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The Great Comic-Book Scare

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

In elementary school, a contingent of classmates began to collect Marvel cards. They were vivid things, glimmering with metallic foil. Spiderman. Doctor Doom. Magneto. There were mutant men with fantastic powers and a propensity for violence. And there were mutant women with fantastic powers, a propensity for violence, and superhuman anatomy. After a while, a group of parents protested. There is no room for this in a classroom, they said. Or on the playground, they continued. It was a Montessori school, so we had a healthy debate about the cards. Are they offensive? Did they have any value? Ultimately, we decided, they would stay in our cubbies 'til recess.

In his new book, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, David Hajdu writes about another comic-related scandal, admittedly of greater importance than the one I lived through. (You can see some images from his book here.)

In the 1950s, there was a nation-wide movement to censor comic books. He'll join us in the second hour, to talk about it. If you've read and collected comic books, did you ever suspect that they were censored? How important is sex and violence in a comic book? Do you think there is more sex and violence in comic books today?

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David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.