The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

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Macmillan, Mar 18, 2008 - Comics & Graphic Novels - 434 pages
2 Reviews
In the years between World War II and the emergence of television as a mass medium, American popular culture as we know it was first created--in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. No sooner had this new culture emerged than it was beaten down by church groups, community bluestockings, and a McCarthyish Congress--only to resurface with a crooked smile on its face in Mad magazine.

The story of the rise and fall of those comic books has never been fully told--until The Ten-Cent Plague. David Hajdu's remarkable new book vividly opens up the lost world of comic books, its creativity, irreverence, and suspicion of authority.

When we picture the 1950s, we hear the sound of early rock and roll. The Ten-Cent Plague shows how--years before music--comics brought on a clash between children and their parents, between prewar and postwar standards. Created by outsiders from the tenements, garish, shameless, and often shocking, comics spoke to young people and provided the guardians of mainstream culture with a big target. Parents, teachers, and complicit kids burned comics in public bonfires. Cities passed laws to outlaw comics. Congress took action with televised hearings that nearly destroyed the careers of hundreds of artists and writers.
The Ten-Cent Plague radically revises common notions of popular culture, the generation gap, and the divide between "high" and "low" art. As he did with the lives of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington (in Lush Life) and Bob Dylan and his circle (in Positively 4th Street), Hajdu brings a place, a time, and a milieu unforgettably back to life.
 

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A must read for all comics buffs

User Review  - Chris Y., Asst Buyer - Borders

The Golden Age of Comics is generally thought to have ended in the late 1940s. The Silver Age of Comics started with 1956 with the reintroduction of the Flash in Showcase #4 (DC Comics). So what ... Read full review

The ten-cent plague: the great comic-book scare and how it changed America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Tarnish still lingers on the graphic narrative from anticomics crusades peaking in the 1950s. Remembering the past will hopefully prevent a replay, and this detailed history by Hajdu (Positively ... Read full review

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Contents

Prologue
3
1 Society Iss Nix
9
2 It Was Work
32
3 Crime Pays
53
4 Youth in Crisis
71
5 Puddles of Blood
92
6 Then Let Us Commit Them
112
7 Woofer and Tweeter
132
12 The Triumph of Dr Payn
228
13 What Are We Afraid Of?
245
14 Weve Had It
274
15 Murphys Law
305
16 Out of the Frying Pan and into the Soup
319
Epilogue
331
Appendix
337
Notes
353

8 Love LOVE LOVE
154
9 New Trend
175
10 Humor in a Jugular Vein
193
11 Panic
209
Bibliography
407
Acknowledgments
413
Index
417
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

David Hajdu is the author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. He is the music critic for The New Republic, and he teaches at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

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