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review 2013-04-12 18:25
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America - David Hajdu

Less than two years after the publication of Ray Bradbury's vision of future bonfires, Fahrenheit 451, the comic-book burnings of 1955, like the many that preceded them in the mid-to-late 1940s, were an inversion of Bradbury's prophecy. In the philistine dreamscape of Fahrenheit 451, a fascistic government institutionalized book burning, banishing all publications that expressed ideas or had artistic merit. The only volumes left unscathed were those deemed of practical value or those beneath contempt: trade journals, pornography, and comic books.


This is the story of American comic-books' Golden Era and how those books were attacked by fear-mongering 'specialists' and self-appointed defenders of good taste. The scariest thing about this book is that the attackers actually succeeded in castrating the medium and censoring the artists for the sake of decorum and 'saving the children'. The descriptions of book-burning events organized by the children themselves (instigated by concerned parents and teachers) were especially hard for me to wrap my head around, specially in a post-war context, but this book makes it easier to understand. It also helps put the history of comics into perspective.


All in all, a recommended read for comic-book enthusiasts.

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review 2012-10-08 00:00
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America - David Hajdu Rating: 4* of fiveJust read it. It's sixteen kinds of fascinating and a few more kinds of awesome.Seriously. Just go get one and read it! Quit looking at reviews! Too much good stuff in here that anyone alive in this horrifying over-religioned right wing fucking nightmare country we've allowed to develop in our beloved USA should know about! Censorship and fear-mongering and lying sack-of-shit conservatives are not new developments...just more common than ever.ETA This encouragement brought to you by someone who has never liked comic books even when they're called "graphic novels" and got all pretentious and stuff. It's still an excellent read, and a hugely important subject.
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review 2008-09-01 00:00
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America - David Hajdu I loved the opening, the first few sections that detailed the rise of comic strips then comics -- and particularly loved Hajdu's ability to weave in great anecdotes (one artist telling how his Mom would make two extra trips to the butcher to get more greasepaper, so he could spend more time tracing his favorites from the Sunday funnies) with incisive critical reflection.

He's also often quite funny, e.g.:
"Comic strips, having been created for an intrinsicially disposable medium, were thought of as worthless after they were printed; they derived their value from their freshness, like produce and journalism (and, to a degree, works of modernism)."

Nice. I was mad when the book-burners and crusaders and psycho-babblers came in to break up the party; the killjoys represented a disruption of the industry and of Hajdu's joyous accounting of that industry, and I hated them on both counts.

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