In the 1950s comic books faced criticism that led to burnings and censorship! Here are the comics that caused the most controversy!
This is a project to create a collection of controversial crime, horror and weird comics from a Golden Age that never existed! Comics that were guilty of every vice that politicians and psychologists accused the whole comics industry of being! The book, NO SOCIAL REDEEMING VALUE: The Secret Inside History of the U.S. GOVERNMENT VS. COMIC BOOKS! by Mort Todd, will be half graphic novel and half text novel covering the government's campaign against an industry, and a small comics publisher in particular, during the 1950s.
Psychologists, parent groups and law enforcement were concerned that comic books caused the moral decay of youth and led to juvenile delinquency, murder and worse! Towns, churches and other organizations sponsored public comic book burnings, forcing children to burn publications that would be worth hundreds and thousands of dollars within a few decades. Politicians hopped on board to further their careers and created Senate Subcommittee hearings to address the very serious problem of, yes, comic books. Coming close to shutting them down, or having the government censoring the comics industry, the politicians were thwarted when the publishers decided to self-censor their material, creating the Comics Code. Not much has changed politically since, as today bureaucrats cry that there would be no violence, and life would be a utopia if only there were no video games, rap CDs, large sodas, guns or (fill in the blank)…
Mort's book, NO SOCIAL REDEEMING VALUE: The Secret Inside History of the U.S. GOVERNMENT VS. COMIC BOOKS! will be a roman á clef of the comics industry through that period, based on true stories of the publishers and comics creators. Much of the information came from actual participants of the comic book witch hunts that Mort has worked with through his own role as Editor of Cracked magazine and at Marvel Comics.
The book follows the life of New York publisher Zigmund Z. Zoosman, who created the Zeus Comics line in the 1940s. We see his ups and downs in the industry, his interaction with gangsters and the government, as well as the creators and the comic creations that will be the focal point of the novel section of the book.
The book itself will be half text, lavishly illustrated with photos (most doctored to include Zeus titles), magazine and newspaper articles, and comic covers and panels from the 1940s and 50s. The other half will be comic book 'reprints' from the titles discussed, featuring the full stories with themes and images that feature questionable content for the times.
This project started when Mark Martin contacted fellow cartoonist Mort Todd about contributing to the 2013 FantaCon program. The theme is 100 years of the FantaCon comic conventions… however, there haven't been conventions for a 100 years! Different artists will be spotlighting comics from various eras that never existed. Mort chose to create a fake company from the 1950s, Zeus Comics, to illustrate the real-life witch hunt of that decade, which included actual burnings!
To test modern public reaction, Mort set up what has been called "the greatest prank in comics history" on Facebook this last April Fools Day. Creating a website page ( http://getvex.com/zeus.html ) and Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/ZeusEternal ), Mort started posting material the weekend before April 1st. Some people could tell it was a hoax, though the majority thought it really was a 'lost' comic company.
Mort collaborated with Jarrett Melendez and Coast City Comics, a comic shop in Portland, Maine, to take the hoax to the next level. The store sent out a press release stating that Mort had found a collection of Zeus titles in a wall during a renovation. He then created mock issues by printing out the covers he had drawn, attaching them to old, yellowed, coverless comics, bagged them in plastic, and then put price stickers on them in excess of $1000 each.
The media took the bait and all the local TV stations came and shot a piece that was broadcast at 6 and 11 without a shred of skepticism. A newspaper called Mort about the story and when he realized it would come out on April 2nd, he gave the paper the exclusive scoop on the hoax and it made the front page.
Mort is actively soliciting publishers to shoot for a Fall 2013 book release when he is scheduled to attend a series of comic conventions. Regardless, COMICS BY ZEUS! (tentative title), an exclusive 48 page book collection of excerpts from the novel and a couple comic book stories will be published for Kickstarter backers starting at a $35 pledge. For $50 the book is autographed and for $125 the cover has an original drawing on a Sketch Cover edition. Future spin-offs after the book release could include a series of comic book or graphic novel releases, and the story of Zeus Comics battle with the government could make a great film or TV series in the vein of a multi-generational saga like The Godfather or a period piece akin to Mad Men.
ZEUS COMICS IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY EXISTING RETAIL STORES BY THAT NAME OR ANY EXISTING DEITY.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Of course, the big challenge is making sure this project gets successfully backed. If you're new to Kickstarter, then you should know that if we don't meet our funding goal by the deadline, we get exactly zero dollars! A full month of waiting and asking friends, family, and strangers for money, all down the tubes. If you're even remotely interested in seeing this project through to the end, even a dollar will help, and a share, a like, a retweet -- anything to help get the word out -- will mean the world to us.
While Mort has already created a lot of material to go into the book, there is a lot more to finish. Mort has completed close to a dozen new covers (which can be seen at the above links) and some interior pages. He plans to create over 60 pages of comics stories to go with the covers (many of the scripts are already written) and expand the historical outline of the Zeus history to a full-fledged book. This will take a few months and Mort will use the funds to help support the creation of these pages and possibly use other artists as well.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.