Policing the Comics

March 21, 1952

Report Outline
Public Concern Over Impact of the Comics
Rise of Comics in American Newspapering
Methods of Controlling Objectionable Comics
Serious Uses of Comic Strip Techniques

Public Concern Over Impact of the Comics

Passage by the New York legislature shortly before its March adjournment of legislation to ban publication and sale of comic books which tend to incite minors to crime or violence again directs attention to a subject that has worried American parents for years. The bill was recommended by a joint committee which for two years had studied the effects of comic books on youth; it was accepted by the Senate and Assembly by almost unanimous votes. If signed by Gov. Dewey and upheld by the courts, the new legislation will have wide effects because New York is the publishing center of the comic book industry.

Possibilities of congressional attention to the comics are indicated by a resolution introduced by Rep. Gathings (D., Ark.) which would set up a select committee to determine “the extent to which current literature—books, magazines and comic books—containing immoral, obscene, or otherwise offensive matter, or placing improper emphasis on crime, violence and corruption, are being made available to the people of the United States”. A similar resolution has been offered by Rep. Rees (R., Kan.) and a second Gathings resolution calls for an investigation of television.

American comics, now widely sold abroad, have stirred up controversy in other lands as well as in the United States. The parliaments of France and Canada have adopted laws banning circulation of crime comics. And a group of British school teachers asked in January that action be taken to prevent the sale in England of American comic books which they described as “pernicious and degrading publications”.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 16, 2004  Broadcast Indecency
Mar. 28, 2003  Movie Ratings
Nov. 17, 1995  Sex, Violence and the Media
Feb. 19, 1993  School Censorship
Dec. 20, 1991  The Obscenity Debate
Dec. 07, 1990  Does Cable TV Need More Regulation?
May 16, 1986  Pornography
Jan. 04, 1985  The Modern First Amendment
Oct. 19, 1979  Pornography Business Upsurge
Mar. 09, 1979  Broadcasting's Deregulated Future
Mar. 21, 1973  Pornography Control
May 17, 1972  Violence in the Media
Jan. 21, 1970  First Amendment and Mass Media
Jul. 05, 1967  Prosecution and the Press
Jun. 28, 1961  Peacetime Censorship
Apr. 12, 1961  Censorship of Movies and TV
Dec. 23, 1959  Regulation of Television
Jul. 29, 1959  Control of Obscenity
Jul. 27, 1955  Bad Influences on Youth
Mar. 21, 1952  Policing the Comics
Apr. 12, 1950  Censorship of Motion Pictures
Sep. 20, 1939  Censorship of Press and Radio
Popular Culture
Print Media
Regulation and Legal Issues