Censorship’s Impact on Comic Book Value

By Jamie

I found this really interesting clip about censorship of comic books in the 1940s and 1950s. Apparently, Dr. Fredric Wertham along with two senators attacked the comic book industry with hearings and a huge smear campaign.

Wertham, who worked with juvenile delinquents, found that one common tie between them was that they all read comic books. Of course, at that time comic books were widely popular with most young people, but Dr. Wertham failed to make this important realization.

Just like today’s hearings about music and video games, the comic book hearings resulted in a rating system. The comic book publishers banded together and decided what to publish based on strict censorship rules. The Comics Code Authority approval had to be granted before any comic was to be published.

Comics were heavily shaped by this code. Super heros like Superman, Bat-man and Wonder Woman all changed their behavior to make people more comfortable. Check out the video for yourself.

I can’t even begin to imagine how huge of an impact this must have had on the comic books we read today. Imagine where the natural evolution of the books would be today if it hadn’t been interrupted. What a shame that so many people who might have enjoyed reading comics, have never even picked on up because the readership levels were cut so sharply, years ago. It is so strange to see that our culture has a way of repeating itself even though the past has proven against it.

I suppose there are some good things that came from this terrible situation. Today’s comics prices might have been higher if demand for them was greatly increased and the worth of comics from before the Comics Code Authority must be astronomical. Collectors are probably foaming at the mouth to get comic books in a more pure form. I’m not sure how long the approval system was in place but comics with the seals of approval might even show up for high dollar amounts in a comic price guide if they are hard to find. I’d be shocked if these comics appraisals weren’t effected by this at all. All comics appraisers know that a collectibles value is often shaped by historical events.

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