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Violence and Gore in Comics: Question of Juvenile Delinquency

When I see Violence and Gore in Comics, filled with blood and content directed towards mature audiences, I think of the old times when this practice was banned in comic books.

EC Comics was a major comic book publisher in the US during the 40’s. When Max Gaines, the owner of the company, died in a boating accident in 1947, his son, William Gaines took over and thus changed the way people look at comics. Under his ownership, EC came up with titles in various genres, most notably horror series like Shock Suspense Stories, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear and Tales from the Crypt. Fredric Wertham, an American psychiatrist, opposed these comics, claiming that these comics featuring excessive usage of violence, blood and gruesome imagery was one of the major reasons of ‘Juvenile Delinquency’ (the habitual committing of criminal acts by a young person).

He even went on to publish a book called “Seduction of the Innocent”, primarily targeting William Gaines and his company’s line of horror comics. This caused quite a ruckus in the comic book industry and soon, Gaines found himself standing in. front of a jury, trying to defend his ideas and coming out with the positives that his comic books highlighted. When all was said and done, Wertham had the last laugh as a Comics Code Authority was formed in 1954, which used to screen the comics published by the major firms in the US, and upon approval, stamped its approval logo on a corner of the front cover of the comics. This put an end to around half a dozen titles published by EC Comics and EC came up with its new direction line immediately, to replace its cancelled titles. The new titles consisted of realistic books like M.D. and Psychoanalysis which went through the CCA before making their way into the stands. EC also came up with a magazine named MAD, which targeted the current affairs and mostly political and social issues and presented them in a satirical manner. The magazine became a huge hit among the masses and it continued generating impressive sales even during EC’s troubles, which was mostly deemed a result of the new direction’s poor sales. MAD magazine survived amidst numerous cancellations and is still alive and well.

Comics Code Authority stopped meaning anything with the advent of the 21st century with newer publishers publishing books without the code’s approval and major publishers like DC and Marvel putting out mature content with an ‘M’ rating stamped on the covers. Graphic novels of Punisher (Antihero by Marvel Comics) contain way too much graphical gore and violence, check out our review of Punisher Max Slavers and Punisher Max Mother Russia.

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