Back in the early 1950s, horror and crime comics were largely regarded as morally distasteful, and were thought to be responsible for errant behaviour in youth culture. Many took issue with the subject matter, claiming it was too gruesome and violent for children. The Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency conducted a study that “proved” how horror comics were in part responsible for the misbehaviour of youth during the time (not the post-war environment). As many of you know, the accusations toward the comics industry eventually lead to The Comics Code Authority in 1955 which imposed harsh guidelines on horror comic publisher. After the Code, comics lost a lot of steam. This is something the comics industry never fully recovered from.
While snooping around on YouTube, I came across this “Confidential File” report from 1955, which was supposed to educate parents on the negative effects that horror and crime comics have on children. It’s filled with hilarious reenactments, false interviews, and great one-liners like, “When I was a boy… we never spend an afternoon like this. Reading”. But the sad truth is that many who saw this report took it as fact and it helped to tarnish the reputation of horror comics forever. It not only goes to show the power of the media, but how easily blame can be misdirected.
It’s fascinating to think that video games have undergone similar scrutiny in recent years, though fortunately our society has changed enough to not let it destroy the industry. On another note, it’s bizarre to think that now comics are regarded by the general public as a medium that’s “just for kids”. Take a look at the video and let me know your thoughts.
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