Debunking the Corrupting Effects of Comic Books

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It was 1954 and Dr. Fredric Wertham was testifying before Congress. "Are there any bad effects of comic books?  I may say here on this subject there is practically no controversy," he said. "Anybody who has studied them and seen them knows that some of them have bad effects." Dr. Wertham, author of "Seduction of the Innocent," had a simple case to make against comic books. They corrupted young minds. They were a hazard to society.

Recently, however, another researcher came to a different conclusion. When Carol Tilley, assistant professor at the University of Illinois’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, reviewed Wertham’s papers she found a different story — one of a scientist muddling and fabricating his evidence to suit his conclusions. Paul Levitz is a former president and publisher of DC Comics. He's also author of "The Gold Age of DC Comics."

Guests:

Paul Levitz and Carol Tilley

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [3]

John from Fanwood, NJ

I just read David Hajdu's book "The Ten Cent Plague" which discussed the Fredric Wertham book, along with the juvenile delinquency hearings held by senator Estes Kefauver. My dad drew comics after serving in WW II, and eventually took over the Tarzan syndicated comic strip. Although dad never mentioned the comic witch hunt, in hindsight it's probably why he left the comic book industry. Schools and Boy Scout troops actually organized comic book burnings, according to Hajdu. History does repeat itself, doesn't it?

Feb. 21 2013 03:31 PM
John A

Whatever you say. But where do I find an intellectual society? Everything is a comic nowadays. Certainly billions, yes billions of dollars have gone into blockbuster movies, as one example. And note the regard we hold for the church now, decades after Wertham. Does that prove him right?

Feb. 21 2013 03:15 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Comic books made a bunch of my friends completely nerdy and nuts, but they remain my friends.

Feb. 21 2013 12:49 PM

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