Greg Beato on How the Government Turned Comic Books Into Propaganda

Courtesty of University of Nebraska-LincolnCourtesty of University of Nebraska-LincolnComic books, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham argued in a 1953 Ladies Home Journal article that preceded his 1954 best-seller, Seduction of the Innocent, were instruction manuals for everything from shoplifting in department stores to tween lust-murder. “If one were to set out how to teach children to steal, rob, lie, cheat, assault, and break into candy stores, no more insistent method could be devised,” he wrote.

Over the next decade, as critics like Wertham ramped up their campaign against the increasingly popular medium of comic books, the U.S. government itself published dozens of comics, a practice it continues to engage in, even today. As Greg Beato observes, if there was any entity that believed in the power of comic books to indoctrinate and instruct as Wertham did, it was the U.S. government.

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