© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wars of Comics and Culture in 'Ten-Cent Plague'

Boy reading comic book, looking shocked.
Join the Discussion
/
/

After World War II, the squeaky-clean comic-book superheroes of the 1940s were joined on newsstand shelves by darker, edgier anti-heroes and -heroines. Inspired by the same influences driving pulp fiction and film noir, graphic novels took on grittier, more adult narratives — and naturally were a hit with young readers.

It wasn't long before parents took notice. In The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America, David Hajdu chronicles what he calls "a forgotten chapter in the history of the culture wars" — the heated controversy over comics.

Hajdu says those disputes — which included book burnings and congressional hearings — were about much more than cartoons. Ten-Cent Plague details how the controversy nearly killed the comic business but also played a key role in defining postwar pop culture.

"The comic-book war was one of the first and hardest-fought conflicts between young people and their parents in America," Hajdu writes, "and it seems clear, too, now, that it was worth the fight."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.