Comic Censorship-Mastermind revisited

Fredric Wertham war Psychiater und einer der Wortführer bei der Gründung der Comics Code Authority, die in den 50er Jahren zu massiver Zensur bei Comics führte („Depictions of "excessive violence" were forbidden, as were "lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations." Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and zombies could not be portrayed. In addition, comics could not use the words "horror" or "terror" in their titles. The use of the word "crime" was subject to numerous restrictions.“, Wikipedia).

Wertham hatte einen ziemlichen Haufen Papiere hinterlasse, die 1987 vom Library of Congress gekauft wurden und nun der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht wurden. Superinteressant für Comicgeeks wie mich.

His copy of “Kid Colt, Outlaw” (1967) includes a note that of the 111 pictures, 69 were scenes of violence. An issue of “Justice League of America” (1966) includes markings calling attention to the sounds of violence like “thudd,” “whapp” and “poww.”

In addition, Wertham’s papers include patient drawings and his analy­sis of those sketches. He writes of a young patient: “This case demonstrates the confusion created by comic books between fan­tasy and reality … cruelty in children’s play especially directed against girls.”

Wertham testified six times under oath on the harmfulness of comic books, including provid­ing testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Though the committee’s final report did not blame comics for crime, it recom­mended that the comics industry tone down its content voluntarily, thus resulting in the Comics Code Authority.

Ars Technica hat ein paar lustige Zitate aus Werthams Buch „The Seduction of the Innocent“ über Batman, Robin und Wonder Woman und Fredric Wertham wurde übrigens als Fredric Wertheimer 1895 geboren und kam aus… Bayern. Nuff said.

Here's what Seduction said about Batman and Robin, for example:

At home they lead an idyllic life. They are Bruce Wayne and "Dick" Grayson. Bruce Wayne is described as a "socialite" and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce's ward. They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. As they sit by the fireplace the young boy sometimes worries about his partner: "Something's wrong with Bruce. He hasn't been himself these past few days." It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together. Sometimes they are shown on a couch, Bruce reclining and Dick sitting next to him, jacket off, collar open, and his hand on his friend's arm. Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive by the villains and Batman has to give in or "Robin gets killed."

"A boy of thirteen was treated by me in the Clinic while he was on several years' probation," Wertham added. "He and a companion had forced a boy of eight, threatening him with a knife, to undress and carry out sexual practices with them. Like many other homo-erotically inclined children, he was a special devotee of Batman."

And here's what Wertham wrote about Wonder Woman.

"The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat," he observed. "The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable. The Psychiatric Quarterly deplored in an editorial the 'appearance of an eminent child therapist as the implied endorser of a series . . . which portrays extremely sadistic hatred of all males in a framework which is plainly Lesbian'."

Papers of anti-comic book crusader now open to scholars (via /.)