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Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham

Seduction of the Innocent (1954)

by Fredric Wertham

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This limited-edition 2004 reprint of Seduction of the Innocent will make a welcome addition to the bookshelves of those studying Cold War culture, moral panics, or the history of comics. It maintains the pagination of the 1954 first edition and includes the "shocking" examples of comics that Fredric Wertham chose to bolster his argument. Wertham makes extensive use of case studies in his analysis of comic books. Most of these studies appear carefully chosen for maximum shock value in order to prove his point. Wertham continually equates Superman with the Nazi vision of the übermensch. Discussing Wonder Woman, he writes, “Superwoman (Wonder Woman) is always a horror type. She is physically very powerful, tortures men, has her own female following, is the cruel, ‘phallic’ woman. While she is a frightening figure for boys, she is an undesirable ideal for girls, being the exact opposite of what girls are supposed to want to be” (pg. 33). This same argument returns in a later chapter where he too it a step further, suggesting Wonder Woman promoted lesbianism and also equated Batman and Robin with a homosexual relationship (pgs. 189-193). Wertham goes into great detail on his methodology, discussing the use of the Rorschach Test, the Mosaic Test, intelligence and aptitude tests, the Association Test, and the Duess Test. All of these serve to set up further case studies and to demonstrate his bona fides (pgs. 56-62). Naturally, most of his analytical methods are no longer in use in psychology. Wertham writes in a conversational tone, using phrases such as “many years ago” (pg. 315) and “not long ago” (pg. 320). In this way, he can better reach his audience of laypeople. Unfortunately, this same relaxed style means that he offers neither footnotes nor endnotes to back up his claims. In 2012, Carol Tilley published her article "Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics" in Information & Culture: A Journal of History in which she demonstrated how Wertham falsified data and misled the public. Historians of the period may continue to find insight in Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, but it should be viewed in the same light as other disproven historical theses. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Oct 27, 2016 |
"For over half a century, the comic book industry has been dogged by the work of one man, the anti-comics crusader and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham. His bestselling 1954 book The Seduction of the Innocent convinced parents and politicians alike that comics were a direct cause of violence, drug use, and homosexuality among young people. It led to the restrictive editorial code issued by the Comics Magazine Association of America, and a national movement to keep comics away from children and teens.

Though Wertham claimed his evidence came from thousands of case studies, it turns out that he was lying. A new investigation of Wertham's papers by University of Illinois information studies professor Carol Tilley has revealed that the psychologist fabricated, exaggerated, and selectively edited his data to bolster his argument that comics caused antisocial behavior."

io9 How One Man's Lie Almost Destroyed the Comics Industry

  EinfachMich | Sep 21, 2013 |
1996 reprint, very limited editon. The foundation of the Comics Code Authority was created in the mid to late 1950's due to Dr. Fredric Wertham's book SOTI. Detailed research into why our youth (in the 50's) were being corrupted due to many comic books promoting sex, drugs, murder, gambling, stealing, torture, etc. The book also has examples (images) of suggestive comic book covers and interiors showing all of the above mentioned items. Typical comic covers mentioned are women being tied up (bondage covers) and/ or drawn with "inviting" breasts or more commonly called "headlights" in the comic world. A true class (and expenisive) headlights/bondage cover is PHANTOM LADY #17, other comics worth investigating are: Reform School Girl, Crime does not pay, EC Comics Shock SuspenseStories, Crime SuspenseStories, The Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, and many many more. Comic books listed in SOTI now demand quite a premium and are all listed in most comic price guides such as Robert M. Overstreet. A must have for any comic collector, researcher, and historian. A bit dated of course but still is noteworthy as historical information in the history of Golden Age comic books. ( )
1 vote illustrationfan | Nov 24, 2008 |
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