Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'm just finishing my comics chapter, and thought I'd post a few useful links for anyone interested in the history of comics:

1. The Museum of Black Superheroes

There is a whole bunch of good stuff here, including articles (some academic) and an historical gallery.

2. Full text of Fredric Wertham's (1954) Seduction of the Innocent.

The publication of this text was a turning point in comics history. Reacting to a surge in explicit subject matter (mostly in horror and crime comics), Wertham attacked the comics medium for what he perceived to be its corrupting influence on young people. A central premise of Wertham's argument was that comics "expos[ed] children's minds to an endless stream of prejudice-producing images." His subsequent critique of racist and sexist imagery is an important precursor to contemporary work on comics. He highlighted the way racial 'Others' were presented as antisocial and subhuman characters: "as criminals, gangsters, rapers, suitable victims for slaughter by either the lawless or the law." Superhero comics were singled out in this regard:

"on the one hand is the tall, blond, regular-featured man sometimes disguised as a superman (or superman disguised as a man) and the pretty young blonde girl... On the other hand are the inferior people: natives, primitives, savages, "ape men," Negroes, Jews, Indians, Italians, Slavs, Chinese and Japanese, immigrants of every description, people with irregular features, swarthy skins, physical deformities [or] Oriental features."

Seduction caused a storm of controversy, and resulted in Congressional hearings on the links between comics and "juvenile delinquency." Wertham changed the social climate for comics, and in doing so he necessitated a drastic change in content. In order to avoid external legislation, the comics industry introduced a self imposed set of regulations known as the Comics Code.

3. Full text of The Comics Code

All comics were to abide by the Code and display its stamp on their cover - without this, they were unlikely to be stocked by retailers. The regulations are very interesting to read through. Especially considering contemporary issues involving censorship and the internet. The Code was changed in 1971, acknowledging the logic that one must be able to show the evils of the adult world in order to condemn them.

4. The Moore Collection of Underground Comix

During the 1960s, the deliberately inflammatory underground Comix movement emerged in America and Britain in direct opposition to the Code's restrictions: including titles such as Gay, Middle Class Fantasies, Black Laughter, Cocaine Comix and Abortion Eve. This is a pretty good collection of titles, although they are not to everyone's taste.

I have found all of these links really useful.

Have you heard of Motion Comics? They are the new thing.

Very pretty, although I'm not totally sold on the difference between this and regular animation.

Back to work...

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