Posts Tagged ‘comics code’

69 Days of Wonder Woman, Day 8: Super Dictionary, “I am against the people who make trouble.”

November 25, 2010

It’s interesting how quickly, even before the infamous code descended and cut out some of the popular gory lines, comics became dominated by superhero/crimefighter stories, due of course to the mad success of Superman. Sure, there have always been pulp adventure and horror comics, but when most people even think of comic books, it’s the heroes with which they associate the genre. The writers are driven by the publishers, who are driven by sales, which are driven by readers — so the natural conclusion is that a story about a badass goodhearted hero who fights crime is what the audience wants to read.


Drawing by Anthony Tan via fyeahww on the tumblr.

Comics are such manifestly wish-fulfillment-meets-folktale, flimsy-and-touching paper myths, that I think there’s a beautiful lesson here: we want to read about the hero who fights crime, who is “against” troublemakers and waiting with her golden lasso to show them what real trouble is, because we, ourselves, wish to do that. We wish to have a secret identity and fight for those who have no voice, to put a stop to injustices against our fellow men. All these generations of readers have wished to make the world better, not just for accolades or girls but because it is the right thing to do. And that’s really a great and inspiring thing. It’s sweet and charming and kind of triumphant, isn’t it?

Daily Batman: Strong legs

August 30, 2010


via comicallyvintage on the tumblr.

Tightly clamped legs is just what the doctor ordered, eh, Bruce? I suppose Dr. Wertham would make much of this, but sometimes a boy dangling from a chain and riding you is just a boy dangling from a chain and riding you.

Daily Batman: the little Robin was a hot button

August 29, 2010


vintage poster art by Michael Myers on the behance network.

“Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive …. They constantly rescue each other from violent attacks by an unending number of enemies. The feeling is conveyed that we men must stick together because there are so many villainous creatures who have to be exterminated. They lurk not only under every bed but also behind every star in the sky” (p. 190-1).

Wertham argued that danger could be stimulating, and that in the wrong circumstances that stimulation could take a sexual turn. He called such stories “erotic rescue fantasies.” They were intended, he said, to make Robin more devoted to Batman than to anyone else on earth.

(Wertham, Frederic. Seduction of the Innocent. 1954. qtd in “Wertham’s Ghost,” The Animated Batman. April 19, 2006.)

Childrens’ rights crusader, noted comic-“reformer,” and homophobe Dr. Frederic Wertham took special care in his explosively nonsensical bullshit-book Seduction of the Innocent to devote more time to dissecting the perceived homoeroticism in Batman than to any other comic of the time. Winner, winner, chicken dinner? Dubious and highly disputed honor. For the record, the creators initially found his accusations laughable and explained that the character of Robin was indeed intended as wish-fulfillment, but only to keep the audience of young boys who imagined themselves being able to aid the Dark Knight in his efforts to clean up his city. Oh, what rabble-rousers.

On the other hand, Wertham is perhaps the first theorist of any note to take a genuinely psychological and critical eye to comics, trying to root out the source of their success and overarching mythos in their stories, and, though I may not 100% agree with his conclusions, I cannot in good conscience decry that early and earnest undertaking of a stab at a [misguided] unified theory of comics. People read them: they do matter.

Daily Batman: Meet me in the Batcave

November 3, 2009

Do not fret, little Robin.

Batman has had experience in That Area.

I am considering buying Amy Kiste Nyberg’s Seal of Approval off the amazon. Is this a good move? Worth it? Bueller?

Daily Batman: It happens redux

September 22, 2009

Batgirl is shocked —shocked!— by the homosexuality she is seeing here, you guys. Good gravy.


(by Mark Chamberlain)

Actually, Betty Kane, the first Batgirl, was specifically brought in to the Batman comic story line to quell the HUAC accusations of tacit endorsement of homosexuality in the comics industry. Far better writers than me have tackled the story, including the incredibly wonderful Michael Chabon in his Pulitzer-prize-winning fictional account of a large span of the lives of two cousins as they intersect with comics history, a narrative which includes the time period during which the so-called Comics Code was formed, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a book that is this wonderful journey through several decades that touches on everything from love to Dali to the second World War, and which I recommend with the highest praise to any and everyone.