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. 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.
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Tags: Alex Raymond, art, Association of Comic Magazine Publishers, Bob Bernstein, Bob Wood, Boy Comics, Charles Biro, classism, Comic House, Comics Art, comics code, Crime Does Not Pay, crime suspense stories, Crimebuster, Daredevil, EC Comics, education, educational comics, Frederic Wertham, Fredric Wertham, Henry E. Schultz, horror, Jim Crow laws, juvenile delinquency, law enforcement, Lev Gleason, Little Wise Guys, marketing, Milton Caniff, morals, National Cartoonists Society, National Comics Publication, New York City Board of Education, pre-code, romance comics, sexual imagery, social criticism, social reform, Tony DiPreta, USA, violence
By Whitney Hunt
New Racism Ideology In the USA
Whiteness is an enduring construct of privilege and power that systematically shapes and maintains racial inequality, resulting in a hierarchal system of oppression toward people of color (Feagin & Elias 2013). Systematic racism requires generations of people reproducing racist institutions and the white racial framings that support them (Feagin 2013). According to Feagin (2013), the white racial frame is a broad concept encompassing racist practices, imagery and discourse throughout US society shaped by and for the primary benefit of individuals considered white by society. In all eras of American history, manifestations of racism contain the ideological underpinning that justifies racial inequality. Moreover, the societal grip of white racial framing underscores the gross reality that America’s racist foundations are regularly unacknowledged (Feagin 2014; Bonilla-Silva 2017).
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Tags: adaptation, Black Panther, blackness, Captain Marvel, Colorblindness, DC, fandom, film, Jim Crow laws, Marvel, New racism, origin story, Race/ethnicity, racism, superheroes, USA, White racial frame, whiteness, Women