An Actor Prepares:
Dr. Frederic Wertham reads “Shock!”
Strange things happened to comic books in 1954. EC Comics chief Bill Gaines tore up two of his publications at a press conference in September and said, “I have now discontinued all horror and crime comics”. Two days later, the Comics Magazine Association of America held its own press conference, at which they announced the now-infamous Comics Code.
“A staff of five censors was working full-time, screening comic-book layouts after the inking stage”, writes David Hadju in The Ten-Cent Plague. “The Code was an unprecedented (and never surpassed) monument of self-imposed repression and prudery”.
In April that same year, the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearings on comic books and juvenile delinquency began, and the first person to give testimony was Dr. Frederick Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, which had pretty much kicked off the brouhaha. Among the comics he cited were issues of Crime SuspenStories from EC Comics and The Thing by Charlton Comics.