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3. Foxhole on Your Front Lawn
Writer: Charles Biro
Date published: 1951
Government agency: U.S. Treasury
If you suspect it might be hard to base a gripping comic tale on defense bond interest rates, you’re correct. What makes this comic interesting is who created it—Charles Biro, the man behind the comic book series Crime Does Not Pay, which is credited with launching the crime comic genre. By the time Biro was helping the Treasury Department stave off the Red menace by illustrating the virtues of government bonds, Crime Does Not Pay was no longer quite as blood-soaked as it had been in the early 1940s. Nonetheless, the title was still going strong in 1951, and filled with fare like “Book of Sins” and “You’ll Never Live to Tell.” If Dr. Wertham was right about the influential power of comic books, then Biro can take credit for singled-handedly creating a generation of ruthless, patriotic, bond-buying thugs.
4. Chic Young’s Blondie in “Scapegoat”
Writer: Chic Young
Date published: 1952
Government agency: State of New York Department of Mental Hygiene
In the crime and horror comics of the late 1940s and early 1950s, the henpecked milquetoast who slaughters his boss or mutilates his wife in some fiendish fashion—only to ultimately suffer some even more gruesome fate himself—was a recurring character.
In “Scapegoat,” Dagwood Bumstead seems poised to go down this route. First, he fantasizes about choking out Mr. Dithers with a ferocity that makes the Hillside Stranglers look like Homer Simpson. Then, while trying to nap away his seething contempt for the world, he explodes at his family. Luckily, Blondie saves the day by teaching Dagwood how to manage his murderous outbursts by brutally assaulting a dusty rug. If this title ever inspired the nation’s tots to go on a tidy rampage of therapeutic room-cleaning, Dr. Wertham never caught wind of it.