Posts Tagged ‘Comic Books’

So, Fredric Wertham was a liar. In the 1950s, Wertham nearly destroyed the comic book industry, leading an overzealous attack on the whole medium based on his claims that crime comics caused juvenile delinquency. Understand that, in his usage, crime comics referred to any comic containing a criminal act, so all of the superhero comics were included in his criticism. At the time, he managed to rally enough angry parents through his fervor to lead the Crusade Against Comics, nearly crushing the comics industry with his testimony before the United States Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Recently, Carol L. Tilley, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, revealed that Wertham grossly overstated his evidence.

I am not surprised by this, really. In my book, Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths, I acknowledge the bias in Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, his laughably overzealous attack on the comics medium. However laughable it may have been, the book’s publication is commonly regarded as the event signalling the end of the Golden Age of Comics.

Tilley’s findings, having scoured Wertham’s vast depository of notes at the Library of Congress, indicate the differences between his research and his testimony. In her article, “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics,” Tilley reveals many discrepancies, some of which paint Wertham as even more conservative and homophobic than one would have previously thought. Wertham completely misconstrued his evidence in his testimony to the Subcommittee. He did this in a number of ways, such as by combining accounts from multiple cases into a singular, more convincing case, as if the many were just one patient. At times, he would omit evidence that was inconvenient for or contrary to his argument. Furthermore, Wertham would pass off hearsay as if he witnessed the events himself. Clearly, Tilley’s paper discredits Wertham’s worth as an expert.

So, how do these revelations affect how I have covered Wertham in Superheroes? Ultimately, I think it has little bearing on my own arguments regarding Wertham’s work. I readily acknowledge that his argument was overzealous, and it’s not a big step to accept that he exaggerated his findings beyond what can be acceptable. I write in Superheroes that “The soundest portion of Wertham’s heated criticism is that art is a mode of communication. As we take in art as entertainment, we take in its messages constantly and the content of art’s messages may influence us.” I stand by that interpretation. My argument really only acknowledges the validity of the most basic foundation of Wertham’s position. Beyond that, his testimony has lost whatever credibility it may have clung to over the years.

Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture's Modern Myths

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Cheers!

Today, Flava’s Street Team goes into action, hitting the streets, pounding the pavement, and what not. It’s still a team if there’s just one, right? Whatever.

Today is also FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, and I couldn’t think of a better time to do some D.I.Y.-style promotions for my own work surrounding comics (and the 90s poetry stuff, despite being completely unrelated). So, I’ve done up some posters with QR codes to post around St. John’s on this beautiful wet and foggy day! The way it works is simple; whip out your smartphone, scan the QR code, and – BOOM! – you’ll be taken by the magic of technology right to the Kindle website where you can purchase either Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths for just $3.99 or Fawning, Fear and Frustration: A Collection of Teenage Poetry for just $0.99!

Keep an eye out around town for these posters:

Superheroes Poster

Fawning Poster with QR Code

And, hey, if you happen to feel like helping out the Flava Street Team, go ahead and print off some posters to place around wherever you may be. Leave me a comment if you do, and you’ll have my infinite (and intangible) thanks!

See you at the comic shop!

This is it!  My first eBook, Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths, is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store!

How exactly do we read imagery in comics?

What do you really know about Superman’s origins and his role in the World War II propaganda campaign?

Would you ever compare Batman to a real-world carpet manufacturer?

Have you ever asked yourself what makes superheroes so special?

Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths goes beyond the typical fanboy fantasies to provide a rigorous, multifaceted examination of how superheroes and comic books have influenced North American culture.  As an extension of ideas presented by Friedrich Nietzsche, Joseph Campbell, and Umberto Eco, this dissertation argues that superhero tales must be regarded as modern mythology, similar to how people think about the heroic tales of Hercules, Odysseus or Gilgamesh.

My aim with this dissertation was not only to engage with philosophy and literary theory but to apply the theory to a fun and interesting subject matter, namely superheroes.  If you’re reading it from a scholarly perspective, perhaps it will broaden your view of language and the role comics play in communication.  If you’re reading this as a fan of superheroes and comics, then the dissertation may lead you to a fuller appreciation of the subtleties that many fans overlook.  So, while the dissertation proceeds with the rigor of an academic interrogation, applying those scholarly concepts to superhero narratives allows for a greater degree of potential insight.

Visit my Author’s Page to see a teaser trailer for Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths by following this link.

Get your copy now in the Amazon Kindle Store!  Remember, you can sample the Introduction for FREE!

Download your copy now! Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths