Thursday, April 09, 2009

No chance against Dick

My weeding and re-shelving project has uncovered another gem, Fredric Wertham's 1954 Seduction of the Innocent, a jeremiad about the corrupting influence of comic books:

"Sometimes Batman ends up in bed injured and young Robin is shown sitting next to him. At home they lead an idyllic life. They are Bruce Wayne and "Dick" Grayson. Bruce Wayne is described as a "socialite" and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce's ward. They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. As they sit by the fireplace the young boy sometimes worries about his partner: 'Something's wrong with Bruce. He hasn't been himself these past few days.' It's like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.

. . . In these stories there are practically no decent, attractive, successful women. A typical female character is the Catwoman, who is vicious and uses a whip. The atmosphere is homosexual and anti-feminine. If the girl is good-looking she is undoubtedly the villainess. If she is after Bruce Wayne, she will have no chance against Dick."

In other news, water is wet.

10 comments:

Andrew Karre said...

Wow, that is a gem.

J. L. Bell said...

Wertham’s book has served as the equivalent of a supervillain for comic-book fans since Jules Feiffer resurrected the memory of it in 1965.

Curiously, what the doctor wrote about Batman and Robin undercuts his main thesis in the book—that reading comics deadened children’s sensitivity to the suffering of others.

But of course some kinds of sensitivity were unhealthy!

Anonymous said...

Although I adore clothing and styles from my coming of age in the 1960's, that era's male female stuff has got to go (and is not gone yet :)

Anyway, doesn't the bottom half of Batman's outfit remind you of George Bush's getup in that flight suit during the phony Mission Accomplished speech on a carrier?

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, doesn't the bottom half of Batman's outfit remind you of George Bush's getup in that flight suit during the phony Mission Accomplished speech on a carrier?"

Clooney: Batman: George W. Bush. That's something to discuss with your analyst.

tim b said...

Please tell me you didn't throw this one out. At least e-Bay it... this book has a special place in the history of comics and somebody somewhere would be delighted to get their hands on a copy, if only to ritually burn it.

Allen said...
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Roger Sutton said...

Tim, when I took a look around to see what this copy (first ed, first printing, with jacket) of Wertham might be worth I put it in the Horn Book safe!

The only books I've de-accessioned are some coffee table books from the 70s and many now-dated bibliographies of recommended children's books. In all cases I've kept stuff published by the HB, or written by FHB, or likely to put the HB's children through college.

tim b said...

Ah... so much for my plan of sneaking up to Boston and rooting around in the Dumpsters out back...

Misrule said...

Can I just say, belatedly, that I think this is my favourite post of yours ever!

Roger Sutton said...

Thank you Judith, and I know that pic is now gracing the inside of your locker. ;-)