Subscribe to The Horn Book

>No chance against Dick

>My weeding and re-shelving project has uncovered another gem, Fredric Wertham’s 1954 Seduction of the Innocent, a jeremiad about the corrupting influence of comic books:

“Sometimes Batman ends up in bed injured and young Robin is shown sitting next to him. At home they lead an idyllic life. They are Bruce Wayne and “Dick” Grayson. Bruce Wayne is described as a “socialite” and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce’s ward. They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. As they sit by the fireplace the young boy sometimes worries about his partner: ‘Something’s wrong with Bruce. He hasn’t been himself these past few days.’ It’s like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.

. . . In these stories there are practically no decent, attractive, successful women. A typical female character is the Catwoman, who is vicious and uses a whip. The atmosphere is homosexual and anti-feminine. If the girl is good-looking she is undoubtedly the villainess. If she is after Bruce Wayne, she will have no chance against Dick.”

In other news, water is wet.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Andrew Karre says:

    >Wow, that is a gem.

  2. J. L. Bell says:

    >Wertham’s book has served as the equivalent of a supervillain for comic-book fans since Jules Feiffer resurrected the memory of it in 1965.

    Curiously, what the doctor wrote about Batman and Robin undercuts his main thesis in the book—that reading comics deadened children’s sensitivity to the suffering of others.

    But of course some kinds of sensitivity were unhealthy!

  3. Anonymous says:

    >Although I adore clothing and styles from my coming of age in the 1960’s, that era’s male female stuff has got to go (and is not gone yet 🙂

    Anyway, doesn’t the bottom half of Batman’s outfit remind you of George Bush’s getup in that flight suit during the phony Mission Accomplished speech on a carrier?

  4. Anonymous says:

    >”Anyway, doesn’t the bottom half of Batman’s outfit remind you of George Bush’s getup in that flight suit during the phony Mission Accomplished speech on a carrier?”

    Clooney: Batman: George W. Bush. That’s something to discuss with your analyst.

  5. >Please tell me you didn’t throw this one out. At least e-Bay it… this book has a special place in the history of comics and somebody somewhere would be delighted to get their hands on a copy, if only to ritually burn it.

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Tim, when I took a look around to see what this copy (first ed, first printing, with jacket) of Wertham might be worth I put it in the Horn Book safe!

    The only books I’ve de-accessioned are some coffee table books from the 70s and many now-dated bibliographies of recommended children’s books. In all cases I’ve kept stuff published by the HB, or written by FHB, or likely to put the HB’s children through college.

  7. >Ah… so much for my plan of sneaking up to Boston and rooting around in the Dumpsters out back…

  8. >Can I just say, belatedly, that I think this is my favourite post of yours ever!

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >Thank you Judith, and I know that pic is now gracing the inside of your locker. 😉

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind