Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Name calling

The opposition to my research has taken various forms:

I have been called a Billy Sunday.

Later that has been changed to Savonarola.

Millions of comic books in the hands of children have had whole pages defending comic books against "one Dr. Wertham."

A comic strip sequence syndicated in newspapers was devoted to a story of the famous child psychologist Dr. Fredrick Muttontop who speaks against crime comic books, but on returning to his old home town for a lecture on "Comic books, the menace to American childhood" is told that when he was a boy he used to read much worse things himself.

And the cover of a crime comic book has shown a caricature of me as a psychiatrist tied to a chair in his office with mouth tightly closed and sealed with many strips of adhesive tape.

This no doubt was wishful thinking on the part of the comic-book publishers.

But as my studies continue, it seems to many that Virgilia Peterson, author and critic, states the core of the question when she says: "The most controversial thing about Dr. Wertham's statements about comic books is the fact that anyone finds them controversial." Still, there are counterarguments and counteractions. These are all taken very seriously, read and followed carefully, and as a matter of fact incorporated into the social part of my research into the comic-book problem.

Little did I think when I started it that this study would continue for as long as it has. A specialist in child psychology referring to my correlation of crime comic books with violent forms of juvenile delinquency wrote disdainfully that no responsibility should be placed on "such trivia as comic books." I thought that once, too. But the more children I study, the more comic books I read, and the more I analyze the arguments of comic book defenders, the more I learn that what may appear as "trivia" to adults is not trivia in the lives of many children.