Doctor Week slips into Day Eight. Today: a doctor I'm sure you all know and love and have waited to see appear in this column since day one.
91. Dr. Fredric Wertham
Let me tell you about a man and a book that changed my life.
Dr. Fredric Wertham (1895-1981) changed the face of comics forever with his little book called Seduction of the Innocent in 1954. And thank God. I know everyone always says it, but Dr. Wertham was the one actually thinking about the children. After all, EC had been publishing some ghastly stuff with beheadings and eye injuries and all sorts of grotesque violence and hidden sexual deviances, and Dr. Wertham was the guy to shed light on the horror that was overtaking American youth. His help arrived not a moment too soon.
Dr. Wertham was a renowned psychologist who had done extensive research on the topic of juvenile deliquency and criminal behavior, and discovered an important fact: all of these social miscreants read comic books at some point in their lives! Clearly, it was this part of mainstream culture which held the most reprehensible influence on the criminal element. Terrible crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC, were slipping in under parents' noses and corrupting their children. Something had to be done. Dr. Wertham was the man to do it.
His book, Seduction of the Innocent, expounded on all these findings. All comics, even superhero ones, glorified crime and violence. Comics art was chock full of hidden female nudity. Batman and Robin and Wonder Woman were totally gay. Hell, Wonder Woman was filled with all sorts of dirty fetishes, like that bondage motif. Dr. Wertham even testified to the United States Senate about his findings, and how comics were causing juvenile deliquency. Parents across the nation banded together in uproar. If they couldn't trust an expert witness and brilliant psychologist, who could they trust?
Clearly, the only recourse was censorship. EC Comics tried to escape some of it by turning publications like MAD into "magazines" instead of "comics," but much of their line was culled. The Comics Code Authority was put in place in order to maintain order and decency in the comics medium. All comics were extensively scrutinized by a panel of judges and anything remotely objectionable-- not just actions or events in the pictures, but also bad words, like "terror,"-- was immediately thrown out. Some claimed this made all comics watered-down pap, but we know the truth: it made comics safe for our children. It certainly reduced the crime rate.
Thank God for Fredric Wertham. Now, some will tell you that he reversed his position later in life and said comics weren't that bad-- but don't believe that. Clearly, his research into the comics world, coupled with what must have been senility, warped his mind in later years. If comics could get to the esteemed Dr. Wertham, by God, what could happen to weaker men and women like us!?
If Dr. Wertham had not stepped in, think of what could have happened to our society. Comics would have run rampant with terror, gore, sex, and horror, masking itself as "diverse content!" Young boys and girls would turn into criminals and deviants instead of upstanding, righetous citizens! Shame on those sick comics people. Didn't they know comics have always been for children!?
Alas, Dr. Wertham died in 1981, basically down the road from me, in Allentown, PA. It was a terrible loss to the world's morality. However, it may be a good thing he did not live to see today's comics industry; it would have destroyed him. The once-mighty Comics Code has been crushed under the bootheel of terror and tyranny, and sickening violence and sex runs rampant in what used to be a children's medium. Deviant adults take pride in what they think is "serious, mature" storytelling. It's a shame they've been so warped by the deranged minds of these "writers" and "artists." I'm certain that solid case studies could prove comics not only cause delinquency and crime, but also obsesity and, perhaps, beardedness.
Dr. Wertham was a great man, and his legacy is being tarnished by the current comics industry, which seeks to undo all the moral progress that a great man once set into motion. These villains must be stopped. Who's with me? Let's reinstate a strong Comics Code! Let's censor this degrading and miserable content! Let's save the children! They're our future, dammit! We cannot let this horror go on, or America will fall! Don't let the terrorists win!
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
If Dr. Fredric Wertham, the mighty moralist, and Dr. William Moulton Marston, the maniacal fetishist and creator of Wonder Woman, were to fight to the death on a rickety rope bridge suspended above a volcano with bo staffs, who would win?