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Friday, October 18, 2019 

Unlike today's industry representatives, Stan Lee protested Fredric Wertham's positions

I hadn't noticed this earlier, but CBR published an interesting history item almost a year ago about how Stan Lee for one reacted to Fredric Wertham's anti-comics positions in the 1950s, even as his own company, then still called Timely or Atlas, was among several which complied with the demands of the Senate hearing that took place in the wake of Wertham's now discredited Seduction of the Innocent book:
Throughout his life, Stan Lee was a vocal proponent of the Freedom of Speech and as it turned out, he had a very prominent opponent on that topic during the late 1940s and early 1950s in the person of Fredric Wertham, the infamous psychiatrist behind The Seduction of the Innocent. Rather than taking Wertham's attacks on comics quietly, Lee did a number of awesome protests in the pages of Marvel Comics (then called either Timely Comics or Atlas Comics) from editorials to comic book spoofs of Wertham. [...]

Over the course of late 1948 and throughout 1949, Stan Lee responded to the increasing popularity of Wertham's views about comic books in a series of editorials in every comic released by Marvel Comics (whatever the company was being called back then) at the time.
It's a fascinating history piece, but what's really sad is that, if you consider Lee's refusal to criticize Marvel's conduct in the years after he retired his position there, that's why it's hard to say he kept up his anti-censorship positions, since he never protested Joe Quesada's early examples like banning smoking when he took over as EIC in the early 2000s, among other "moral" positions that were hypocritical at worst, like Peter Parker "never having sex" with Gwen Stacy, even as the latter is inexplicably depicted having it with Norman Osborn. That's one of the most shameless double-standards Quesada ever concocted, one Spider-Man may never have recovered from.

And what do today's contributors to comicdom think of Lee's anti-censorship positions, no matter how he conveyed them? I have no doubt few on the left in the medium show any genuine appreciation for the late veteran's efforts, seeing how badly they've all mangled his creations long before he passed on. That's the biggest oxymoron - selectively or not, they actually agreed with Wertham all along, at the expense of medium they're working in.

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Having read through Seduction Of The Innocent (yes I had the guts to do it and posted a chapter by chapter analysis of the book on my site) the only thing the modern comic makers and Wertham have in common is a seeming hatred of superhero comics. Wertham did note the racist depictions of the time were bad, but didn't want to see women doing "man stuff" like Sheena or even Wonder Woman, claimed Superman was pro-Nazi (okay, maybe two things in common), and while the anti-gay portions are surprisingly small given all the "press" that's been given it in the comic community it was still there.

Stan Lee did criticize Marvel Comics after he left, particularly in the 1990s. He thought the storytelling on some of the books then was atrocious, full of pointless pinup-type pages in the middle of the stories (they call them jerk shots in the industry)and he thought some of the Max books, like Nick Fury, went too far in terms of graphic violence. Whatever you think of Marvel now, it is not nearly as awful and unreadable as it got then.

Bear in mind that he lost much of his eyesight late in life; it is not like he was reading the books.

I would not expect today's writers and artists to criticize Wertham; he died decades ago and his book is only of historical interest.

Do you think there is a difference between editorial and publisher decisions about what to publish, and censorship by industry or government bodies? You can disagree with Quesada, but it is not really a case of censorship.

"I would not expect today's writers and artists to criticize Wertham; he died decades ago and his book is only of historical interest.

They won't criticize him because they liked his approach to comics. They liked his form of gate-keeping. They have no problem going after problematic figures in comics no matter how old they are-- howard crumb or steve ditko are lambasted by auters and critics on because they don't fit current progressive ideals. gtfo with that bullshit "his book is only of historical interest." they guy is a model for activism in publishing. He finds something he doesn't like,turns it into a moral panic, and gets people to lose their jobs and their work banned over "intentions".
Yes, I know, non-liberals do it too, but it's good when progressives do it.

It makes no sense for today's progressive creators, yes, they are all progressives, to criticize a man, whose tactics they use to keep the industry into a club for fellow progressives.

" now, it is not nearly as awful and unreadable as it got then."
that's an academic, intersectional opinion.

the circulation numbers and sales, and probably salaries of creators, reflected that there was a larger audience for what you consider "unreadable"
than the stuff we have now, which is largely geared towards the academia.

in 1998, in 2000 , comics were populist--which means, they reflected what readers wanted to read to a large degree.

today, a lot fewer people read comics and they reflect what the Intellgensia thinks people should be reading. We SHOULD be reading crudely made comics made by marginalized people about mental illness.

tyranny of the majority or rule by a self-appointed minority that claims to know what is best for everyone. take your pick.

p.s. garth ennis was only brought to marvel bc marvel needed to repackage stuff like FURY so it could catch the interest of a movie producer. if marvel didn't bring creators like him in the early 2000s, there would be no MCU to speak of.

can you imagine Cathy G. Johnson being tasked to make Mahhvel comics that would attract the attention of movie producers? (I know, this is happening now--they think all (peer-reviewed, award-winning) comics creators have the potential to turn into profitable movies)Would a gay captain america and iron man done as well on the movie screen back in 2012? would a butch non-binary black widow rake in billions now? will people sit down and watch anything if they are properly "Educated" (subject to marketing enough times?)

Marvel is just now releasing a ton of new X-themed comic books. Somehow I don't think that is what the intelligentsia thinks we should be reading.

The sales in the 1990s were non-returnable sales to comic book shops, not readers. The comic book shops were stuck with tons of awful unreadable product that you can find in the bargain bins for 50 cents now, or in six for a dollar bargain bags. Many of the buyers were people who thought of them as investment, not something to read - and then the speculation market crashed.

Steve Ditko is treated as a god by auteurs and critics, and even the worst of his work is reprinted with reverence, at least up to what he did in the 1980s; the quality of his commercial work really declined in his old age. He does not grab a mass audience - his work is quirky and sales of Spider-Man did not really take off until Romita started drawing it - but the auteurs like him. The Dr Strange movie was an attempt to bring his visuals to life. He has a lot of fans who disagree with but ignore his Randian diatribes, which were often rambling and confused. And bear in mind that Stan Lee as writer and editor tried to temper Ditko's political viewpoints and negativism about romance and humanity back in the 1960s; that is not something suddenly imposed by moderns. the clash and synergy of their viewpoints made for better comics than anything he did on his own.

Robert Crumb is treated the same way now as always. He pisses off some people now with his misogyny and old man narcissism; but that was true in the 70s too. Just ask Trina Robbins. He is revered by others, and every napkin drawing he does is printed up. Howard Cruse is a pioneer of gay-themed comics, and Stuck Rubber Baby is considered a classic by most auteurs and critics.

Wertham crusaded against comics by blaming them for juvenile delinquency, leading to mass comic book burnings and hysteria. That is not the same thing as not wanting to hire Chuck Dixon for plum assignments because he is too old and insists on making villains of environmentalists and liberal media people.

Controversy and strong opinions are not censorship. They are the opposite of censorship.

This statement is oblivious to differences in opinions between generations and whose criticism is listened to more. Some people's opinions are clearly more more important than others, among auters and critics.

The loudest critics, the critics whose critics is listened to more are younger female are far less forgiving of personal flaws in creators. They are the ones advocating that creators can banned because of of perceived slights.

It's not the same now because the critics are all hardcore sjws, by and large.
The older critics are not being listened to anymore.
In the future, I guarantee you, Howard Crumb will never ever be mentioned.

The only reason why they aren't going after Frank Miller is because Frank is making concessions towards them like coming out as anti-Trump and describing his latest product as "feminist". For years, I saw them trying to smear him as a misogynist.

Controversy and strong opinions in a comics market dominated by liberal librarians can lead to censorship if academic professionals refuse to order a comic a critic they respect has called out as misogynist.

If Controversy and strong opinions are not censorship than why are there always cries for censorhip and firing coming from the most influential critics and auters?


I know whay. It's because you're a lying piece of sh1t.

"insists on making villains of environmentalists and liberal media people."
i don't see how environmentalists and "liberal media people" can't be villains.
there is no group that doesn't produce bad apples.

Sounds like you're more interested in reinforcing a worldview than promoting a balance of viewpoints.

"Steve Ditko is treated as a god by auteurs and critics, and even the worst of his work is reprinted with reverence, at least up to what he did in the 1980s; the quality of his commercial work really declined in his old age. He does not grab a mass audience - his work is quirky and sales of Spider-Man did not really take off until Romita"

since when did comics critics care about commercial appeal?
By that measurement, the vast majority of stuff they love are failures.

I don't understand why the comparison to Romita was made. Bizarre.

When you're responding to someone, try not to ramble and fill your response with irrelevant information.

Actually, Howard Crumb has never been mentioned before today and probably never will be again.

There are generational changes in taste. But the critics being listened to most are young and female? i would be curious to know which critics you are thinking of, Mike. Certainly not the post from bleeding cool that you link to in the comment above. That post was written by a male critic, and it doesn't call for censorship or firing. It just expresses regret that Chaykin's book went to a second printing.

Maybe Miller really is anti Trump? Like say three-fifths of the American population?

On Steve Ditko - an earlier commentator wrote that "They have no problem going after problematic figures in comics no matter how old they are-- howard crumb or steve ditko are lambasted by auters and critics on because they don't fit current progressive ideals." The point is that Ditko is loved by the critics and auteurs more than he is by the General public. It wouldn't seem bizarre if you paid attention to what you are reading. Maybe if you stopped rambling on about that librarian fetish? Just a suggestion.

Glass is upset a that they did not listen to progressives on the internet demanding that the comic series stop being published. The creator whose Tweet is featured in the article is an auter and critic Tamra Bonvillain who said if the editors did their job, the problematic material should have never been published.

" We know certain publishers don't edit stories, but they accepted them for publication. Why? Because the people targeted don't matter enough.

— Tamra Bonvillain (@TBonvillain) June 11, 2017"

You really must work in the industry. The lengths you are going through to deny that there are no calls from critics and auters for censorship, or firing based on perceived slights, in the American comics industry, is bewildering.

"Hey @TomBrevoort, you’re the editor in Captain America. Can you explain why you’ve got the racist and transphobic Howard Chaykin working on the title in May?"

“I believe Chaykin means for it to be incendiary and cutting — he’s using it to provoke and incite conversation. However, he’s so far removed from the people he’s depicting that he has no idea whether he’s being provocative or just plain hurtful. He’d need to listen in order to understand, and he doesn’t seem ready to do that.”


this is what is said when Chaykin suggests that some people are overreacting to his work.

"Now, I honestly feel I can say that I consider Chaykin to be the most repugnant, vile, garbage fire wearing a human meat suit, and I pray I never have to meet such an odious and deplorable creature as him in the flesh ever in my existence. I have met enough people like that. I have been victim to enough people like that. I do not need another.

Glass and other progressives were not expecting Chaykin and Image to stand by his work but to apologize and retract it. THAT is what makes all their complaining calls for censorship and firings and boycotts.


they want an environment where "If you speak up, if you speak out in the wrong tone at the wrong person, that’s it. That’s your career."

They accuse non-progressives of this but that it is very clear that this is the atmosphere they want. I know this is what they want because they are the critics and many of the creators and this is what they are pushing for, everyday.

stop lying.

Tamra Bonvillain is not a critic or an auteur. She is a colorist. Comics, not hair.

If you are indignant over consumers who complain about and avoid or boycott those comics that don’t adhere to their cultural views, are you ever on the wrong blog!

It doesn't matter if she not a officially a critic or a high-profile auter. She is a "marginalized" voice in comics and has many friends in the industry.that makes her a critic JUST as much as the people who write for the various comic book news sites and they all tend to hold identical views. if she says something on her twitter feed, it will get retweeted and other industry professionals or will weigh in--on her side and will try to use shame or slander to get material they don't like banned or censored.

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