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Adventures into Terror #43-44 (first two issues), then #3- 31 (Nov. 1950 - May 1954) orig. numbering continued from Joker.
In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent, a tome that claimed horror, crime and other comics were a direct cause of juvenile delinquency. Wertham asserted, largely based on undocumented anecdotes, that reading violent comic books encouraged violent behavior in children. Wertham painted a picture of a large and pervasive industry, shrouded in secrecy and masterminded by a few, that operated upon the innocent and defenseless minds of the young. He further suggested the industry strong-armed vendors into accepting their publications and forced artists and writers into producing the content against their will.
Wertham alleged comics stimulated deviant sexual behavior. He noted female breasts in comics protruded in a provocative way and special attention was lavished upon the female genital region. A cover by Matt Baker from Phantom Lady was reprinted in the book with the caption, "Sexual stimulation by combining 'headlights' with the sadist's dream of tying up a woman". Boys interviewed by Wertham said they used comic book images for masturbation purposes, and one young comics reader confessed he wanted to be a sex maniac. Wertham contended comics promoted homosexuality by pointing to the Batman–Robin relationship and calling it a homosexual wish dream of two men living together. He observed that Robin was often pictured standing with his legs spread and the genital region evident.
Most alarming, Wertham contended that comic books turned children into deceitful little beings, reading funny-animal comics in front of their parents but turning to horror comics the moment their parents left the room. Wertham warned of suspicious stores and their clandestine back rooms where second hand comics of the worst sort were peddled to children. The language used evoked images of children prowling about gambling dens and whorehouses, and anxious parents felt helpless in the face of such a powerful force as the comics industry. Excerpts from the book were published in Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest, lending respectability and credibility to Wertham's arguments.
A 14-page portfolio of panels and covers from across the entire comic book industry displayed murder, torture and sexual titillation for the reader's consideration. The most widely discussed art was that from "Foul Play", a horror story from EC about a dishonest baseball player whose head and intestines are used by his teammates in a game. Seduction of the Innocent sparked a firestorm of controversy and created alarm in parents, teachers and others interested in the welfare of children; the concerned were galvanized into campaigning for censorship.
Public criticism brought matters to a head. In 1954, anti-crime crusader Estes Kefauver led the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Dr. Wertham insisted upon appearing before the committee. He first presented a long list of his credentials, and then, in his clipped German accent, spoke with authority on the pernicious influence of comic books upon children. His passionate testimony at the hearings impressed the gathering. Kefauver suggested crime comics indoctrinated children in a way similar to Nazi propaganda. Wertham noted Hitler was a beginner compared to the comics industry.
Publisher William Gaines appeared before the committee and vigorously defended his product and the industry. He took full responsibility for the horror genre, claiming he was the first to publish such comics. He insisted that delinquency was the result of the real environment and not fictional reading materials. His defiant demeanour left the committee (which felt the industry was indefensible), astonished. He had prepared a statement that read in part, "It would be just as difficult to explain the harmless thrill of a horror story to Dr. Wertham as it would be to explain the sublimity of love to a frigid old maid."
Crime Suspenstories, issue 22, April/May 1954, was entered into evidence. The exchange between Gaines and Kefauver led to a front-page story in The New York Times:
"He was asked by Senator Estes Kefauver, Democrat of Tennessee, if he considered in "good taste" the cover of his Shock SuspensStories, which depicted an axe-wielding man holding aloft the severed head of a blond woman. Mr. Gaines replied: "Yes, I do — for the cover of a horror comic."
Though the committee's final report did not blame comics for crime, it recommended that the comics industry tone down its content voluntarily.
By 1953, nearly a quarter of all comic books published were horror titles. In the immediate aftermath of the hearings, however, several publishers were forced to revamp their schedules and drastically censor or even cancel many long-standing comic series.
In September 1954, the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) and its Comics Code Authority (CCA) was formed. The Code had many stipulations that made it difficult for horror comics to continue publication, since any that didn't adhere to the Code's guidelines would likely not find distribution. The Code forbade the explicit presentation of "unique details and methods of crime...Scenes of excessive violence...brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime...all scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism...Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, or torture".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.