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kids burning comics
Parents and kids burning comics in the 1950s

Thanks to the “research” of Dr. Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist, who wrote Seduction of the Innocent, there was a significant, shared belief that comic books were rotting the brains of America’s youth in the 1950s. Sex, violence, and other adult themes portrayed in comics was leading Johnny B. Goode to a life of crime, so said the good doctor, and because a doctor said it – parents believed it.

Parents in droves had their children burn their comics in order to vanquish the evil that perminated their households. Shortly thereafter the Comics Code Authority was formed to ensure that comic books were decent once again. Censorship ruled and good storytelling suffered – it was a sad time to be a comic book fan.

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Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Tim Burton on the set of Batman

Fast-forward to 1989, the year Tim Burton’s Batman was released, the comic book industry was in the midst of a gradual upswing that had been going on since 1984. Comics were cool again and money (lots and lots of money) could be made from selling them. Then, in the mid 90s, the comic book crash occurred due to the publishers flooding the market with more than what the true believers could support.

As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was too young to understand “the comic book bubble” all I knew was that comics were cool – no matter what my mom said.  I can’t tell you how many times my mom, a Nancy Reagan type, said comics would “rot my brain.” Maybe when my mom was growing up, her parents (who were old enough to be influenced by Dr. Wertham) passed down their bias about comics to her. Whatever the reason, comics were viewed by conservative parents of the 80s and 90s as seedy. To me, comics were a way to escape reality, a medium that fostered my imagination, and helped me develop my appreciation of art.

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Dr. Strange drawn by the great Jack Kirby

ROTTING BRAINS is a tongue-in-cheek name that I gave this blog, which is dedicated to the review and discussion of comics – my true love.

Currently building a time machine so I can have more time to consume comics, movies, and all things cool. Follow my ramblings at https://creators.co/@dpc and http://www.consumereviewrepeat.com or tweet me @RottingBrainz

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