An untimely death comes to a young man with artistic ability and a greedy roommate. Murdered, and dumped into a tub of acid where no evidence can be found so that his lifes work can be stolen. Crimes like these were a common theme in 1950s comics, such as The Vault of Horror. After the war comics of heroics were no longer necessary and more gruesome tales were being told, targeting the biggest market for comics…teens.

Murder, death, and deceit. These are the messages being portrayed to the youth or America as leisurely reads? How atrocious! Superman was nowhere to save the day. But Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were around, committing vial crimes in the middle of the night. 

The comics of the 1950s took a lot of heat for their dark and twisted nature. Teens were quickly hooked and latched on to reading these books leaving parents in fear of how this would influence their children. Newspapers were in a friendzie telling parents to monitor their children and keep them away from these atrocities at all costs. But the teens kept reading. Either hooked on the stories themselves, or just trying to get their parents shaking in their bones, they kept reading.

Frederic Wertham wrote a book entitled Seduction of Innocent highlighting his views on how these comics were the cause of all youth problems and rebellion of the time. A view shared by many parents. He believed that these comics were even the cause of defected mental growth in teens. Horror comics were being put to blame for dyslexia and ADD. They were being blamed for influencing teens to disrespect their elders, and act disorderly.

By 1955, 13 states had been passed to regulate comic books and hide some of the vulgarity and violence from influencing the young minds. Comic book bannings were rampant across the country, along with the hosting of government hearings and even radical comic burnings by aggressive parents. They believed the content was turning their childrens brains to a violent mush that caused them to be illiterate delinquents who were being desensitized to absurdities such as homosexuality. That just couldn’t be!


Almost as quickly as the horror comics took to rise, they collapsed though. As televisions became more accessible, teens became less interested in rebelling against their parents by reading a good horror story. Instead, they wanted to sit in front of a screen for hours. At the time, this may have seemed like a blessing, but the dangers of new technologies on the mind of young adults was quickly learned.

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Lopes, Paul. “Strategies of Rebellion in the Heroic Age of the American Comic Book.” The Journal Of Arts In Society 2, no. 2 (2007): 127-34. Accessed April 12, 2015.

“Policing Obscene Comics.” New York Times, April 21, 1954. Accessed April 12, 2015.

Pierce Lancor

Posted: 4/13/2015

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