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Anti-Comics Articles

Articles and publications related to the comic book censorship movement of the 1940's and 1950's.

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American Home   November, 1949, p. 29 The Comics Bogey by Reita I. Bean, an article that promises "ways to make this menance less menacing."
American Journal of Psychotherapy   v2, #3, July, 1948 Abstract of the symposium "The Psychopathology of Comic Books", held by the Association for the Advancement of Psychotherapy, March 19, 1948. You might call this "The Secret Origin of Dr. Wertham". His articles in Saturday Review of Literature, Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest received greater exposure among the general public, but this article in a professional journal represents one of Dr. Wertham's earliest published anti-comics works, with material by Gershon "Love & Death" Legman as well. Read it!
American Scholar   Winter, 1943-1944 Pro-comics article "Why 100,000,000 Americans Read Comics" by William Moulton Marston
Arizona Quarterly   Autumn, 1945, pp. 34-48 "Comics and the Super State" by Walter J. Ong
  Art Digest   May, 1949 Article on an "exhibit" at the Charles-Fourth Gallery in New York City called "School for Sadism: Folk Art in the Atomic Age". The exhibit was anti-comics propaganda based on Wertham's work. The photos on display were meant to be provocative, such as a photo of young children staring in shock at the True Crime v1#2 image of the needle to the eye.
Bellevue Studies in Psychiatry   Vol. 2, 1953 Book number two in this series, Aggression, Hostility and Anxiety in Children contains only a brief mention of comic books.
Bellevue Studies in Psychiatry   Vol. 3, 1954 Book number three in this series, A Dynamic Psychopathology of Childhood contains an entire chapter on comic books.
The Case Against the Comics   1944 Catechetical Guild pamphlet about the dangers of comic books.
Censorship of Comic Books: A Statement of Opposition on Civil Liberties Grounds   May, 1955 Anti-censorship pamphlet from the ACLU; includes two short extracts from Wertham writings.
  Chicago Daily News   May 8, 1940 First Sterling North article.
  Choate News   December 8, 1951 Prep school newspaper with the anti-comics article, "Modern Literature Plagues 20th Century Kiddies"
Clubwoman   September, 1954 Cover story and article about the crime entertainment business. Cover features images of, from left to right, Crime and Justice #20, Lawbreakers #2, Select Detective #3, Exposed #6, Perfect Crime #14 and This Magazine is Haunted #20.
Collier's   March 27, 1948, pp. 22-23 Judith Crist "Horror in the Nursery" Read it!
Comics   1943 Anti-comics pamphlet by Sister Mary Clare, cited by Dr. Wertham on pp. 228-229 of Seduction of the Innocent.
Comics and Your Children   1954 Anti-comics pamphlet by George Pumphrey, which likely came out in 1954.
Comics, Radio, Movies - And Children   March, 1949 Josette Frank. Public Affairs Pamphlet #148 in a series. This pamphlet went through several editions over the years, eventually including "Television" in the title and content.
Commentary   January, 1949, pp. 80-88 Norbert Muhlen. “Comic Books and Other Horrors," an article indicating that comic books are lessons in fascism. Read it!
Commentary   June, 1954 "Paul, the Horror Comics and Dr. Wertham" Read it!
Coronet   August, 1944 "Are the Comics Harmful Reading for Children?" by Milton Caniff
  Educational Administration and Supervision   #8, May, 1942, pp. 344-353 Paul Witty, Ethel Smith, and Anne Coomer. “Reading the Comics in Grades IX-XII”
  Elementary English   January, 1955 Paul Witty and Robert A. Sizemore. "Reading the Comics - A Study of Studies and an Evaluation"
  Elementary English   February, 1955 Paul Witty and Robert A. Sizemore. "Reading the Comics - A Study of Studies and an Evaluation"
  Elementary English   March, 1955 Paul Witty and Robert A. Sizemore. "Reading the Comics - A Study of Studies and an Evaluation"
Everywoman's   April, 1955, pp. 20-21+ "Attention All Parents! What Should You Do About Comic Books?" anti-comics article
Family Circle   February, 1949, pp. 60-63 Harvey Zorbaugh & Mildred Gilman. "What Can YOU do about Comic Books?" Read it!
Fortune   April, 1933 "The Funny Papers" an article that describes the big money being made on comic strips, published about the time the American comic book was born.
Harper's Magazine   July, 1947 "After Hours" column involves the columnist's daughter and her large collection of comic books.
Harper's Magazine   July, 1951, pp. 6-7 In the editoral feature "Personal & Otherwise", the editors criticize the Kefauver committee's investigation of comic books, and Dr. Wertham's work. Wertham responded in the September issue.
  Hartford Courant   February 14, 1954 "Depravity for Children - Ten Cents a Copy" anti-comics article
  Harvard Law Review   January, 1955 Article regarding anti-comics laws.
Headquarters Detective   June, 1940 Not an article related to comic books, but this magazine profoundly influenced the comic book industry. In the 1940's New York had a law on the books that prohibited the sale of a "magazine.. principally made up of criminal news, police reports, or accounts of criminal deeds, or pictures, or stories of deeds of bloodshed, lust or crime." Under this statute, a bookseller was convicted of selling this very magazine, Headquarters Detective #1. The United States Supreme Court, on March 29, 1948, struck down this law as unconstitutional, which paved the way for an explosion of crime comic books and eventually horror comics as well.
Household   March, 1949 "The Truth About Comics" by Josette Frank
  Journal of Education   Journal of Education #12 (1944), pp. 14-15 James Landsdowne. “The Viciousness of the Comic Book”
  Journal of Educational Psychology   March, 1942, pp. 173-182 Paul Witty, Ethel Smith, and Anne Coomer. “Reading the Comics in Grades IV-VII”
  Journal of Educational Research   Vol 60, February, 1947, pp. 458-464 Florence Heisler. "A Comparison of Comic Book and Non-Comic Book Readers of the Elementary School"
  Journal of Educational Sociology   Vol 18, December, 1944, pp. 204-213 Sidonie Gruenberg. "The Comics as a Social Force"
  Journal of Educational Sociology   Vol 23, 1949, pp. 195-205 Frederick Thrasher. “The Comics and Delinquency: Cause or Scapegoat”
  Journal of Educational Sociology   December, 1949 Disparages Wertham’s theories. Paul Witty begins to publish a series of academic articles on comic books.
  Journal of Experimental Education   #10, December, 1941, pp. 105-109 “Reading the Comics—A Comparative Study”
  Journal of Experimental Education   #10, December, 1941, pp. 100-104 “Children’s Interest in Reading the Comics”
Ladies' Home Journal   November, 1953, pp. 50-53 Fredric Wertham. “What Parents Don't Know About Comic Books” Read it!
Legislative Problems   #2, 1955 Edward L. Feder. "Comic Book Regulation", published by Bureau of Public Administration, University of California, Berkeley.
Life Magazine   September 25, 1950 "Democratic Comic Books" is a two-page illustrated spread featuring, among other things, the Story of Harry S Truman comic book (which Wertham later mentioned in SOTI).
The Lure of the Comics   April, 1952 British anti-comics pamphlet published by the International Women's Day Committee
McCall's   December, 1947, pp. 24-25+ Selma Robinson. "What Do They See in the Comics?"
  The Nation's Schools   Vol 27, October, 1953, pp. 54-55+ Herbert S. Lewin "Facts and Fears About the Comics"
  National-Parent- Teacher   January, 1942, pp. 29-30 Paul Witty. “Those Troublesome Comics”
New Republic   February 17, 1947, pp. 20-23 Marya Mannes. “Junior has a Craving”
  New Republic   October 10, 1949 Malcolm Cowley. “Sex, Censorship & Superman”
Newsweek   December 27, 1943, p. 55 "Escapist Paydirt - Comic Books Influence Friends and Make Plenty of Money Too"
  Newsweek   December 20, 1948 "Fighting Gunfire with Fire" contains comic book sales figures, per David Hajdu's book.
Newsweek   January 29, 1951, p. 23 "New York Wakes Up to Find 1500 Teen Age Dope Addicts" article cited by Dr. Wertham on page 25 of Seduction of the Innocent.
Newsweek   May 3, 1954, p. 60 "Are Comics Horrible?" article about the U.S. Senate hearings and the comic book industry.
The New Yorker   April 7, 1951, pp. 94-95 Two leters from Bill Gaines: one praising coverage by the New Yorker, and the other criticizing it.
The New Yorker   May 8, 1954, pp. 122-129 Extensive review of Seduction of the Innocent
  New York Herald Tribune   October 28, 1947 "Comic Books are Called Obscene by N.Y. Psychiatrist at Hearing"
  New York Herald Tribune   April 22, 1954 "Whether Crime 'Comic' Books Lead Child Astray is Debated"
  New York Times   October 30, 1948 "Comics Debated as Good or Evil"
  New York Times   November 25, 1948 "Modern Comics Hit by Mayors' Report"
  New York Times   April 22, 1954 "No Harm in Horror, Comics Issuer Says"
  Our Rejected Children   1950 Book with a section on juvenile delinquency that includes a chapter on comic books.
Pageant   April, 1950 Article on a 13 year old who saved another child using artificial respiration learned from a comic book. This article is cited in defense of comic books in Harper's Magazine, September, 1951, p. 16.
Parents' Magazine   February, 1950, pp. 38-39+ Jesse L. Murrell. "Cincinnati Rates the Comic Books"
Parents' Magazine   October, 1950, pp. 44-45+ Jesse L. Murrell. "Cincinnati Again Rates the Comic Books"
  Parents' Magazine   November, 1951 Article on Cincinnati's comic book ratings
Parents' Magazine   November, 1952, pp. 48-49+ Jesse L. Murrell, D.D. "Annual Rating of Comic Magazines"
  Parents' Magazine   October, 1953, pp. 54-55+ Jesse L. Murrell, "Annual Rating of Comic Magazines"
  Parents' Magazine   August, 1954 Article on Cincinnati's comic book ratings
Parents' Magazine   August, 1955, pp 48-50 Jesse L. Murrell, D.D. "Are Comics Better or Worse?"
Picture Post   May 17, 1952, pp. 33-35 "Should US Comics Be Banned?"
Publisher's Weekly   July 21, 1945 Article about Lindsay Baird of Rewl Publications, who was found guilty of illegal use of paper, using 300 tons of paper to print comic books without a permit.
  Publisher's Weekly   September 6, 1947 "540 Million Comics Published During 1946"
  Publisher's Weekly   May 1, 1954 "The Hundred Million Dollar Market for Comics"
Reader's Digest   August, 1948, pp. 15-18 Fredric Wertham “The Comics . . . Very Funny!” Condensed from Saturday Review of Literature Read it!
Reader's Digest   November, 1948, pp. 56-57 “Common Sense about Comics” reprinted from Parents' Magazine
Reader's Digest   May, 1954 Fredric Wertham "Comic Books - Blueprints for Delinquency!" Condensed from Seduction of the Innocent
Reader's Digest   June, 1954 T. E. Murphy. "For the Kiddies to Read" by the author who wrote the anti-comics articles in the Hartford Courant.   Read it!
Reader's Digest   November, 1954 T.E. Murphy. "The Face of Violence" anti-comics article. Cites several specific comic books: 1) A murderer who dissects his victims: "He made the first incision across the throat...", "Now I shall make an incision in the upper arm and separate the muscles so that you may identify them." 2) One comic book that shows how to make a cap gun into a deadly weapon. Another that shows how to make brass knuckles from milk-can handles. 3) The cover of Crime SuspenStories #22
Reader's Digest   Feburary, 1956 T.E. Murphy. "Progress in Cleaning Up the Comics"
  Religious Education   November-December, 1956 "The Curse of the Comic Books"
Report of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee to Study Comic Books   March, 1954 Results of the legislature's investigation into comic books.
  Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency on the Judiciary   0 US Senate document
The Right to Read: The Battle Against Censorship   1955 1955 book by Paul Blanshard, with a chapter on comic books.
Saturday Review Cavalcade   1950 Digest-sized collection of Saturday Review articles, including a reprint of Wertham's "The Comics, Very Funny"
Saturday Review of Literature   March 20, 1948 John Mason Brown “The Case Against the Comics” and Al Capp, “The Case for the Comics”
Saturday Review of Literature   May 29, 1948 Fredric Wertham “The Comics . . . Very funny!”  Read it!
  Saturday Review of Literature   June 19, 1948 Readers respond to Dr. Wertham's criticism of comic books.
Saturday Review of Literature   July 17, 1948 Readers respond to Dr. Wertham's criticism of comic books.
Saturday Review of Literature   July 24, 1948 Readers respond to Dr. Wertham's criticism of comic books. The most eloquent response is the one from David Pace Wigransky.
  Saturday Review of Literature   July 31, 1948 Wertham corrects his statement, made in the May 29 issue, about Classics Illustrated #44.
  Saturday Review of Literature   August 21, 1948 Readers respond to David Pace Wigransky's defense of comic books.
  Saturday Review of Literature   September 25, 1948 One reader doubts the authenticity of David Pace Wigransky's letter, and is presented with evidence by the editors of SRL that Wigransky did indeed author the letter that was attributed to him. Another reader points to a newspaper story of torture committed by children, and concludes that this proves the need to ban comic books.
  Saturday Review of Literature   October 16, 1948 In the letters column, a reader urges the woman who was pushing for a comic book ban to use her brain.
Saturday Review of Literature   July 29, 1950, pp. 22-24 "Knock Knock Knock" by John Mason Brown criticizes Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated
Saturday Review of Literature   September 2, 1950, p. 26 Contains letters to the editor in response to John Mason Brown's July 29 article, including a letter from Dr. Wertham.
Scouting   January, 1954, p. 3+ "Who is to Blame for Juvenile Delinquency?" by J. Edgar Hoover, an article that stands out because it makes no mention of comic books.
Scouting   September, 1954 Anti-comics article
Scouting   October, 1954, p. 17 "Comic Books Ain't Comical"
  Sociology and Social Research   Vol 33, March-April 1949, pp. 279-284 Thomas F. Hoult. "Comic Books and Juvenile Delinquency"
Time   March 29, 1948, pp. 66, 68 "Puddles of Blood" article about the "Psychopathology of Comic Books" symposium
Time   April 19, 1948, pp. 11-12 Letter to the editor challenging Dr. Wertham's assertion that comic books are dangerous.
Time   May 3, 1954, p. 78 "Horror Comics" small article about Kefauver investigation. Article cites Crime SuspenStories #22 cover.
Today's Health   June, 1950, pp. 20-21+ "Are Comic Books a Menace" by Thomas and Lois Hoult
Today's Health   February, 1955 pp. 18-21 "Comics, Television, and Our Children" by Paul Witty
Tops    March, 1954, pp. 38-39 "Jekyll-Hyde of the Comics" short article about Bill Gaines, indicating that he has had financial success with, and criticism for, EC's horror comics. The article also notes EC's stories that are "well written, well-plotted, ruthless in their revelation of the kind of horror that lies just below the surface of life in modern America." Includes four Wally Wood panels from Shock SuspenStories #11. Read it!
The Truth About Comic Books   1950's Anti-comics pamphlet by Ruth I. Johnson. This religious tract quotes from Wertham's Ladies' Home Journal article (dated November, 1953), but does not mention Seduction of the Innocent, so it would seem that this was published in late 1953 or early 1954, prior to the publication date of SOTI (April, 1954). Many thanks to eBayer Comicstew (Stewart Silver) for discovering this previously-unknown piece of comic book history and for providing this information!
Woman's Day   September, 1948, p. 44-45+ "What About the Comic Books?" by Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg, Director, Child Study Association of America
  Writer's Digest   September, 1944 Mort Weisinger article.
Writer's Digest   November, 1947 "There's Money in Comics!" by Stan Lee! Read it!
Your Child and Radio, TV, Comics, and Movies   1952 Better Living Booklet #10 by Paul Witty and Harry Bricker.


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