History of Comic Books of the 1950s (Mania.com)

By:Sharon L. Cohen
Date: -
Source: history of comic books

Overview

The comic book was very popular during World War II because of its pro-American themes. However, as the troops came home and society changed, the comics also had to develop new themes and approaches. Many of the graphics of the crime and horror comics that began to hit the newsstands upset parents and critics. It did not take the government long in becoming involved with this controversy.

Juvenile Delinquency

Fredric Wertham wrote a book called "Seduction of the Innocent" in 1954, which argued that the comics featuring crimes and horror stories were causing an increase in juvenile delinquency. In this same year, the U.S. Senate asked Dr. Wertham and representatives of the comic book industry to testify in front of the Sub-committee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.

Comic Book Code

The investigation did not lead to any immediate laws being passed. However, the comic book companies realized that they better take action before the government did decide to go further. The larger publishers established the Comics Code Authority that set very stringent requirements about the contents and themes of comic books.

Super Heroes

The superheroes were no longer very heroic in the 1950s. In fact, many of these comic books were no longer being printed, and the whole super hero genre was getting close to going extinct. However, DC Comics had a brainstorm that revitalized the industry. They decided to beef up the lesser known characters, such as "Green Lantern" and "Flash," which once again made superheroes popular.

TV Characters

In the 1950s, people all over the United States were buying their first television sets. Many of the comic book publishers started new series with the same TV characters. These included westerns like "Bat Masterson," "Gunsmoke" and "Have Gun Will Travel"; family shows such as "Family Affair," "I Love Lucy," and "Danny Thomas Show," and comedies like "Bewitched," "Beverly Hillbillies" and "F-Troop."

Horror

Although the very graphic horror comic books were no longer being published, there were still many other ones that became popular. "Strange Tales" and "Tales to Astonish" combined horror and science fiction. They had strange-looking monsters with unusual names, such as Fin Fang Foom and Zzutak, who landed on earth in huge spaceships.


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