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Thursday, November 01, 2018 

Two papers don't make a satisfying case about Wertham and censorship

I found two papers - one daily and another college-based - that didn't do a very good job discussing the continuing harm to comics first wrought in the era of Fredric Wertham. One is the Sentinel Tribune of Bowling Green, Ohio, which does at least admit something accurate:
As part of Banned Books Week, the Bowling Green State University’s Jerome Library presented “Seduction of the Innocent: The anti-comic books crusade of the 1950s and beyond.”

The Jerome Library Pallister Conference Room was filled with more than 60 people for the Thursday afternoon presentation given by Charles Coletta, Ph.D, a BGSU popular culture professor.

“Comics are still being censored and challenged,” Coletta said. “We’re talking about one of the most infamous movements in comic book history.”

He pointed out that today, a lot of people are anti-Sponge Bob, as well as being against many other comic characters, including The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy. He showed other examples during his PowerPoint presentation that did not include superheroes.
This is true, it's still going on, and extending to cartoons along with the comics. But what good does it do to say that if they won't specify in just what ways comics are still falling victim to censorship? Like the recent embarrassments where social justice advocating artists and writers go out of their way to censor women's breasts and butts, and even cover them up? The article doesn't tell whether this was raised at the conference, and if it wasn't, it suggests the universities and their contributors aren't as dedicated to opposing censorship as previously thought. The article does tell something interesting about Wertham's targets:
Dr. Fredric Wertham stepped in with a personal crusade to ban comic books, after testifying in a case against the Natural Herald, a nudist magazine.
The irony is that here we are today, and nudity, depending on the situation, is still being censored for all the wrong reasons too.
“Wertham really did destroy a lot of people’s lives,” Coletta said, in reference to careers that were ended.
Yes, but now you have liberals in comicdom trying to destroy conservatives' careers by blacklisting and worse. It's particularly noticeable at Marvel, where Joe Quesada's had Chuck Dixon blacklisted for more than 15 years, and even DC seems to have thrown him under the bus entirely. At the end, it states:
The defense rund reports that the American Library Association tracked 416 books which were challenged by would-be censors in 2017.

“You have to be vigilant,” Coletta said. “Things can go too far.”
Would this happen to include blacklisting of books by, well, anybody who dares challenge an oligarchy while calling for better story merit? For example, Richard Meyer, who's been largely blacklisted, due in part to the machinations of Mark Waid? And regarding censorship, does it include concern for books involving sexy imagery, and even conservative viewpoints?

The second and more recent is The Penn from Indiana's university, which says the following about Wertham's beliefs while covering a lecture about censorship:
He specifically worried about the effects it would have on the sexuality of youth, stating that Batman and Robin were gay partners and that Wonder Woman was a lesbian.
You know what's ironic? Today, a lot of leftist writers shove homosexuality down everyone's throats deliberately, and are almost hell-bent on removing any that could support heterosexuality, as could be seen when Marvel became more censorious and deleterious a few years ago. Though there is one matter this paper does make a worthy point about:
Pagnucci said that the code presented issues for multiple publishers, citing an EC story from 1953 titled “Judgment Day,” by Al Feldstein and Joe Orlando, a space story that dealt with racial prejudice and featured the reveal of the story’s astronaut as a black man.

The code took issue with a 1955 reprint of the story and told EC that the astronaut couldn’t be black.

“This was a story about race issues, and the astronaut couldn’t be black?” said Pagnucci. “It was just ridiculous.”

EC eventually published the story as intended after threatening to reveal the racial insensitivity of the code, Pagnucci said. He said that the first break in the code came from Marvel when they published three issues of “The Amazing Spider-Man” by Stan Lee and Gil Kane dealing with drug abuse without code approval on the cover.

Pagnucci said that while this might’ve had some effect, the primary thing that caused the end of the code was market force.

“The audience was getting older,” he said.
Well they did get something accurate: whoever agreed with the code's implementation out of concern over racism was so insane they couldn't understand that omitting all black characters no matter what side of the law they stood on, and no matter what the story's angle, was racist. But as for the audience becoming older, that's become a problem today - too many adults and no interest in marketing the same books to younger audiences, presumably because they don't think the subject matter is suitable? Actually, whatever today's content, the stories aren't even bothering to offer many stories about drug trafficking/addiction and why it's wrong, if at all. And they're only worried about prejudice perpetrated by whites, and conservatives. And the following is pretty fishy:
Pagnucci said that “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons came out and changed the market.

It skewed far older and treated superheroes seriously.

“[‘Watchmen’] confronts fanboy conventions,” Pagnucci said. “It pokes fun at the exploitative superheroine costumes.”

It also dealt with politics and the effect that superheroes would have in the real world, said Pagnucci.
Now let me get this straight. They're worried about censorship, yet they consider "fanboyism" a problem based on the allegation superheroine costumes are "exploitative"? By that logic, Wonder Woman and Black Canary's costumes were an offense, and so is Scarlet Witch's and She-Hulk's outfits. And here I thought this was an argument about censorship! Honestly, the views in this college paper's questionable piece are pretty skewed if that's what they're insinuating. I also don't see why a story where Silk Spectre being raped by Comedian should be seen as "poking fun" if it's a serious story. If anything, the subject matter seen in Watchmen is why it's hardly a laughing matter. Not even the bizarre codename given to Edward Blake.
He said that people might not think censorship is a problem today, but that comics are still consistently challenged when included in libraries.

“Watchmen,” despite being held in high regard, is often challenged by parents when it’s put in high school libraries.
It occurred to me that a guy who implies "fanboy conventions" are more perversion than escapism wouldn't have the same issues if the comics in question included Carol Danvers in her classic Ms. Marvel outfits, and more feminine character design. Now I do think a comic like Watchmen certainly doesn't belong in a library for younger children, and I suppose a high schooler's by contrast would be suitable enough, but still, I do think it's peculiar such a downbeat story is the subject of concern here, and not something more challenging along the lines of escapism-themed adventures, seeing how they're the real victims at this point.
The issue of censorship just recently came up with the release of “Batman: Damned #1,” by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, which featured two panels illustrating Batman’s penis.

“Damned,” which was published under DC’s new “Black Label” imprint for mature readers, caused some controversy, so DC blacked out the image digitally and said that all future printings will use the edited version. DC co-publisher Dan Didio, in an interview with Polygon, said that the inclusion was a “production error.”

“This clearly isn’t true, and there’s no way they didn’t know it was there,” Pagnucci said.

This then led to backlash going the opposite way for removing the image.

“They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t,” Pagnucci said.
Be that as it may, I've got a strange feeling DiDio and his cronies were actually delighted at all the attention they got, for the sake of boosting sales regardless. And how come they stuck solid with the direction Identity Crisis was used to establish for nearly a dozen years after before finally dropping it? (Unfortunately, as Heroes in Crisis confirms, they're still sticking with some of the themes.) I vaguely remember a report in the early 2000s how an Elektra comic was said to contain nudity, supposedly against the wishes of Marvel's editors, and that a portion of copies were thrown out. It's so long ago, and I can't be sure what the exact details were, but I've got a hunch it was no accident either.
“Comic books matter,” said Pagnucci. “What makes superhero stories most important are their effects on people.”
Yes, but do all of them matter? Namely, even the independent ones produced by possible right-wingers through crowdfunding? And what kind of content they have? Because again, if they're going to confuse "fanboy conventions" and imply drawing a lady sexy is bad, they're throughly missing the boat.

These articles give such insufficient or fishy data, you have to wonder if the lecturers themselves are really dedicated to the causes at all.

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I am surprised you are so enthusiastic about Chuck Dixon. He was not the first writer to replace established male characters with female versions - Stan Lee and Gardner Fox did that decades before he began doing it - but he was the first to replace white male characters wholesale with versions who differed in race and ethnicity. He seems like the antithesis and nightmare of the entire Comicsgate assemblage!

Wertham apparently had something against the concept of "context", not to mention a laser-focused work ethic to condemn comics as the sole cause of criminal behavior in his generation of youths, ignoring all other possible causes.

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