Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What Would Dr. Fredric Wertham Do?

In the 1950s psychiatrist* Dr. Fredric Wertham, in his book The Seduction Of The Innocent, more or less said kids who thrived on comic books, especially horror-type of comic books were headed for that kind of thrill of killing themselves.

The book caused and uproar in parents and of course the politicians took advantage of the public pulse and had a senate hearing on the issue. It looked like the future of comics was doomed.

And some specific comic books were doomed, such as EC Comics' lines, such as “Tales From The Crypt” and “Vault of Horror” to name a couple.

To wiggle out of the negative public opinion the comic book publishers themselves offered sort of a self-police and picked leaders of the NYC community to approve comics before they went to press – thus you had the Comics Code Authority and any comic must have their seal of approval before distributors would touch it. So much for the Freedom of Press. Now, such silliness has been thrown out with the other garbage.

Now, for the question in the title:

On last night’s LAW AND ORDER, SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT was about a comic book named “Morte”. “Morte” was a comic book devoted to the murders that was done by serial killer Robert Morten who considered each killing a work of art because the special ways he carved each woman up.

Morten was serving something like 3 life sentences when the comics were published.

Wait! Murders started happening duplicating the comic books duplicating Morten’s murders.

If this was real, I can see Dr. Wertham scratching his head saying, “Oh me! What a fine mess!”

* I orginally said Dr. Wertham was a physiologist but my friend Pappy corrected me, which I am grateful.



Blogger Suzanne said...

Did you read "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?" The book is all about comic books in the 1940s and 1950s and is pretty good, although I didn't like the second half of the book as much as the first.

10:58 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Yes I did! Good read. I agree with you though - the 2nd half isn't as good... it seemed to go down hill after one of them spent months in a crashed fighter plane in the Arctic.
Now I am reading another book by the author, Michael Chabon, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" which takes place in Alaska during statehood. He must love to write about cold climates.
Statehood or not, it is a murder mystery - It is good, but it is hard for me to fall into the Yiddish lingo rhythm... so, I take a little bit at a time.

11:24 AM  

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