The war on comic books

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The Ten-Cent Plague is a new book by David Hajdu examining the early fifties crusade to protect THE CHILDREN from the dangers of comic books. The hysteria was largely the result of a psychiatrist named Fred Wertham.

As the Christian Science Monitor points out, some of the comics singled out by Wertham where inappropriate for children, but most of his complaints where silly. For example, he accused Superman of promoting fascism, and even attacked the morals of Archie’s beloved Betty and Veronica! Wertham justified his work with the claim that “Hitler was a beginner compared to comic books.” Unfortunately, Wertham was not laughed out of polite society, instead his work was the basis for a national effort to protect children form the dangers of costumed supper heroes, when at most his efforts should have severed as a notice to parents to monitor what comics there children weere reading.

I wonder if any of today’s great moral crusades, such as those against trans-fats or Internet poker, will seem as silly to future generations as the “war on comic books” seems to us.

(Hat tip Kent Snyder.)

7:53 pm on April 7, 2008