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The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America Audio CD – Audiobook, CD
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Top Customer Reviews
David Hajdu's wonderful The Ten-Cent Plague is a history of the culture war over comics that spanned the decade after the second world war. By the mid-40s, he claims, comic books were beyond doubt the leading form of popular entertainment, selling an astounding 80 to 100 million copies each week. Some 650 titles were released each month, and the industry employed around 1,000 writers, artists, and editors. The leading comic book publisher was EC, headed by the genius William Gaines.
The genre in those days, lead by EC, focused primarily on horror and crime, and some of the covers, interior artwork, and story lines could get gruesome: pools of blood, severed heads, stony-faced and scary killers. The artwork and storylines could get sexy too: heroines in filmy negligees, the occasional cleavage or bare foot showing. Middle class parents, egged on by a few religious leaders and political conservatives, began to express concerns, and those concerns grew into a national crusade against the "corrupting" influence of comic books. Editorials raged against them, politicians speechified against them, the Senate held hearings, and schools and churches sponsored comic book bonfires.
In an effort to salvage what it could, the comic book industry organized the Comics Magazine Association of America in 1954, and promised to watchdog its product by promoting "wholesomeness and virtue" (p. 319).Read more ›
David Hajdu's The Ten Cent Plague details one such situation that occurred in the early 1950s and focused on comic books. This was an era when comics were at a creative and commercial peak, dealing with not only the superhero genre, but also horror, crime, war and romance. While some of it was over-the-top, it also provided entertainment and occasionally delivered a message as well.
The main villain in this piece is Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, a book that alleged links between comic books and juvenile delinquency, links that were often weak at best, and completely fabricated in other cases. In this Legion of Doom, however, Wertham is merely the biggest name, but there are others as well, driven to hound the comic book industry out of existence. They would use book-burnings, boycotts and the police to get their way, and to a large extent, they would win. Due to their efforts, the Comics Code was instituted, resulting in comics that went from being fun (if edgy) to watered-down pap fit for only the youngest kids. It was like replacing Bugs Bunny and Homer Simpson with Baby Huey and the Care Bears.Read more ›
In the growing literature about Americans' love affair with comic books, Hajdu has staked a major cultural landmark with his new, "The 10-Cent Plague." As a journalist myself for more than 30 years, I've closely watched the ebb and flow of American comics and graphic novels. I can tell you this: Hajdu's cultural history is so fresh and so solid that, henceforth, anyone interested in understanding the strange twists and turns of our post-World War II culture will have to include his history of comic hysteria on any "must-read" list.
If you haven't heard Hajdu on NPR or read any of the growing number of magazine and newspaper articles about his book, the use of the term "hysteria" may sound - well, "Insane." But the tragic truth is that, starting in the late 1940s only three years after the defeat of the Nazis in Europe, Americans in towns across our nation felt it was their sacred duty to build comic book-burning bonfires, encouraging and sometimes compelling students to stand up for virtue at these conflagrations. Hajdu points out that this showed a terrifying blindness to world history - eerily reminiscent of the zealous book burnings in Germany in the 1930s.
A few wise American observers in that era recognized this historical irony - but, as shocking as this sounds, Hajdu documents that the mainstream of American media amounted to a frenzied mob in some Grade-B horror film.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had to read this for an art history class. I was excited about it at first, but that quickly faded. This book is way too "wordy" for my taste. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Linette
A great book about an often forgotten or overlooked part of American history.Published 7 months ago by Polybius
I was required to read this book for a class I was taking on the history of comics. This book is VERY informative, going through just about the entire history of the comic... Read morePublished 11 months ago by R. Knepp
It's interesting to read the in-depth version of history on comic book progression towards society.Published 12 months ago by Rosa
Only got it for school, very dry interesting material difficult readPublished 12 months ago by James Hobson
To say that the events of the "Comic Book Panic" Hajdu covers in such depth here are "little known" is an understatement. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Trey
outstanding book on the witch hunt of the comic book industry in the 1950sPublished 16 months ago by SilentOne
You have to be REALLY and I mean REALLY into comics or the history of it. I had to get this for school and honestly it was painful having to read it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by BMJ
An incredibly comprehensive overview of the history of pre-code era and the different factors that led to the untimely demise of the horror and crime comics genre. Read morePublished 17 months ago by thetotalbrasky