Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Spooky Shangrila 2015 - The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You To Read

The season of fear is here, and all this month, I'll be putting up some spine-tingling Halloween-themed posts to set the stage for the 31st...

It's weird to think of in these days of gritty, Frank Miller-y superhero reboots, but there was a time when the comics industry was heavily self-censored. Gore, sex, and even words like "crime" or "horror" couldn't be used in comics, all thanks to a frenzy of public concern over pulpy stories ruining America's youth.

"The Horror! The Horror!" is a retrospective and collection of some of the '50s comics that people found so objectionable back in the day. In the book, writer Jim Trombetta cracks open his personal collection and reveals a treasure trove of striking covers and twisted stories:

These comics had to stand out in a crowded newsstand, so they all feature garish art and outsized titles. You'll see faces melted off, dastardly skeletons menacing damsels in distress, and terrors from beyond the grave (and the sea, and the stars).

There's a lesson here, though - if you try to control what people are allowed to say, you'll prevent them from saying anything meaningful, too, such as Maxwell Gaines's legendary story of racial prejudice, "Judgment Day."


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