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Comic books and Mockingbird


Guest Mark Valenti
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Guest Mark Valenti

I came across this title, which describes a secret organization of supposed ordinary citizens who perform clandestine work against evil.

A little more digging reveals a decades-old effort on the part of comic book publishers to cast the U.S. in a righteous light and nearly every other country in a lesser role. Aside from what kids are taught in school, I wonder how the world view of the average citizen was cast in stone by the content of these and other entertainment products.

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At the same time, William Gaines' EC Comics, which published the satirical Mad and various first-rate horror comics (e.g. Tales from the Crypt), was driven out of business for its "poor taste" and bad influence on youngsters. (I was an avid EC reader as a kid, so I'm a good example of what such publications can do to you.)

From the Wikipedia (article on William Gaines):

"Gaines was negatively depicted by the nation's media as its foremost amoral publisher. By 1955, EC was effectively driven out of business by the backlash, and by the Comics Magazine Association of America. The Association was an industry group that Gaines himself had suggested to insulate themselves from outside censorship, but he soon lost control of the organization to John Goldwater, publisher of the innocuous Archie teenage comics. The Comics Code that was approved and adopted by most of the country's prominent publishers contained restrictions specifically targeted at Gaines' line of horror and crime comic books."

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What, me worry?

(Walker and his Lawyer) Watts did worry...

General Walker and his Lawyer Wattts (who later organised the private investigation of 'who once (apparently) shot ( in the direction of ) (and didn't kill) Walker. were quite active in the late 50's in having MAD banned. They wrote a number of letters to the FBI complaining. To their credit, on the whole the FBI seems to have regarded them as a bunch of loonies. Hoover himself however was offended by some of MAD's 'campaigns' where odd cutouts (forms for memberships in obviously bogus FBI departments) from MAD mags from very naughty boys and girls throughout the US flooded the FBI mail boxes. (vive la resistance)

The political cartoon, the definition of what is art and various political posters erected by the powers that be, the pre-photo illustrated pulp and other publications were also seen by children and perhaps, as they actually represented directly the attitude of real persons and dominant forces in the societies of the time had a significant impact.

Then of course there is the 'underground magazines' like OZ for example that didn't bother kids but definitely disturbed the 'establishment'.

Edited by John Dolva
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  • 4 weeks later...

Daniel had some computer problems and sent me this to post on his behalf:

"My recollection of these...issues is, as Ron suggests, that this was part of a larger effort in the mid-50s in the States to deal with the "problem" of juvenile delinquency; the legendary EC horror comics were considered the most egregious example of potentially subversive influence because they were too...graphic in their depictions of really cool horror stories. The problem supposedly was about the comics industry being unregulated and "children shouldn't read," etc. The result was the creation of the Comics Code Authority and the resultant sterility of mainstream comics.

But this also had the effect of reinvigorating the genre of superhero comics, in what is called the Silver Age of comics, with the reintroduction of newer versions of old heroes (Silver Age Flash, SA Green Lantern, etc) and the introduction of a whole new universe in Marvel Comics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Age_of_Comic_Books

Marvel would obliquely address issues like discrimination (viz., the X-Men, where "mutants" were symbols for minority groups), and go on to introduce the first black superhero (the Black Panther) and eventually begin to challenge the limits of the Comics Code Authority by dealing with subjects like drug addiction. (Incidentally, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were both Jewish, which could make them suspect in certain circles.) By the late 1960s and early '70s there were some attempts to deal with "social relevance" topics, most memorably in the classic run by writer Denny O'Neill and the great Neal Adams (artist) in the Green Lantern/Green Arrow title in DC Comics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern

I think all of this may not be as simple as attempts to set in stone American kids' beliefs about conformity and American superiority. Maybe Mark could post the results of his digging in this area, as he alludes to in his first post. As his "Hello, Sailor" post suggests, Establishment attempts to promote supposedly more normal ideals sometimes has some fairly peculiar and even hilarious ironies. (There's also that problem of the potentially homoerotic subtext in the relationships between Batman and Robin, Captain America and Bucky, Superman and Jimmy Olsen, etc).

When I started collecting comics as a kid there was a storyline (Steve Englehart, writer; Sal Buscema, artist) where Captain America was a fugitive on the run from shadowy forces who were also out to lock up all mutants (X-Men and their ilk). In the climactic battle against this "Secret Empire," Captain America chased the group's leader into the Oval Office of the White House and unmasked him (Secret Empire uniforms consisting of a green robe with matching Klan-like hood)..... As a result of his dejection over discovering who was behind the mask (never revealed to the reading public), Captain America briefly gave up being Captain America. He eventually settled on the notion that he did not work for the government but should instead try to represent the best of American ideals and idealism."

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At the same time, William Gaines' EC Comics, which published the satirical Mad and various first-rate horror comics (e.g. Tales from the Crypt), was driven out of business for its "poor taste" and bad influence on youngsters. (I was an avid EC reader as a kid, so I'm a good example of what such publications can do to you.)

From the Wikipedia (article on William Gaines):

"Gaines was negatively depicted by the nation's media as its foremost amoral publisher. By 1955, EC was effectively driven out of business by the backlash, and by the Comics Magazine Association of America. The Association was an industry group that Gaines himself had suggested to insulate themselves from outside censorship, but he soon lost control of the organization to John Goldwater, publisher of the innocuous Archie teenage comics. The Comics Code that was approved and adopted by most of the country's prominent publishers contained restrictions specifically targeted at Gaines' line of horror and crime comic books."

I remember when Marvel caused a controversy in 1971 when they published a three part drug related story in their Spider Man title which failed to display the Comics Code seal of approval.

Spider-Man #96-#98. Hit the link for a look at Gil Kane's excellent artwork on the cover of issue #98.

http://comics.ha.com/common/view_item.php?...1105&src=pr

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Guest Mark Valenti

Here are a few more samples - they're a little hard to discern but you may get the general idea from the abundance of stars and stripes. Of particular interest is the one with Batman, Robin and Superman straddling decidedly phallic weaponry.

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At the same time, William Gaines' EC Comics, which published the satirical Mad and various first-rate horror comics (e.g. Tales from the Crypt), was driven out of business for its "poor taste" and bad influence on youngsters. (I was an avid EC reader as a kid, so I'm a good example of what such publications can do to you.)

From the Wikipedia (article on William Gaines):

"Gaines was negatively depicted by the nation's media as its foremost amoral publisher. By 1955, EC was effectively driven out of business by the backlash, and by the Comics Magazine Association of America. The Association was an industry group that Gaines himself had suggested to insulate themselves from outside censorship, but he soon lost control of the organization to John Goldwater, publisher of the innocuous Archie teenage comics. The Comics Code that was approved and adopted by most of the country's prominent publishers contained restrictions specifically targeted at Gaines' line of horror and crime comic books."

Ron, all of that is true, but it's not the whole story. Gaines' fate was sealed when he gave testimony at the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings on comic books in NY. He was the only publisher to appear before it, and he had been talked into this suicide mission by his business manager, Lyle Stuart. Moreover, Stuart got him fired up for the appearance with Dexedrine and also wrote his statements for it. All in all, public perception of Gaines was now that of a foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic - thanks to Stuart. The kindest words Gaine's employees had for ol' Lyle was that he was "extremely manipulative".

Not long before those hearings, a kid from the South would get himself in some bother in the Big Apple. Comic books were mentioned in reports regarding his truancy. Toward the end of 1953, his Probation Officer would note that some paperwork had gone missing from the kid's file. The file had been at the Family Court Clinic. The head of the Court Clinic was a Dr Harris Peck. Peck would be among the star witnesses at the hearings in April, 1954.

This same subcommittee would, during 1963, be investigating the sale of mail order weapons.

Stuart, by the early '60s became treasurer of a little group called the FPCC. During this same period, he also financed a West Coast publication called "The Californian" for a "prodigy" named Burton Wolfe. This publication was either of the muckraking variety, or was the precursor for the Alternative Press. Depends who you believe - take your pick. Stuart's financial support of Wolfe didn't end there. He also sponsored Wolfe to go on the PLM organized trip to Cuba. Others on that trip included Phillip Luce, and Robert Kaffke.

Wolfe's career took it's own twists and turns. In '68, he joined the Satanic Church and became business partners with (suspected) CIA connected church head honcho, Anton LeVey. By the mid '70s, Wolfe was writing what have been described as "classics in anti-labor speak".

Stuart served with Air Transport Command during WWII - as did J Fletcher Prouty.

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dbl post

Edited by John Dolva
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Greg: "This same subcommittee would, during 1963, be investigating the sale of mail order weapons."

"Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency"

".....business manager, Lyle Stuart. Moreover, Stuart got him fired up for the appearance with Dexedrine and also wrote his statements for it. All in all, public perception of Gaines was now that of a foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic - thanks to Stuart. The kindest words Gaine's employees had for ol' Lyle was that he was "extremely manipulative"."

Lyle Stuart - Oct 7 1963 and the FPCC

A Stanley Faulkner apparently motivated a Richard Gibson to burn all the NY FPCC records and according to Stuart, he resigned as treasurer as the result of this and a growing 'red-baiting' of the FPCC.

From : "Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee" (members???? who knows?) :

http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...37|1|1|1|68926|

(EDIT:: Scroll down to link to page two of this document)

Is there an interconnected pattern here?

Edited by John Dolva
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dbl post

Edited by John Dolva
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Greg: "Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency"

"This same subcommittee would, during 1963, be investigating the sale of mail order weapons."

".....business manager, Lyle Stuart. Moreover, Stuart got him fired up for the appearance with Dexedrine and also wrote his statements for it. All in all, public perception of Gaines was now that of a foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic - thanks to Stuart. The kindest words Gaine's employees had for ol' Lyle was that he was "extremely manipulative"."

Lyle Stuart - Oct 7 1963 and the FPCC : From : "Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee"

A Stanley Faulkner apparently motivated a Richard Gibson to burn all the NY FPCC records and according to Stuart, he resigned as treasurer as the result of this and a growing 'red-baiting' of the FPCC.

http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...37|1|1|1|68926|

Scroll down to link to page two of this document

"Senate Internal Security Subcommittee

.... More commonly known as the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS)...to study and investigate (1) the administration, operation, and enforcement of the Internal Security Act of 1950...also known as the McCarran Act) and other laws relating to espionage, sabotage, and the protection of the internal security of the United States and (2) the extent, nature, and effects of subversive activities in the United States "including, but not limited to, espionage, sabotage, and infiltration of persons who are or may be under the domination of the foreign government or organization controlling the world Communist movement or any movement seeking to overthrow the Government of the United States by force and violence." The resolution also authorized the subcommittee to subpoena witnesses and require the production of documents. ...

13.91 (in 1957) James O. Eastland of Mississippi became chairman, a position he held until the subcommittee was abolished in 1977."

Clearly Eastland failed in this role. Deliberately so???

"James Eastland is best known for his virulent opposition to the American Civil Rights Movement. He was an open and unashamed racist and segregationist. When the Supreme Court issued its decision in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas 347 US 483 (1954), Eastland denounced it, saying:

"On May 17, 1954, the Constitution of the United States was destroyed because of the Supreme Court's decision. You are not obliged to obey the decisions of any court which are plainly fraudulent [and based on] sociological considerations."

Moreover, Eastland called Brown illegal and proclaimed that "resistance to tyranny is obedience to God."

Eastland did not mince words when it came to his feelings about the races mingling. He testified to the U.S. Senate 10 days after the Brown decision came down: “The Southern institution of racial segregation or racial separation was the correct, self-evident truth which arose from the chaos and confusion of the Reconstruction period. Separation promotes racial harmony. It permits each race to follow its own pursuits, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination. … Mr. President, it is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. All free men have the right to associate exclusively with members of their own race, free from governmental interference, if they so desire.”

When three civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman went missing in Mississippi on June 21, 1964, he reportedly told President Lyndon Johnson that the incident was a hoax and there was no Ku Klux Klan in the state, surmising that the three had gone to Chicago"

This is plainly BS. They had been murdered by the KKK including Law enforcement officers. The KKK was very active and present in a number of forms in Mississippi. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission which Eastland was part of had on file these people before they were murdered and quite likely provided the murderers with details

Eastland : "resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.". Tyrrany to him was Kennedy's proven stand on de-segregation as shown particularly during the Oxford Insurrection led by Governor Barrett and General Walker when Kennedy sent the army and the National Guard to Mississippi to enforce the Law and ordered the Barrett to order the Mississsippi Highway Patrol to obey his (the President) orders and not Barretts (and Eastland and Walkers) wishes. They grudgingly appeared to do so but surreptitiously allowed carloads of segregationists to pass the Patrol lines and the riots that ensued(leading to a number of deaths and casualties) led to Walkers arrest and no doubt to a burning desire to do away with Kennedy.

Edited by John Dolva
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