Tag Archives: Comics Art

Lev Gleason Publications and Pre-Code PR:

Countering Critics through Social Reform and Education

by Peter W. Y. Lee

The 1954 Comics Code was intended to protect children by curtailing comic book content that contributed to juvenile delinquency. However, historians have pointed to how overzealous red-baiters wielded the Code to attack the industry as a figurative whipping boy for Cold War anxiety (J. Gilbert, Nyberg, Wright, Hajdu). EC Comics stands out, noted for its “New Trend” of social criticism, horror and crime in severed jugular veins that provoked readers (Whitted). Scholars have pointed to EC’s publisher and editor William Gaines’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee’s hearing on juvenile delinquency as a show trial of sorts, in which Gaines had hoped to counter the criticism levied against his company, but caved in shortly afterwards instead.[1] But Gaines was not the first to defend the industry, nor was EC representative of many publishers flooding the market. By looking at different titles, scholars can gain a greater appreciation of how other creators negotiated the post-war public role of comic books.

This is the first part of a two-part article that looks at publisher Leverett Gleason’s comic books. Gleason’s publishing house, alternatively known as Comic House or Lev Gleason Publications, used various means to elevate comic books in the public eye. This part examines how Gleason and his gung-ho editor, Charles Biro, predated EC’s touting the educational merits of crime suspense stories and the medium’s potential as an art form. Gleason tried to pass off his crime-centred titles as progressive and artistic literature, belying the genre’s contemporary and enduring reputation as perpetrators of violence. The second article details Gleason’s tactics to expand the scope of comic books as serious literature by appealing to grown-ups.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on 2020/07/10 in Guest Writers


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Interview With Dirty Rotten Comics

One of the amazing, unique and encouraging things about comics is the sense of community that is fostered across the broad range of readers and writers. It is massively refreshing to see academic readers of comics in open and equal conversation with die-hard fans, writers, artists and even ‘casual readers’. This is a form that brings people together across backgrounds. Dirty Rotten Comics is a small press anthology that seeks to be an outlet for creators of comics who are starting out and brilliant. I spoke to Kirk Campbell and Gary Clap to learn more about Dirty Rotten Comics and Throwaway Press.

HE: Tell me a little bit about you – why comics? How did you get into the publishing world?

GC: We started writing and drawing comics together back at university, with a couple of friends. We were just writing throwaway gag strips for one another, playing around with ideas and seeing who could come up with the most outrageous punchline. We did this for a few years, and over time found that we had enough material to publish. So we threw together some cheap A5 collections and toured the small press comic fairs and conventions that were around at the time. It was all fairly basic stuff but good fun nonetheless, and it was a thrill to have our comics reach a wider audience. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on 2017/03/23 in General, Interviews


Tags: , , ,

The Representation of Music and Musicians in Caricatures and early Comics (1830–1930): Three Case Studies.

Christian A. Bachmann

This article is the first part of a short series that deals with the representation of music and musicians in cartoons and early comics. European magazines such as Charivari (Paris), Punch (London), and Fliegende Blätter (Munich) published caricatures and picture stories about the virtues of music and her practitioners throughout the 19th century and beyond. Preoccupied with making their readers laugh, artists such as Grandville or Wilhelm Busch have often depicted the failing musical aspirant who makes his instrument and his audience churn. The rise of and constant debate about Wagnerian ‘modern music’ spurred the idea of oversized instruments, powered by steam engines that, accordingly, made the very same noise rather than delightful music. With the ascent of Franz Liszt and other virtuoso musicians in the 1830s and 1840s, a new stereotype entered the stage of the satirical magazines. The ideas, characters, motifs, and techniques developed for representing music and musicians were by no means limited to Europe, but also carried over to the United States where they were adapted for an American magazine readership and became part of the ideas and techniques on which the early newspaper comics were based. Unsurprisingly, because artists like Frederick Burr Opper and Frank M. Howarth, both of whom drew pictures stories about musicians, started out with their careers in US-magazines like Puck and Judge, before moving on to work for the newspaper industry around the turn of the century.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on 2016/06/24 in Guest Writers


Tags: , , , ,

Comics Forum 2013 Keynote and Book Launch

Paul Gravett (Image © Peter Stanbury)

Paul Gravett (Image © Peter Stanbury)

Comics Forum is proud to announce that the keynote event for our 2013 conference ‘Small Press and Undergrounds: A Conference on Comics’ will be Paul Gravett in conversation with Roger Sabin. A key figure in British comics, Paul’s career started in 1981 when he launched the Fast Fiction stall at Westminster Comics Mart. The stall was one of the major intersections between the British small press and the European bande dessinée scene. Paul later went on to work for Pssst!, and subsequently launched with Peter Stanbury the important anthology Escape, which again marked up the importance of bande dessinée in its artistic style and approach to comics, as well as including early comics work by noted creators such as Eddie Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Myra Hancock, Rian Hughes, Dave McKean and Carol Swain. Paul has played a major role in the British comic scene ever since, promoting creators and talents, and finding spaces for comics in locations and communities where they might not otherwise have been seen. Paul’s latest book Comics Art is published in November 2013 by Tate. Roger Sabin is a journalist and academic who has written for The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman. He is now Reader in Popular Culture at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. He is the author of Adult Comics: An Introduction, a significant cultural history of comics, and Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art, which takes an international look at the medium of comics. Paul Gravett in conversation with Roger Sabin will take place on Friday afternoon and bring Comics Forum 2013 to a close.

Roger Sabin; photo by Alberto García Marcos - used with permission.

Roger Sabin; photo by Alberto García Marcos – used with permission.

But wait! There’s more!

On the evening of the 21st of November (Comics Forum 2013 day 1), Comics Forum will be partnering with Travelling Man Leeds to present a book launch for Paul Gravett’s Comics Art. The launch will take place at Travelling Man from 1700-1830 and Paul Gravett will give a short introduction to the book. All welcome; see you there!

Comics Art Cover

To find out more about Comics Forum 2013’s full line-up of speakers, and to register for a place at the conference, see

Travelling Man Logo

Comics Forum 2013 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Routledge, Travelling ManDr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 2013/11/01 in Comics Forum 2013, News


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: