At Issue

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

In 1886 Yellow Kid became the first comic strip to appear in a newspaper. The public gave it that name when the newspaper, World, tested its new yellow ink by printing it on the image of the Kid’s clothing in the comic strip. Comic books soon developed from comic strips. The first collection of strips was published in 1897 in a magazine called Yellow Kid Magazine. In 1933 the first comic book, rather than a collection of newspaper strips, appeared. The boom of comic book publishing began with New Comics, Fun Comics, Popular Comics, and Famous Funnies. More than 150 titles were published in 1940 and more than 200 million copies sold.

In 1948 Time magazine described how several copycat crimes were committed by children who had read crime comics. Crime comics were implicated in influencing juveniles to commit burglary, a hanging, and a murder by poisoning. In the same year Dr. Frederic Wertham, a senior psychiatrist for the New York Department of Hospitals, headed a symposium, The Psychopathology of Comic Books. Wertham concluded that comic books glorified crime and violence, and he found them to be “abnormally sexually aggressive.” Additionally, an ABC radio broadcast, “What’s Wrong with Comics?” was one of the many factors that influenced the formation of citizen’s groups for regulating and in some cases banning of certain comic books from local newsstands. Some public schools joined in and...

(The entire section is 608 words.)