Abstract - Graphic Novels
I have found myself to be very interested in the creation, use of and eventual discarding of the Comics Code Authority. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent (1954) hit the nation at a vulnerable time - McCarthyism was at its height, and people were afraid that the United States was being corrupted from the inside out. When the book was published, Wertham took to task the genre as a whole, regarding the violence, sexual innuendo and horror thematic elements to be encouraging children to commit similar acts of amorality. This effectively wiped out some of the most popular types of comics at the time - horror and mystery stories - leaving only a squeaky-clean, bad guys get punished superhero element left. What could have been a crippling blow to the graphic narrative instead encouraged it to thrive, and it ushered in what was known as the Silver Age of Comic books (1956 until the late 1960s or early 1970s.)
Additionally, I want to explore the similarities between the comic book censorship for the second half of the 20th century and the current censorship battle over violence and sexuality in video games, as well as the evolution of certain characters (especially long-term villains) through and beyond the Comics Code Authority's reign. When discussing this with some friends, they have suggested that I should look into the history of the villain The Joker from the DC universe.