the ten cent plague-david hajdu

“How could Sunday school compete with the thing that topped the rainbow? The supplements transformed Sunday in millions of American homes, Christian and otherwise, and not only for children. At a time when the newspapers were not only the primary form of mass communication but the only form (notwithstanding the mail) in many households, the leaping distance from gray sheets of type, dotted with tiny little drawings, to pages filled with bold colors was a vast one greatened by the sordid, anarchic content of those pages. If Pulitzer and Hearst could not steal the day from the God of Christ, they certainly made it hard for His people to keep holy.”

and that is why i love this writer-he blows my mind every single time out. no coincidence that i transcribed these quotes while watching machete (we so should have seen that instead of the american). i didn’t think i could sit though the gore in the first scene, but the style (and soundtrack and hot nekkid ladies) just got me. cringe-inducing spanish aside, i love the movie translation of the comic book aesthetic and use of violence as a radical act. yes yes y’all.

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4 thoughts on “the ten cent plague-david hajdu

  1. censorship woes:

    “Unlike the movies and the broadcast media, comic books had no effective monitoring or regulatory mechanism-no powerful self-censoring body like the film industry’s Hays Office, no government authority like the FCC imposing content standards. Uninhibited, shameless, frequently garish and crude, often shocking, and sometimes excessive, these crime, horror, and romance comics provided young people of the early postwar years with a means of defying and escaping the mainstream culture of the time, while providing the guardians of that culture an enormous, taunting, close-range target. The world of comics became a battleground in a war between two generations, delineating two eras in American pop-culture history.” (6)

    “Comic books were a peril from within, however, rather than one from a foreign country or another planet. The line dividing the comics’ advocates and opponents was generational, rather than geographic. While many of the actions to curtail comics were attempts to protect the young, they were also efforts to protect the culture at large /from/ the young. Encoded in much of the ranting about comic books and juvenile delinquency were fears not only of what comics readers might become, but of what they already were-that is, a generation of people developing their own interests and tastes, along with a determination to indulge them.” (112)

    “Once, Plocinski picked up a comic to show a dealer an example of the kind of books the students were protesting, and he purchased it, thereby removing it from the shelf. He then took it home and tried to hide it, only to find the spot under the living-room sofa cushions was already taken: His father was keeping his detective magazines there.” (123)

    “The history of censorship in twentieth-century America is largely a story of self-regulation in the name of self-preservation-voluntary restraint enacted on the assumption that governmental restriction would be worse.” (127)

  2. feminism is for everyone:

    “Some romance comics defied formula and cliche, portraying young women struggling to break free of the social conventions of the day. Writers such as Aamodt, his partner Walter Geier, and Dana Dutch (a prolific writer of neatly crafted scripts, full of surprise, for the St. John publishing company), told stories of free-spirited, willful girls who thought and acted independently, challenging not only their parents, but their boyfriends-adults and males, the two major forces of authority at the time. No other genre of comic books was as overt in its depiction of youthful rebellion as romance comics, in which stories such as “I Joined a Teen-Age Sex Club” and “My Mother Was My Rival” were not uncommon. That the romance books were, at first, seen as harmless-just love stories, only girl stuff-allowed them to flourish in an era when other comics were held in suspicion.” (161)

  3. blame hip hop, er, comic books:

    “I don’t personally think it will have too detrimental an effect on children to read comic books,” Levy said. “In the nursery rhymes, you find rather macabre little tales of farmers’ wives who cut off rodents’ tails with butchers’ knives and men who jump into bramble bushes and scratch their eyes out and people putting cats in wells. Women putting children in ovens like gingerbread men.” (204)

    “When 1956 began, Feldstein was one of hundreds of writers, artists, and editors who found no more work in nominal work in the medium to which they had devoted their professional lives. “Everybody was punished,” said Carmine Infantino. “It was like the plague. The work had dried up, and you had nowhere to go, because comics were a dirty word. You couldn’t say you were a comics artist, and you had nothing to put in your portfolio. If you said you drew comic books, it was like saying you were a child molester. It was a nightmare, especially for a lot of people who got into comics in the first place because, you know, that was where we could go.” (326)

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