Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read!

The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read!
Jim Trombetta
Abrams ComicArts, 2010
$21.95, Softcover

Genre: Nonfiction, Graphic Novels
Age: 14+
Description: The Horror! The Horror! is a nonfiction look at the pre-Comics Code Authority horror comics of the 1950s (and earlier). This book is quite large (in format and pages—300) and detailed. It has a number of chapters that focus on a variety of subjects (censorship, zombies, vampires, werewolves, sex, and so on) that open with a detailed essay by Trombetta and then includes tons of cover images from his own personal comic book collection and reprinted stories.
Opinion: This look at the awesome pre-CCA horror comics isn’t as good as other books, such as Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics by Greg Sadowski and John Benson. The author’s essays are written in very small font in double columns which is hard on the eyes and there are more cover images than actual stories reprinted. I wouldn’t suggest this really for teens unless they are diehard fans because it is definitely more of a scholarly work (the writing is very elevated and might go over some readers’ heads). However, I do recommend the first few essays for any comic book fan or teen interested in literary censorship. The chapters on Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent which lead to the Senate trials and the creation of the CCA are an important part of comic book history and a great look at book censorship. The book also comes with a 25-minute DVD of a rare TV special called Confidential File, which aired in 1955 about the evils of comic books and their effect on juvenile delinquency. Teens would get a kick out of how “blown out of proportion” these censorship cases seem to nowadays readers.

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