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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 of the 1950s that wrote Seduction of the Innocent, there was a significant, shared belief that comic books were rotting the brains of America’s youth. Dr. Wertham said that sex, violence, and other adult themes portrayed in comics was leading Johnny B. Goode to a life of crime. And since a doctor said it – parents believed it.

In a knee-jerk reaction to Dr. Wertham’s teachings, parents had their children burn their comics in order to vanquish the evil that permitted their households. We can also thank Dr. Wertham for ushering in the Comics Code Authority, which was formed to ensure that comic books were decent once again. It was a time when censorship ruled and good storytelling suffered. In short, it was a difficult 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 that Tim Burton’s Batman was released. It was around this time that the comic book industry was making a gradual upswing. Comics were cool again and money (lots and lots of money) was being made from selling them. Then, in the mid 1990s, the comic book crash occurred because publishers were flooding the market with more than what the true believers could support. If you can believe it, Marvel Comics even filed for bankruptcy. 

As a kid growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, I was too young to understand “the comic book bubble.” All I knew was that comics were cool – no matter what my parents said.  I can’t tell you how many times I was told that comics would “rot my brain.” For whatever reason, comics were viewed by conservative parents as seedy. To me, comics were a way to escape reality, a medium that fostered my imagination, and fostered 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 my blog, which is dedicated to the review and discussion of comics – my true love.

I’m currently building a time machine so I can have more time to consume comics, movies, and all things cool. Follow my ramblings at www.consumereviewrepeat.com or tweet me @RottingBrainz

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