfortunate fact comics were almost always perceived as entertainment for very young children they made a convenient target for moral crusaders.

Children's author Sterling North would write a scathing and very popular editorial in the Chicago Daily News (1940) "A National Disgrace" where he rips into comics warning parents of the dangers they posed as a "hypodermic injection of sex and murder" and a "violent stimulant".  Typical of most adults he would not give children credit for any maturity, accusing the comics industry of a "cultural slaughter of the innocents."
You can read about the editorial here: http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/exhibits/show/a-crisis-of-innocence/anti-comics-backlash

As early as 1941 parents groups were speaking out against comics.  Even President Roosevelt spoke out in a note read to the National P-TA meeting May 20, 1941.
The Associated Press, “National P-TA Official Assails Horror Comics,” The Innocence Project, accessed February 20, 2018, which you can see here: http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/files/original/461b7757cc54d711407fa231c9dc9dbe.jpg

#1 - 1941-Congressional Library exhibit  rack
A view showing the magazine stack in the Congressional Library.
(Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Here's a mix of pulps, comic books, true detective magazines and other magazines on this rolling stand. On the bottom shelf is the first issue of Exiting Love (Winter 1941). Moving up, you'll see; Planet Stories (Spring 1941), Amazing Stories (August 1941), and a bit of Astonishing Stories (August 1940).

A rolling cart of magazines and comics for congressmen in 1941.

With the dwindling popularity of superhero comics by the end of the WWII publishers tried a variety of genres looking restore their hold on readers.  Crime comics were among those tried.  Dick Tracy had made its debut in a Detroit newspaper in 1931 and was popular. The first comic book dedicated to the crime genre was probably Lev Gleason’s 'Crime Does Not Pay' in 1942 and it was popular.  Publishers noticed and more followed.

In 1943 and 1944 several U.S. Senate subcommittees were started devoted to investigating the problem of criminality among young people, supporting data and conclusions disseminated by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.

Books and anti-comics articles would become common.  Gabriel Lynn published two works (The Teacher And The Comics, Post-Reporter, Minnesota, 1944; The Case Against the Comics, Catechetical Guild, Minnesota, 1944), based on a study of about ninety-two comics, concluded that comics were authentic manuals for crime, profusely illustrated, in which children could be detailed information on how to commit crimes. Lynn harbored no doubt that there was a direct connection between comics littered with gangsters and the alleged wave of juvenile crime going on.

Horror comics would take off in 1947.  EC Comics is the best known example but there were many others out there as well.  You can easily find them on DCM.  Check out this list of pre-code horror comics we share on the site: http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/forum/index.php/topic,3151.0.html

#2 - 1942.04.17-Family Circle issue
This mag features a swipe on the cover from Batman #9 and a story on Youth and Comics.

#3 - 1947.07.26-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A typical anti-comics feature from 1947.

COMICS: Prize Comics (Prize) v6 #5 (#65)(August - September 1947)
Whiz Comics (Fawcett) #89 (September 1947)

In 1947, the topic was so hot that Hoover held a National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency promoted by the Attorney general, Tom Clark, whose findings were collected in eighteen large volumes which, as well as statistics, analyzed the causes and possible prevention of the problems.

#4 - 1948-Dr Fredric Wertham
(03.20.1895 – 11.18.1981) a German-born director of psychiatry at Queens Hospital, he also founded the Lafargue Clinic, the first mental health clinic in Harlem. 

He started writing about comics effects in the American Journal of Psychotherapy v2, #3, July, 1948.

Basing his claims on his study of the children and teenagers he treated, Wertham was quoted as an expert on the subject in a Collier’s Magazine feature entitled, “Horror in the Nursery" - The comics and juvenile delinquency as seen by a psychiatrist written by Judith Crist which came out in Collier's, March 27, 1948.  You can see it at this link: http://www.lostsoti.org/ColliersArticleHorrorInTheNursery.htm

Two months later, his essay “The Comics—Very Funny!” appeared in the May 29, 1948 (cover date) Saturday Review of Literature; a condensed version appeared in the widely read Reader's Digest in August.   You can read his full version on this link: http://www.unz.com/print/SaturdayRev-1948may29-00006/

#5 - 1948.04-Time Magazine, Police Comm. Harry S. Toy
In this issue of Time, a story appeared about Detroit Police Commissioner Harry S. Toy, who examined all the comic books available in his community and then stated they were "Loaded with communist teachings, sex, and racial discrimination."

Harry Toy sitting behind desk reading his comic strip.
(Photo by Tony Linck/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Holding Is This Tomorrow (Catechetical Guild Edu. Soc.)([November 1] 1947)
Justice Traps the Guilty (Prize) v1 #3 (Prize-March-April 1948)
Adventure Comics (DC) 128 (May 1948) behind pen.
All-Star Comics (DC) #40 below Adventure book.

#6 - 1948.07-Notable comic fan David Wigransky
Notable comic fan and collector David Wigransky shows off his collection in July 1948.

Wigransky wrote a strong rebuttal defending comics to Dr. Wertham’s anti-comics article (see #2 above) in the Saturday Review of Literature (July 24, 1948, pp. 19-20)  which you can read for yourself here:

David continued his interest in comics even producing an unpublished comic of his own - “The Uncanny Adventures of (I Hate) Dr. Wertham” which likely was sent to Milt Caniff sometime in the 1940s.  Caniff was president of the National Cartoonists Society.  You can see it for yourself at this link, it's better than you'd expect for an untrained teenager: https://library.osu.edu/blogs/cartoons/2016/02/23/guest-post-found-in-the-collection-the-uncanny-adventures-of-i-hate-dr-wertham/

David sadly died in 1969 at what must have been about age 36.

Reading Famous Funnies (Dell) #17 (December 1935)
Powerhouse Pepper Comics (Marvel) #2 (Spring 1948)
True Crime Comics (Magazine Vill.) v1 #2 (May 1947 [1948])
Two-Gun Kid (Marvel) #1 ([March] 1948)

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Samples of anti-comics propaganda and hysteria.

Comic publishers were hearing the complaints and EC's Bill Gaines tried to organize publishers into an 'Association of Comics Magazine Publishers' on July 1, 1948.  But the ACMP wasn't to be with only five publishers joining and soon folded.  You can read more about the AMCP here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_Comics_Magazine_Publishers

The comic book burnings which followed in 1948 were part of a growing moral panic over comics that occupied Americans through the mid-1950s. Comics were a convenient target for a range of anxieties.  The first reported comic-book burning was in November of 1945.  It took place in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, a town of eleven thousand north of Madison. The children of Saints Peter and Paul School burned 1,500+ comics accumulated during a school-sponsored collection drive, all titles which a Catholic censor had classified as “condemned."

#7 - 1948.10-Newsstand -Bubley
Crime comics dominate this 1948 comic rack.

Photo:Esther Bubley, Newsstand, c. 1944,
Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Gift of the estate of Esther Bubley 2003.22

More pictures by Bubley can be seen here:

Crime Patrol (EC) #8 (Fall 1948) likely
Lawbreakers Always Lose (Marvel) #4 (October 1948)
The Witness (Marvel) #1 (September 1948) one-shot
Exposed v1 (D.S. Pub.) #5 (November-December 1948) maybe
Criminals on the Run (Novelty) v4#2 (September 1948)
War Against Crime (EC) #4 (Winter 1948)
Crime Fighters (Marvey) #4 (November 1948)
Crimes by Woman (Fox) #3 (October 1948)
Famous Crimes (Fox) (unknown)
The Spirit (Quality) #14 (Winter 1948)
Charlie Chan (Harvey) v1#2 (2) (September 1948) likely
Target Comics (Novelty) v9 #7 [#97] (September 1948)

From Tommy Burns

#8 - 1948.12.20-Binghamton, New York comic burning
Gerard Jones, in his informative book, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book described this event as follows:

An impromptu crusade in Binghamton, New York, sent volunteers door-to-door to ask, “Are there any comic books in this house?” When the households could be persuaded that doctors, police, and ministers were right about the dangers of comics, the volunteers gathered the offending publications and carried them to the local school yard, where they were piled high, doused with gasoline, and set afire. Time ran pictures of the comics blazing, children watching with some ambivalence from the background.

The picture of the Binghamton burning was featured in the December 20th 1948  issue of Time.
The photo caption read -
Manners and Morals-
In Binghamton, N.Y., Students of St. Patrick’s parochial school collected 2,000 objectionable comic books in a house-to-house canvass, burned them in the school yard.

A NY Time story covers the same event at this online link- http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/files/original/69d4d2cab99771e90a73b435c91b524c.jpg

#9 - 1949.02.24-Cape Girardeau burning
Comics deemed unfit for children were ceremonially burned in Cape Girardeau on February 24, 1949 at the St. Mary’s High School.  Led by Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, and parents 8,000 comic books were claimed to be collected, brought to St. Mary’s School and burned.  Kids pledged to never again purchase or read objectionable magazines or comic books.

This large burning was one of many that emerged across the nation in 1948-49, seeking to eliminate the perceived dangers of comic books.  You can read more clippings about the different burnings at this link: http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/exhibits/show/a-crisis-of-innocence/anti-comics-campaigns

#10 - 1948.8.27-Two Boys Look at Comic Books
(Original Caption) 8/27/1948-Memphis, TN: The clean up drive against objectionable comic books being displayed by local newsstands, recently proposed by the Memphis Retail Drug Association, is more fact then fiction now. Each newsstand has its own censor who 'pulls' funny books on crime. Tommy (left) and Bill Coleman, whose dad owns a drug store, act as their own censors as they examine the latest stock of funny books.
Photo by Bettmann / Contributor

A few pulps are seen on the right including:
Private Detective Stories [v20 #5, August 1948] (25¢, pulp)

#11 - 1949.02-from Family Circle anti-comics feature
You can see the cover and read the anti-comics article for this FC issue here:

Cookie (ACG) #9 (October-November 1947)
Curly Kayoe (United) #1 (1946)
Four Color (Dell) #167 - The Lone Ranger (October 1947)
Rusty (Timely) #15 (January, 1948)
Superman (DC) #49 (November-December, 1947)

#12 - 1950s-Waterloo, Ont. CANADA -horror comics
The anti-comics hysteria spread to other countries as well including Canada and the UK.

Reading Ghostly Weird (Star) #123 (June 1954)
Terrors of the Jungle (Star) #9 (June 1954)
Journey into Fear (Superior) #19 (May 1954)
T-Man (Quality) #16 (June 1954)
Strange Mysteries (Superior) #17 (May 1954)

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#13 - 1950-EC's Gaines and Feldstein
The brains behind the resurgent EC Comics.  Bill Gaines had taken control of his father's comic line in 1947 and after a couple years of losing money he and Al Feldstein started their New Trend line focused on more mature horror and crime stories.  The comics today are praised as a high water mark of comics creativity.

You can read about Al Feldstein on this blog entry:

#14 - 1950.04.13-Comic Connoisseurs
(Original caption) At noon each Saturday, young comic collectors meet to trade and evaluate various comic books. One of the boys is holding a Tales from the Crypt comic.
Photo by Bettmann / Contributor


#15 - 1950s-editorial cartoon comic-book-censorship
Editorial cartoon of Estes Kefauver cleaning up comics.

#16 - 1950s-Kids paper drive
Found on the Buffalo Comic Convention FB page.  A recent find, I'll let SuperScrounge figure out the books if he likes.

#17 - 1951.08-HOF in lake
A pleasant day reading while swimming at Humboldt Park in Chicago, Illinois. 1951. H/t Dennis Ray.  Found on Facebook.

Reading Haunt of Fear (EC) #8 (July-August 1951)

That's it for this batch, hope you liked them.  Part 2 coming up next week.

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Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s
« on: January 06, 2019, 09:33:41 AM »

Offline SuperScrounge

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.1
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 08:02:15 PM »
#16 - 1950s-Kids paper drive
Found on the Buffalo Comic Convention FB page.  A recent find, I'll let SuperScrounge figure out the books if he likes.

Oh, having to live up to one's reputation...  ;)

top row

Shocking Mystery Cases #59 (July 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/228909/cover/4/
Terrifying Tales #15 (April 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/224815/cover/4/
The Outlaw Kid #3 (January 1955) https://www.comics.org/issue/11835/cover/4/
Wonder Woman #45 (January-February 1951) https://www.comics.org/issue/8661/cover/4/
Wonder Woman #70 (November 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11662/cover/4/
Web of Mystery #14 (October 1952) https://www.comics.org/issue/223192/cover/4/
Wonder Woman #64 (February 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11097/cover/4/
Voodoo #17 (September-October 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/223224/cover/4/
Batman #85 (August 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11470/cover/4/
New Heroic Comics #69 (November 1951) https://www.comics.org/issue/235132/cover/4/
Attack! #5 [1] (January 1953) https://www.comics.org/issue/240560/cover/4/
Batman #88 (December 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11713/cover/4/
All Star Western #81 (February-March 1955) https://www.comics.org/issue/11857/cover/4/

second row

Secret Romances #11 (December 1952) https://www.comics.org/issue/259190/cover/4/
Lovelorn #54 (November - December 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/259117/cover/4/
Batman #87 (October 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11592/cover/4/
Archie's Pal Jughead
Sports Action #11 ? (March 1952) https://www.comics.org/issue/75941/cover/4/
Ten-Story Love #v34#5 / 197 (August 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/311274/cover/4/
Secret Romances #21 (August 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/259200/cover/4/
Two-Fisted Tales #30 ? (November-December 1952) https://www.comics.org/issue/10132/cover/4/
Heroic Comics
Crime Must Pay The Penalty
First Love Illustrated #46 (November 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/259304/cover/4/
Dale Evans
The Outlaw Kid #2 (November 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11682/cover/4/

third row

Approved Comics #2 (March 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/173812/cover/4/
Famous Funnies #211 (May 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/128489/cover/4/
My Own Romance ?
Eerie #15 (April-May 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/214577/cover/4/

left back boy(?) is holding

Strange Worlds #6 (February 1952) https://www.comics.org/issue/215917/cover/4/
Weird Terror

center back girl is holding

Web of Evil
The Unseen #11 (August 1953) https://www.comics.org/issue/306546/cover/4/

right back boy is holding

Web of Evil
Web of Evil

left front boy is holding
Mister Mystery #2 (November 1951) https://www.comics.org/issue/9211/cover/4/
Strange Mysteries #20 (November 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11700/cover/4/

center front girl is holding

House of Mystery
Wonder Woman
Strange Mysteries #21 (January 1955) https://www.comics.org/issue/11847/cover/4/

right front boy is holding

Western Thrillers #2 (December 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/76576/cover/4/
Chamber of Chills Magazine #25 (October 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11614/cover/4/
Weird Mysteries #12 (September 1954) https://www.comics.org/issue/11549/cover/4/

Offline Yoc

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.1
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 08:12:42 AM »
Thanks SS, I had every faith in your tracking abilities.

Offline Yoc

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Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.2
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 10:26:46 AM »
Hi Gang,
This continues from Pt1 above.

Several state legislators were looking into the comics industry.  The New York State Joint Legislative Committee to Study the Publication of Comics convened in 1949, and issued it's first annual report in 1950. It would continue through the 50s but with a name change to the New York Joint Legislative Committee to Study the Publication and Dissemination of Objectionable and Obscene Materials and after 1954 focused on men's magazines and paperback books.

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#1 - 1948-LA Councilman displaying books
And the Senate was hardly the only government body examining comics and other publications.  Here's one of LA Councilman Ed J. Davenport from 1948.

Los Angeles Daily News Negatives
UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library

Holding My Life True Stories in Pictures (Fox) #4 (September 1948).

In 1949, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a law giving a detailed description of what crimes forbidden in comic books. They included murder, rape, robbery, theft, assault with weapons or chemicals, kidnapping, mayhem, manslaughter and others. Anybody selling a crime comic to someone under age 18 would be fined up to 500 dollars or given a 6 month sentence. The ACMP fought the law and it was struck down by the California Supreme Court.


#2 - 1951-Senator Kefauver (D-TN)
(07.26.190 - 08.10.1963)
Democrat Senator of Tennessee from 1949 until his death in 1963.  He would eventually run two failed campaigns for President in 1952 and 1956.  He made the cover of Time in March, 1951.

On May 2, 1950 Kefauver is appointed chairman of the Special Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce.  This branches into a study of juvenile delinquency and comic books.  Frederic Wertham appointed psychiatric consultant.  The Committee held televised hearings in fourteen cities and heard testimony from over 600 witnesses.

He'd write a book called 'Crime in America' (1951).

#3 - 1951.01.01-NY Legislature Studies Comic Books -Joel
(Original caption) Members of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee to Study the Publication of Comics question witnesses during a hearing, New York, New York, 1951. Their report, Legislative Document #15, published March 15, 1951, ultimately recommended that the comics industry implement self-regulatory policies. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

On the desk is
Crime SuspenStories (EC) #4 (April-May 1951)

#4 - 1951-NY State Joint Legislative Committee  2
Another picture from the same hearing.

You can read more about this committee at this link:

#5 - 1952.09-"In Defense Of Comic Books" by Leverett Gleason
Published in the 1952.09 issue of Today's Health Magazine.
It's Lev Gleason's attempt to defend the comics industry.  Gleason's biggest hit was 'Crime Does Not Pay' which spawned dozens of crime genre books that were particularly upsetting to comic critics like Dr Wertham.  Lev Gleason would try more kid friendly titles like Dilly, Squeeks, Adventures in Wonderland, Cutie Pie, etc. but none clicked and he stopped selling comics completely by the end of 1956.

He was quite upset he was not called to testify in the 1954 Senate hearings on comics.  You can see the letter at this link: https://www.tebeosfera.com/pics/ART-F321-85-682-118.jpg

#6 - 1952.09-"In Defense Of Comic Books" by Leverett Gleason pg2
The rest of his feature.  It is reprinted in Alter Ego v3 138 in Michael T. Gilbert's Comic Crypt feature.

Other publishers would attempt to defend themselves in different ways.  DC/National Comics started publishing a list of Editorial Advisors Board members.  Marvel/Atlas ran a series of editorials for an eight-month period defending their publications from Dr. Wertham and other critics from November, 1948 through June, 1949, one of which responded to Dr. Wertham's accusations directly and referred to him by name.  EC took a different tact publishing a satirical editorial 'Are You A Red Dupe' which ran in Haunt of Fear #26 (July-August 1954) which you can see here: https://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3390/1346/1600/HauntofFear_026.jpg

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#7 - 1953.09-"What Parents Don't Know About Comic Books" by Dr Fredric Wertham
Wertham wrote his own anti-comics feature published in the Ladies' Home Journal (Sep. 1953). This was made with excerpts from his famous Seduction of the Innocent published a year later.  You can see the entire feature at this link (page links at the bottom): http://www.lostsoti.org/LadiesHomeJournalNovember1953cover.htm

#8 - 1953.09-"What Parents Don't Know About Comic Books" sample
Here's a picture of a comic rack from the feature.  It's hard to argue with the caption he writes for it.

#9 - 1954-LA city councilman Debs
(Original caption) City councilman Ernest Debs holding horror comic books that were purchased in his district in Los Angeles, Calif., 1954

Los Angeles Daily News Negatives
UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library

Tales from the Crypt (EC) #43 (August-September 1954)
Forbdden Worlds (ACG) #31 (July 1954)
Marvel Tales (Marvel) #125 (July 1954)
Strange Mysteries (Superior) #17 (May 1954)
Fight Against Crime (Story) #20 (July 1954)

#10 - 1954.04.21-Sen. Estes Kefauver questioning Bill Gaines
During Sep of 1954 the Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Delinquency held televised hearings on comic books in NYC.  For two days and a later an added third various comics experts appeared in front of the Senate committee.  EC publisher Bill Gaines requested to be included.  His testimony is pretty infamous to this day for the epic failure he had.  He made enemies on the committee for his 'Are You A Red Dupe' editorial.  In this picture Kefauver is holding a copy of Crime SuspenStories #22 and asks if it was in 'good taste':

Senator Estes Kefauver: ... This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?

Gaines: Yes sir, I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.

#11 - 1954.04.21-Dr Wertham testifying before the Senate Subcommittee
From the TV broadcast.  Wertham called for laws to be passed to prohibit the circulation and display of comic books to children under the age of fifteen.

You can see some of the TV footage with Dr. Wertham testifying as well as Bill Gaines from a later interview at this YouTube link:

#12 - 1954.06.04-James A Fitzpatrick
(original caption) Assemblyman James A. Fitzpatrick reads from comic book at Juvenile Delinquency hearing.  (Photo Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images)

Panic (EC) #1 (February-March 1954)

You can hear a radio recording of a session at this link: http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/items/show/483
MUNI News. "Hearing on Horror Comics." WNYC Radio (21 April 1954). New York City Department of Records. Web.

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#13 - 1954.06.04-Open Comic Book Hearings
(Original caption) Senator Thomas D. Hennings, Senator Estes Kefauver, Senator Robert C. Hendrickson, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, and Ricard Clendenen, Subcommittee Investigator, look over sample covers of comic books at a New York hearing to determine if those featuring crime are factors in a nationwide increase in juvenile delinquency.

Photo credit: Nydailynews.com

#14 - 1954.06.04-Display of objectionable comics colour recreation
And here is a recreation of the above display found online.  Creator unknown.

#15 - 1954.04.28-The Times [Munster,_Indiana]
A typical newspaper story on the Senate hearings.

The committee's final conclusions would conceded that there was no clear relationship between juvenile crime rates and comic book content.  They strongly suggested comics get their house in order.  But the damage was done and the media and general consensus was comics were bad news.  Sales had been getting steadily worse and publishers were leaving the field for greener pastures.

#16 - 1954.04.28-San Mateo [California] Times
And a rare editorial sympathetic to the comic publishers.  The Senate Hearings were done but the media and public were far from done.

#17 - 1954-Star of the Sea students pose ripping comic books
(Original caption) 7th grade students from Star of Sea grammar school located in San Francisco are tearing up comic books in a campaign against the "evils" of comics in spring 1954.  The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Cahill (center), the daughter of the chief of police Thomas Cahill.

Photo courtesy of John Freeman.  A larger version of the pic is on this link:

3rd row from front -
2nd boy from right Tales From The Crypt (EC) unknown.

2nd row from front -
1st from right - possibly Trump;
2nd boy from right Dick Tracy (Harvey) #70 (12.1953),
3rd from right.

Front Row -
Far left - Crime Suspenstories (EC) #18 (August-September 1953)
2nd from left - Mystery Tales (Marvel) #15 (September 1953)
3nd from left - Weird Fantasy #18  (March-April 1953)

#18 - 1954-Tulsa comics for movie tickets
Here's a sneaky idea someone in Tulsa thought up to take advantage of the anti-comics hysteria.  Read the caption to learn more.

COMICS (l to r):
Madhouse (Farrell) #3 (July-August 1954)
Chamber of Chills Magazine (Harvey) #24 (July 1954)
Astonishing (Marvel) #4 (June 1951)
This Magazine Is Haunted (Charlton) #17 (May 1954)
The Thing (Charlton) #5 (October-November 1952)
Web of Mystery (Ace) #19 (July 1953)
Voodoo (Farrell) #16 (July-August 1954)
Haunt of Fear (EC) #16 [2] (July-August 1950)
Haunt of Fear (EC) #16 (November-December 1952)
Dark Mysteries (Master) #15 (December 1953)
Adventures into the Unknown (ACG) #59 (September-October 1954)
Tales from the Crypt (EC) #40 (February-March 1954)
Strange Fantasy (Farrell) #12 (June-July 1954)
Vault of Horror (EC)#40 (December 1954-January 1955)

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#19 - 1954.09.26-Rochester Democrat Anti-comics political cartoon
One of my all time favourites from this anti-comics era.  Talk about a visual!

#20 - 1954-Seduction of the Innocent book cover
Wertham's book came out about the same time as the Senate hearings on comics were happening in NYC.  I'm sure that didn't hurt his sales at all.

You can read about the book and contents here:

And one of the best critiques of the book was by David Thrasher “The Comics and Delinquency: Cause or Scapegoat,” published in the Journal of Educational Sociology, vol. 23, no. 4, [Dec] 1949.  Thrasher criticizes Wertham's methods, and and suggests that he is projecting social frustrations upon comics.  You can read it all at this link: http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/items/show/158

#21 - 1954-Parade of Pleasure book cover
Another book that talks about the ills of the media.  Unlike the SOTI book this one covers U.S. movies, comic books, pin-up magazines, early television, radio, and detective fiction (which he calls 'crook-books').

COMICS pictured on the dust jacket:
(top row)
Blackhawk (Quality) #62 (March 1953)
Combat (Marvel) #10 (March 1953)
Master Comics (Fawcett) #132 (February 1953)
Crime and Justice (Charlton) #14 (July 1953)

(next row of comics)
Classics Illustrated (Gilberton) #89 - Crime and Punishment (November 1951)
World War III (Ace) #2 (May 1953)
Fight against Crime (Story) #15 (September 1953)
Horrors of War (Star) #12 (January 1953)
Combat Kelly (Marvel) #12 (April 1953)

(next row of comics)
Battle Brady (Marvel) #11 (February 1953)
Tales from the Crypt (EC) #31 (August-September 1952)
Combat Kelly (Marvel) #12 (April 1953)
Battlefront (Marvel) #11 (April 1953)
Unknown war comic

(last row of comics)
Vault of Horror (EC) #26 (August-September 1952)
Atomic War! (Ace) #4 (April 1953)
Terrors of the Jungle (Star) #21 (February 1953)
Adventure Comics (DC) #189 (June 1953)
T-Man (Quality) #11 (May 1953)
Blackhawk (Quality) #66 (July 1953)
Battle Action (Marvel) #12 (May 1953)

#22 - 1954.04-Denver newsstand
(Photo By Floyd H. McCall/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
If you could find them there was still an audience for crime and horror books out there.

Boy is reading Daredevil Comics (Lev Gleason) #111 (June 1954)

Rack far left, (top to bottom):
Tor (St John) #3 (May 1954)
Mystery Tales (Marvel) #20 (July 1954 )
This Magazine Is Haunted (Charlton) #17 (May 1954)
Beyond (Ace) unknown
Witches Tales (Harvey) #10 (May 1952) likely
Weird Terror (Comic Media) unknown

Rack middle row:
Vault of Horror (EC) #37 (June-July 1954)
Mysterious Adventures (Story) #20 (June 1954)

Rack right row:
Nuts! (Premier) unknown
Eh  (Charlton) unknown
Madhouse (Farrell) unknown
Unsane (Star) unknown
Whack (St John) unknown

Wall display top to bottom (l-r)
Young Brides (Prize) v2 #11 (17) (July-August 1954)
Daredevil Comics (Lev Gleason) #111 (June 1954) again
Patsy Walker (Marvel) #53 (July 1954)
Uncle Scrooge (Dell) #5 (March-May 1954)
Four Color (Dell) #558 - Elmer Fudd (May 1954)
Bob Hope (DC) #27 (June-July 1954)

Bottom: (l-r)
Marge's Tubby (Dell) unknown
Marge's Little Lulu Tubby Annual (Dell) #2 [March] 1954)
A Date with Judy (DC) #41 (June-July 1954)
Little Iodine (Dell) #23 (April-May 1954)
Walter Lantz Woody Woodpecker (Dell) #24 (April-May 1954)
Walter Lantz Andy Panda (Dell) #25 (May-June 1954 )
Tom and Jerry unknown

From Tommy Burns

#23 - 1954.10.12-Comic burning
Comic burnings continued.  From the Austin Daily Herald courtesy of the 4-H Clubs of Minnesota.

#24 - 1954.09-Clubwoman cover
Cover story and article about the crime entertainment business.

Cover features images of, from left to right:
Crime and Justice (Charlton) #20 (September 1954)
Lawbreakers (Charlton) #2 (May-June 1951)
Select Detective (D.S. Pub) v1#3 (December 1948-January 1949)
Crime Exposed (Marvel) #6 (October 1951)
The Perfect Crime (Cross Pub) #14 (July 1951)
This Magazine Is Haunted (Charlton) #20 (September 1954)

That's it for this batch, hope you liked them,

Offline Yoc

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Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.3
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2019, 10:08:03 AM »
Continued from Pt2 above.

Hi Gang,
Here's more on the anti-comics hysteria of the fifties.
At some point in 1954 comic publishers read the room and decide they need to show the public they were taking their concerns seriously.  They created the Comics Code Authority and drafted a very strict code for what could be shown in comics.  Far more strict than the movie's Hays Code.  The words "horror or terror" were banned from comic titles.  EC's Bill Gaines had tried to hold on but distributors were returning his comics without sending them out to newsstands.

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#1 - 1954.09.14-EC calls it quits in The Daily Oklahoman
Bill Gaines calls a press conference and announces he is no longer selling comics.  He switches to magazine comics hybrids for another year but folds them all leaving him only Mad Magazine still viable.

#2 - 1953.07-Reading a Wolverton
The quiet joy of a horror comic.  Adults just don't understand.   ;)

Reading Weird Tales of the Future (Stanley Morse) #8 (July 1953)

#3 - 1954.05.29-Printed Crime Comics, Firm Is Fined $1,000 - CANADA
Meanwhile in Canada laws were created in 1949 about publishing and distributing crime comics.  Superior Comics (many of their books are on DCM) was convicted as told in this Globe and Mail story. 

One of the only articles found regarding the prosecution of a comic book publisher for violating the sanctions that were put on the publishing of Crime comics. Superior Comics was fined and suspended for continuing to publish questionable content.
- http://crisisofinnocence.library.ryerson.ca/files/original/c436cc2a41f2d9e17e10c75863b284b7.pdf

#4 - 1954.09.17-Birth of CAA
The creation of the Comics Code Authority is announced in the papers.
Shared by Philip Smith on Facebook

#5 - 1954.10.10-Winslow, Maine comic burning
The burnings continued.
(Original source) Scoutmaster Richard McKallip feeds a community bonfire with comics after a house-to-house collection netted some 1,000 books on horror, crime and sex in a drive to destroy them at Winslow, Maine on Oct. 10, 1954. The books were collected in a 2 1/2 hour house-to-house canvass by Boy Scouts as Police Chief Raymond Lachance toured the town in a cruiser appealing to parents to contribute any objectionable publications on hand. (AP Photo)

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#6 - 1954.09-Horror comics feature -Post-Gazette photo
Photo montage from another anti-comics newspaper story.

Boy is reading Weird Terror #13 (Comic Media) #13 (September 1954)

Clockwise from top left:
Mystery Tales (Marvel) #23 (November 1954)
Dark Mysteries (Master) #17
Vault of Horror (EC) #40 (December 1954-January 1955)
Unknown 'Outlaw'
Forbidden Worlds (ACG) #34 (October-November 1954)
Unknown Web of Mystery (Ace)
Haunt of Fear (EC) #27 (September-October 1954)
Vault of Horror (EC) #39 (October-November 1954)
Boy Loves Girl (Lev Gleason) #48 (October 1954)
Marvel Tales (Marvel) #128 (November 1954)
Chamber of Chills (Harvey) #25 (October 1954)
Mysterious Adventures (Story) #22 (October 1954)
Baffling Mysteries (Ace) #22 (September 1954)
The Thing! (Charlton) #17 (November 1954)
Hi-School Romance (Harvey) #32 (October 1954)
Shocking Mystery Cases (Star) #60 (October 1954)
Uncanny unknown
Lovers unknown
Hand of Fate (Ace) #25a (November 1954)
Real Love unknown
Undercover Girl (ME) #7 [A-1 #118] (1954)

#7 - 1954.10.10-Nation Stirred Against "Love" and "Horror" Comics.
This pic was used to illustrate an anti-comics article that ran in several different newspapers.
AP Newsfeatures photo

Arne, Sigrid. "Nation Stirred Against "Love" and "Horror" Comics." The Cedar Rapids Gazette, 10 October, 1954

Reading Menace (Marvel) #11 (May 1954)

#8 - 1954.10.22-The Press Democrat
The Comics Code is launched in Sept 1954 with NY Magistrate Charles F. Murphy, 44, to head the organization as the comics czar.  You can read what was in the 1954 version of the code at this link: http://www.lostsoti.org/TheComicsCode1954.htm

(Original caption) Code Administrator Charles F. Murphy is shown in his comic code authority office, 41 East 42nd Street, as he held a press conference today to tell what his office has accomplished since it was created two months ago.

#9 - 1954.12.12-More comics up in flames -Vancouver Herald
(Original caption) An image of Len Wynne, head of Vancouver's Junior Chamber of Commerce, throwing popular horror comics on to a public "pyre" in Vancouver, BC CANADA..

8000 comics were claimed to be collected and burned in this burning.


#10 - 1955.02.20-Clean up demanded by Senate committee
The Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Delinquency results come out with strong words for the comics industry.
(Original caption) Crime, Horror Comic Book Cleanup Demanded by Delinquency Probers: Senators Hit Comic Books

Lyons, Richard L. "Crime, Horror Comic Book Cleanup Demanded by Delinquency Probers." The Washington Post and Times Herald, 20 February 1955


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#11 - 1955.02.26-Norwich, Connecticut Comic Book Burning
(Original caption) John Chiangi and Lisa Drobnes add their comic book collection in the back of a pickup truck at Norwich, Conn., Feb. 26, 1955. The Women's Auxiliary of the American Legion has scheduled a burning of such books, inviting children to bring in 10 books in exchange for a "clean" book. Looking on from left are, Mrs. Charles B. Gilbert, former national auxiliary president; Mrs. Edward Robinson; and Mrs. Webster Copp. The scheduled bonfire brought protests from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Book Publishing Council.
(AP Photo)


I see an Astonishing, Uncanny Tales, Web Of Mystery, Strange Fantasy, Big Town, Voodoo, Fantastic maybe even a Lone Ranger.

#12 - 1955-02.12-Sen. Estes Kefauver and family
Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver posing with his family in campaign mode for his failed Presidential bid the following year.  Kefauver is shown here with his daughters holding Dell comics. Dell refused to join the Comics Code Authority since they believed their comics were already wholesome and they did not want to be associated with other objectionable publishers.

COMICS: Western Roundup (Dell) #3 (July-September 1953))
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan (Dell) #54 (March 1954)

#13 - 1955.03-Washington State Senator pointing
Senator Nat Washington of Washington State pointing at some comic book panels in March 1955. No clue what book he's using.  Anyone know here?

#14 - 1956.09.15-Mrs Guy Percy Trulock, second head of the CCA
After Judge Murphy quit the job Mrs Trulock, who had been President of the New York City Federation of Women's Clubs, was next in charge of the CCA.  She lasted until she retired in 1965 to be replaced by Leonard Darvin.

#15 - 1956-Seal of the CCA
This ad was put on the top of many spinner racks starting in 1956.  An attempt to show parents these comics were safe for their children to read.

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#16 - 1957.09.25-Fight against smutty literature -Miami Herald
Part of a 1947 anti-comics article about the Coral Gables Woman's Club who organized a group called the Decent Literature Council, which kept horror comics off the newsstands.  These siblings, Maureen and Lorraine, could only glom onto "decent" comics.


Girl is reading
Turok, Son of Stone (Dell) #5 (September-November 1956)

Casper the Friendly Ghost (Harvey) #49 (October 1956)
Bugs Bunny (Dell) #45 (October-November 1955)
Bugs Bunny (Dell) #50 (August-September 1956)
Casper #49 again
Dennis the Menace (Pines) #18 (September 1956)
Rin Tin Tin (Dell) #12 (March-April 1956)
Unknown flying horse book

#17 - 1957.09.25-Fight against smutty literature -Miami Herald
A better version of the photo from this article.

#18 - 1957.Fall - The Freelancer #4 cover
Besides the Mort Walker feature there's another on the 'suicide of comics' in the 50s.
You can read the Walker story as well as a Jack Cole one from #2 on this blog:

#19 - Freelancer #4 -Suicide_of_Comics pg1
And here's the article itself by Hallas Hunter who almost takes some pleasure in the downturn comics took in the 50s.  The publisher he tells committed suicide was St.John comics' Archer St. John.

#20 - Freelancer #4 -Suicide_of_Comics pg2
The rest of the feature.

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#21 - Smoking child and comic
I'm including this just because I can picture this era seeing all child comic readers like this.
(Original caption) A two-year-old smoking. (Photo by Michael Rougier/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


#22 - 1959.10.09-Confidential File tv show
The tv show "Confidential File: Horror Comic Books!", directed by Paul Coates, broadcast October 9, 1955. It showed an over the top scene of children who, after reading comics, torturing one of their friends. 

You can see the show on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI8IJA8kdkI

#23 - 1963.04-Wertham and Hitchcock
Frame from the 2014 documentary 'Diagram for Delinquents' (Robert A. Emmons)

One source says a 1959 follow-up to Seduction on the effects of television on children, to be titled 'The War on Children' was written. Much to Wertham's frustration, no publishers were interested in publishing it.

This picture above is from an Redbook Magazine interview had Wertham do with famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock in 1963.  You can read the interview here: https://alexbuchet.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/wertham-interviews-hitchcock-the-redbook-conversation/

#24 - 1965-shocking-truth ad
The stigma of comic reading was still alive in this 1965 Great Books ad.  Just look at that leer... gives you goosebumps don't it?  ;)

That's it for this anti-comics hysteria topic.  I hope everyone enjoyed it.

Offline SuperScrounge

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.1
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2019, 04:03:07 PM »
You've already posted that recent find. Scroll up to find my identifications.  ;)

Offline Yoc

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s pt.1
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2019, 08:39:15 PM »
Dang, now I'm losing track of what I shared and didn't.  I'll pull that one from the last message.
Thanks for catching that SS.

Offline darkmark (RIP)

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2019, 04:39:19 PM »
#1 - 1941-Congressional Library exhibit...  rack"?  Yep, I'd say that's somehow appropriate. ;-)

Offline Yoc

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Re: Historical Photos - Anti-Comics Hysteria of the 50s
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2019, 07:52:38 PM »
Well, they've got some time to kill these days right?   ;)