How the Government Turned Comic Books Into Propaganda

The use of government-issued comics for purposes of indoctrination.

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5. Johnny Gets the Word

Courtesty of University of Nebraska-LincolnCourtesty of University of Nebraska-LincolnWriter: Unknown

Date published: 1957 (original version), 1965 (revised version)

Government agency: New York City Department of Health

In the late 1940s, as public sentiment against crime comics intensified, the comic book industry turned to romance titles as a source of less objectionable material. According to David Hadju’s The Ten-Cent Plague, the industry was publishing 148 romance titles in 1950. In comparison, only 30 crime titles were being published at that time.

While Dr. Wertham worried that the close relationship enjoyed by Batman and Robin—not to mention their “sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases” and “beautifully landscaped” house—was instilling the nation’s youth with homoerotic urges, Johnny Gets the Word suggests all those romance comics of the early 1950s might have had more impact. Published by the New York City Department of Health, it depicts the Big Apple as an extremely active matrix of heterosexuality, where pretty much every teen, even that “nice kid” Gloria, has got “the siff.”

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John Galt||

    Everything I know, especially the morally corrupt psychotic stuff, I learned from comic books.

  • ||

    Not hard to believe.
    Look how many numnuts around here grew up fetishizing guns.
    It was probably a straight line from fapping over their Sgt Rock comics to fapping over their Guns N Ammo.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    Get bent, troll. Your probably fapping to gay porn in your mom's basement while you shove a broom handle up your ass.

  • JWatts||

    Nice article. That's a topic that I knew very little about.

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  • CE||

    So she worked 261.5 hours last month? That's 65 hours a week. No thanks, I already have a full time job.

  • Sevo||

    Everybody I know was saved from a life of crime when the comics started getting Approved by the Comics Code.
    If it weren't for that, why we'd be living in a Somalia!

  • Invisible Finger||

    These always creeped me out, though they they aren't "government" propaganda per se.

    These on the other hand...

  • CE||

    It's amazing that we're not all costumed vigilantes by now.

  • JeremyR||

    I do think comic books have had a harmful effect on society though. They pretty much killed off the pulps, which were essentially the same sort of stories, but the reader had to read on a 5th grade level instead of 1st grade.

    We've seen the ripple effect of this today - most men don't read anymore, almost every genre of fiction is dominated by women authors and readers. Which has a broader effect on culture in general.

    That's not to say they should have been regulated, but they still suck.

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  • Brazen||

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  • Brazen||

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  • Wizard4169||

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