Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Josette Frank: Alone Against the Storm, Part 5

     On April 27, 1953, the U.S. Senate established the Senate Special Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Partly in response to public concern and partly as a political stage in an approaching election year, the committee was created in an attempt to determine the causes of youthful criminal activity. The investigation eventually got around to looking at the effect comic books had on this behavior, if any.
    The subcommitte met in room 110 of the Foley Square on April 21, 1954. On the first day of the hearing,  the damning, anecdotal-filled testimony of Dr. Fredric Wertham and William Gaines disastrous appearance before the committee garnered all the headlines. The first witness the next day was a representative of the Child Study Association. But it wasn't Josette Frank, the person who had written more and spoken more in defense of comics who was invited to testify. It was the executive director, Gunnar Dybwad.
       Dybwad was a well-respected sociologist and child-welfare expert who had taken over as director of the CSAA in 1951, several years after most of their comics research had been completed and published. Upon being sworn in, Dybwad reads a prepared statement to the committee outlining his organization's viewpoint on the subject of comic books, emphasizing that their concern had been aimed at providing guidance to parents regarding comic book reading, rather than how comics related to juvenile delinquency specifically.
     Frank's name comes up almost immediately when Dybwad mentions that she first wrote about comic strips in a book back in 1937. This experience was one of the reasons why she was invited by,"one of the large publishers of comics magazines," to be a consultant for them in 1941.

     "I would like to say parenthetically, Miss Frank is only part time on our staff," Dybwad was quick to add.

     While under questioning by Herbert Wilson Beaser, associate chief counsel for the committee, Dybwad offers into evidence the several studies conducted by the CSAA over the years. He is careful to state that the current opinion of the CSAA regarding "crime comics" was different than it was back when these studies were conducted.
     Dybwad takes pains to point out that the CSAA was of the opinion,"that the problems of comics had called for both sociological and physicological [sic] research and for concerted community action."
     "As I pointed out to you, neither one was our function, and it is regrettable that no effective action has been forthcoming from other quarters."
     This call for "community action" seemed to carry a more ominous connotation than the gentler community "influence" Frank had suggested in 1949. If it wasn't apparent at the beginning, it was now. Dybwad was trying to put as much distance between the CSAA and its past comics research as possible.
     Frank and Sidonie Gruenberg are brought up again in regards to several "favorable" articles they had written about comics.
     "If you want to really be fair about the matter," asked Senator Estes Kefauver,"and follow up your testimony here today as to the kind of comics that we are investigating here, the playing baseball with heads, violent murder, cutting off people's heads with an ax, why not get out a report about these instead of just the favorable ones?
     Dybwad replies that Frank had written some criticisms in her 1949 report, which then led Kefauver to dig deeper into Frank's relationship with the CSAA.
    "Miss Frank is no longer on the staff?", asks Kefauver.
    "Oh yes; she is a part-time employee of our organization," replies Dybwad.

     Kefauver wants more. "Who heads up your staff? Who writes the reports?
     "In this particular field this would be Miss Frank," says Dybwad,"because she is the educational associate of our children's book committee."
     "Let us stay with this for a minute," Kefauver presses on,"In other words, this supervising, reading comics and giving the position of the Child Study Association of America as to what effect they have upon children,that is in charge of Miss Frank; is that correct?"
      Dybwad's answers that while Frank does indeed head the staff, the reports are based upon the work of the entire book committee and not her alone. Kefauver doesn't seem satisfied with this answer and he tries to tie the reports to Frank herself. Dybwad reiterates that the reports were the work of the whole book committee. Kefauver is having none of this and gets to the point of his questioning.
     "Anyway, Miss Frank is the head of the staff that handles the comics and places evaluation on them?"
     "That is right," Dybwad agrees.

     Kefauver briefly changes direction. He asks Dybwad about Dr. Lauretta Bender. Dybwad replies with her credentials and mentions that she was one of the people consulted when putting together the studies. Kefauver loses his patience. 
     "Well, we are beating around the bush about this," says the senator, "In the child-study format here you have, and let me read a little part of this which you put out to the children."
     Kefauver then quotes a paragraph form one CSAA publication listing Frank's bona fides, naming her as an educational consultant with the CSAA, but leaving out something else.
     "Why do you not say here that Josette Frank, in addition to being with Child Study Association,is also the consultant on the children's reading, or consultant on the editorial advisory board of Superman, D.C., National Comics, and is paid by the comics-book industry?"
     Dybwad responds with some urgency.
     "Wait a minute, sir. Please don't say that she is paid by the comic-book industry. This is not so. She is paid by a particular comic-book publisher. I want to put this on the record very strenuously which is quite a difference.
     When I work for the Schlitz Brewing Co., I don't work for the beverage industry, I work for one particular company and I may have my good reasons why I work for Schlitz and not for Ballantine."
     Despite Dybwad's colorful example. Kefauver is not so easily dissuaded.
     "I know, but you are giving her credentials here," Kefauver notes, You are giving her good credentials, but you do not say to the parents that are reading this and want to be guided by her that she is also paid by a leading comic-book publisher. Why do you not give both sides of the picture?
     Dybwad had an answer for this, too. 
     "The assumption is that there are both sides to it. Miss Frank has also been a consultant to innumerable book publishers."
     This was a fact. Frank had, for example, suggested to an author the inclusion of minority characters in a story and encouraged the publication of book about the labor movement to another.
     Kefauver also tries to paint Gruenberg the same partisan brush as Frank by citing her lack of condemnation of objectionable comics. He then mentions that Gruenberg, too, had a connection to the comics industry. Dybwad points out that her association (with Fawcett) had been years before and again, she was employed by just that one publisher and not the industry as a whole.
     Kefauver isn't satisfied with Dybwad's answer.
     "Here are two principal people you are using through a find-sounding association, which undoubtedly some good people are members of, feeling they can do some good. Two people you are using in the comic-book field who evaluate comic books, crime and horror books, turn out to be paid or to have been paid by publishers of comic books themselves. Is that not true?
     When Dybwad agrees with Kefauver's statement, the senator drives his point home.
     "If you think that is fair,then that is all I want to know about your association. I think it is traveling under false colors. I think you ought to at least give the fact that these people are paid or have been paid by comic-book publishers. 
     I do not think it is a fair evaluation to leave to parents of children these rather favorable appraisals of horror and comic books written by someone who has been paid by the publishers without you even divulging the fact."
     Kefauver then reads a portion of Wertham's recent book, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, that commented on the connections of Frank, Gruenberg, Bender and others to comics publishers. Kefauver concludes that while he doesn't question the personal integrity of Dybwad,"the opinion of the Child Study Association in the comic book field will have little weight with me."
     Senator Thomas Hennings starts a line of questioning about the contributors to the CSAA. Even though Dybwad agrees to make such a list available to the committee, Hennings doesn't seem satisfied. He implies that the fact that such a list isn't already available means something more.
     "You do not feel, the, sir," asks Hennings, "that your organization is what might be called a front for the publishers of these crime magazines?
     Hennings implication touched on a very sensitive area. Everyone in the hearing room was well aware that the term "front" was frequently applied to a seemingly innocuous organization that hid its benefactors or a shadowy purpose. In the zeitgeist of the Fifties, this suggested the Communists and Dybwad was surely incensed by Hennings use of the word. Not surprisingly, Kefauver agreed with Hennings.
     "So my own observation is that in the field of comics the people you rely upon, three people," Kefauver observed, "and the only ones here I have seen that you base your study on, are Mrs. Gruenberg, who has been in the pay of comic publications; Dr. Bender on the pay of the advisory board, and being paid by one; Miss Josette Frank, who is either being paid or has been paid by the comic books.
     So far as I can see, your comic book section of your child study group is certainly colored by the fact that these people are not working primarily for you. They are working for the comic book publishers."
     Kefauver goes on to say that, "this part of your study is a fraud and a deceit to the public and the public ought to know about it."
     Dybwad's tried to respond by reminding Kefauver about his earlier statement about the findings of the CSAA coming from the work of its Comic Book Committee and not any one person.
     But Kefauver was having none of it. Since all these favorable comics studies were conducted by the CSAA in the past, he asked, "Why do you not get out a study for 1954, and talk about these books?
     My conclusion is that you are not doing this for the reason that your people, and perhaps your association, too, are being paid by the industry itself and that you do not want to criticize, very much, anyway, the crime book industry."
     Dybwad cites the relatively benign nature of the comics published by Frank's employer, National Comics (DC). In an attempt to illustrate his point, he enters the company's editorial code into evidence. He concludes by noting that Frank's name appears in every DC comic, so that the fact she is a consultant is hardly a secret arrangement.
     Hennings wants to know about the fees given to the various comics consultants and whether these fees are turned over to the CSAA. Dybwad says that they were not. Since Frank was was only a part-time CSAA employee, she performed her work for DC on her own time.
     After some back-and-forth regarding the ownership of DC, Dybwad gets to make a point about something that was obviously bothering him. Throughout his questioning, it was repeatedly mentioned that the CSAA comic book surveys were currently being distributed by the organization. As Dybwad pointed out more than once, this was untrue. And he knew the source of this misinformation.
     "I said that most carelessly Mr. Wertham in his book implied that they were being distributed," Dybwad says, while denying Dr.Wertham of his title.
     "Mr. Wertham," claimed Dybwad, "takes stuff out of context" and his book, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, "has not one documented reference of our material". He goes on to call the book, "an entirely unscientific study which is a mockery of research". Considering the respect that Wertham and his book were given in the hearing the previous day, it can be assumed that Dybwad's comments fell on deaf ears.
     In an apparently planned move, Dybwad mentions that it just so happens that on that day, April 22, 1954, Frank's latest book, YOUR CHILDREN'S READING TODAY, was being published. He reads a section of the book wherein Frank takes"irresponsible" comic book publishers to task.  
     "There is no more excuse for licentious publishing in this field than any other," writes Frank, "and it is perhaps either more unconscionable here because it is more available than any other reading matter." But she stops short of calling for any action other than self-regulation by the industry and parental guidance.

     As his testimony is drawing to a close, Dybwad reminds the senators that, "Children today read comics, read them in tremendous numbers, millions of them who never get in trouble." Although he warns against censorship of comic books, Dybwad finishes with a statement at odds with Frank's earlier recommendations, but certain to please all of his inquisitors.
     "But we have felt that community action should be forthcoming, civic action, action through the trade associations, and so on.
     We still feel so today. We still hope that out of this committee's work some new avenues of approach will come which will put a definite stop to the publication and availability of these comics.
     I will say further that that will be a distinct contribution, not just in general to children's welfare, but I would say more specifically that this would be a contribution to the broad approach to delinquency prevention." 1

     Dybwad and the CSAA's board of directors were worried. So much so, that on May 10th, they met and approved a supplementary statement to send to the Senate subcommittee and to release to the press.
     The statement began with the assurance that the CSAA, "heartily endorses the subcommittee's objectives" and then went on to explain the relationships that Gruenberg and Frank had with comic publishers.
     Gruenberg's 10-month tenure with Fawcett establishing editorial criteria is briefly covered. Frank's employment by National (DC) gets much more detail.
     "In 1941, National Comics Publications asked the association to help them to improve their publications and keep them safe for young readers. The board of directors gave this request serious consideration. It then agreed that Miss Josette Frank should accept the major responsibility for working with this publisher. 
     As a part-time member of the association's staff, the board felt that she should be free to make her own arrangements as to fee. 
     The board also decided that the association, working through its total staff, and with the children's book committee, should assume a supervisory relationship to this project. For this service, the association has received $50 monthly.
     The results of this service have justified the board's decision. Miss Frank, in consultation with others, has helped National Comics Publications to improve the quality of their comics. She has helped also to eliminate undesirable advertising in magazines produced by this company." 2

    While the statement goes on to laud the "numerous awards" and recognition DC had received for their public service features, it is the financial information that the subcommittee took most interest in. An addendum to the CSAA statement from a subcommitte investigator revealed that Fawcett Publications had contributed $1,500 to the organization in the mid-1940s, while DC had given $2,500 in the five year period from 1947 to 1952. 3
     Reactions to Dybwad's appearance before the subcommittee were swift and generally not positive.
     One ominous attack the following week came from a source not usually concerned with children's reading as the virulently anti-Communist newsletter, COUNTERATTACK, turned their unwanted gaze upon the Child Study Association.
      "The Child Study Assn was accused of deceiving the public last week because in reports it published on comic books it did not note that some of its experts were in the pay of the comic-book publishers. Sen ESTES KEFAUVER made this accusation before the Senate subcommitte Investigating Juvenile Delinquency.
     Sen KEFAUVER pointed out that Mrs SIDONIE MATSNER GRUENBERG was formerly an adviser for Fawcett Publications and that Dr LAURETTA BENDER and Miss JOSETTE FRANK are now on the advisory editorial board of National Comics Publications. 
      JOSETTE FRANK was billed by the Jefferson School of Social Science, the Communist Party's top open school in the U S, as one of the speakers at its book fair held in Nov. 1948.
      Mrs GRUENBERG, also billed as a speaker by the Jefferson School (in 1946), has a much more impressive record." 4
      Despite the growing animosity toward Communism following WWII, the Child Study Association did indeed maintain a close relationship to the Jefferson School. Founded as a Marxist learning institution in 1944, several staff members of the CSAA taught there, including Gruenberg. For her part, Frank participated in the annual book fairs, speaking on such subjects as "Social Realism in Books for Older Children". These acts were enough for the anonymous author of the article to write that the CSAA's "minimizing" of the "crime and horror book problem" led him to conclude that, "it is apparent that some of the assn's and publishers' advisers make an interesting study in "political" delinquency for the parents they have been advising about children." 5
     The virtually concurrent publication of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT and the Senate hearings made for some convenient commentary. Book reviewer Wolcott Gibbs in the May 8th NEW YORKER magazine, took the occasion of his review of Wertham's book to lash out not only at comic books, but at groups he said opposed legislation limiting sales of comic books in the state of New York. Dybwad took exception to this statement in a private letter to Miraim Coffin dated June 9, 1954.
     "May I say unequivocally that it is an absolute and deliberate falsehood to state that the Child Study Association of America took action to stop legislation in the New York State Assembly designed to curb the sale of the new type of vicious horror and crime comics. While I have been the executive director of the Child Study Association only recently, I have searched our files; I have searched the minutes of our Board; I have interrogated the members of our Board, as well as our staff, and there is nothing on record here at the Association to the effect that we took action as described in Mr. Gibb's article, nor can anyone remember that such action even was contemplated by us."
     Dybwad was frustrated that his protest to the editorial staff of the NEW YORKER went nowhere. He was angered as well by the reception he received when he appeared before the Senate subcommittee.
     "Senator Kefauver, for reasons best known to him, chose to ignore the statement I read in his presence, and suddenly attacked us in the most vicious and slanderous form (including, for instance, specifically an attack on the integrity of our Board of Directors, describing them as a "front"), refusing to let me answer his attacks, and then leaving the hearing room "to go to another appointment"."
     Not mentioned and likely of less concern to Dybwad, was the constant scrutiny and attack upon the character of Josette Frank.
     Frank, however, continued to appear in forums and discussions of "the comics problem".
     In a September 22th memo to Dybwad, Frank gives her impressions of a juvenile delinquency meeting she attended. It also gives some insight into her personal views.
     "I found most of the material at this meeting very stereotyped. The three religious presentations were what one would have had expected--a plea for more spiritual education in the home. There was considerable applause whenever  anyone spoke of the money-earning aspect of the mass media. It seems to be very reprehensible to make money! Yet I am sure all of the speakers would have been horrified at any suggestion that the state take over the entertainment field on a non-profit basis.
     For me, the only bright note in the session was Dr. Charles Glock's presentation of the findings or rather the lack of findings of social research in this field. He quoted the Wolfe-Fiske study with which we are familiar and mentioned several attempts to study the affects of the mass media on children, none of which were conclusive. While conceding that each of us must use his own judgment in relation to his own children, Glock pleaded that no legislation could be based on current prejudices without more knowledge at hand. The audience practically tore him limb from limb. They were not interested in information but in action, no matter what kind."
     Contrary to Dybwad's statements to the subcommittee and to the public at large, Frank still seemed to favor parental guidance of comic book reading over a governmental crackdown on them.

     With the handwriting on the wall, the collective attention of the comic book industry took notice and formed a self-regulating organization to assuage their critics and hopefully stave off any governmental actions.
   On September 16, 1954, the newly-formed Comics Magazine Association of America announced retiring magistrate Charles F. Murphy would take over as the administrator of their Comics Code Authority and its code of ethics at the beginning of October. Beginning later that month, Murphy and his staff of five reviewers began blue-penciling out anything they deemed objectionable based upon the Comics Code standards and the personal opinion of Murphy himself. By December, they boasted they had removed, "5,500 lurid drawings and 126 "unsuitable" stories" from the comics they had reviewed.6
     Such quick implementation of the Comics Code, however, didn't immediately result in a cease fire. Dr. Wertham penned one more scathing article a year after the Senate subcommittee hearings. Dramatically titled, "It's Still Murder", the piece goes after the, "parents, educators, doctors, child psychologists, moral teachers, and religious leaders," who, in Wertham's belief, "permitted good children to be exposed to this kind of reading,".  Including, apparently, the U.S. Senate itself.
     "The Kefauver Senate Committee to investigate organized crime whitewashed the crime comic book industry," Wertham charged, "The Hendrickson Senate Subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, although admitting that many comic books "stress sadistic degeneracy," also specifically rejects legislation." 7

     And most emphatically, he goes after the Comics Code Authority.
     "Seven months ago--more than half a year--it [the comic book industry] proclaimed that it was appointing a commissioner with full authority to apply a code of ethics," Wertham then asks, "Has anything resembling  the vaunted clean-up actually taken place?" 8
     Despite his continuing outrage, more and more people began seeing cracks in Wertham's crusade against comics.
     In a review of Wertham's latest book, THE CIRCLE OF GUILT, social historian Albert Deutsch points out how the psychiatrist can't leave the topic of, "the menace of crime comic books", alone.
     "Some of us have criticized Wertham's tendency to exaggerate the comic-book evil out of all proportion, to the point of presenting it as the one great cause of delinquency," writes Deutsch.
     "This is, of course, arrant nonsense. To say that delinquency may result from multiple factors by no means implies frustration or inaction; it means that the problem must be tackled on many fronts...". 9
     The enactment of the Comics Code also rendered unnecessary the need for National's Editorial Advisory Board. Frank still spoke before parent-teacher groups and the topic of comics was usually discussed, but the controversy was waning. The editorial oversight of the Comics Code Authority had had its desired effect.
     "So successful has the [Comic Code] Authority's work been that the Fall 1960 edition of the NODL newsletter, official publication of the National Organization for Decent Literature, declared it could find no comics which were "objectionable for youth"."
     By the end of the Fifties, with the furor largely subsided, the Comic Book Committee of the CSAA quietly went away.

     Both Dr. Wertham and Josette Frank were appalled by the worst in comic books. Wertham could see nothing else, Frank saw that they could be much more. In the end, Wertham squandered all his credibility on an unswerving vendetta he tried to validate with skewed and faked research. He is remembered for his excesses and ultimately, damned by them.
     Josette Frank left the comics behind, and turned her attention to a newer medium accused of many of the same sins--television. And she always had her children's books. That was her interest and where her legacy lay. She passed away on September 9, 1989 at the age of 96.
     In 1997, Bankstreet College of Education re-named its Children's Book Award as the Josette Frank Award, given annually to the outstanding achievement in literature in which children are shown to grow emotionally and morally as they deal with difficulties in a positive and realistic way.

All quotations to this point: U. S. Senate, Hearings Before the Subcommitte to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, pp. 119-145, (1954).

"Study Body  Tells of Help to Comics", NEW YORK TIMES, May 19, 1954.

U. S. Senate, op. cit., pg. 136.

American Business Consultants, "Comic Adviser has a Not so Comical Background", COUNTERATTACK, (1954).
5  Ibid.

6   "Lurid Drawings Ruled Out in Crackdown on Comics", SCHENECTADY GAZETTE, Dec. 29, 1954.

7   Wertham, Fredric, "It's Still Murder", THE SATURDAY REVIEW, pg. 11, (April 9, 1955).


9   Deutsch, Albert, "What Makes a Boy Bad?", THE SATURDAY REVIEW, pg. 25, (Oct. 20,1956).

10  Tebbel, John, "Who Says the Comics are Dead?", THE SATURDAY REVIEW,  pg. 44, (Dec. 10, 1960).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Josette Frank: Alone Against the Storm, Part 4

     Once again he was testifying as an psychiatric expert, this time in an obscenity trial. He had appeared as a defense witness for a murderous cannibal, an Oedipally-wrought, matricidal teenager and now on the side of a nudist magazine publisher.
     Ilsley Boone, a Baptist minister from Mays Landing, New Jersey, was founder of the American Sunbathing Association and editor of its monthly magazine, SUNSHINE AND HEALTH. The magazine had long been a target of the U.S. Post Office which sought to restrict its distribution through the mails. In 1944, Boone was arrested and eventually indicted in 1945. This led to a protracted trial, during which Dr. Fredric Wertham was called on behalf of the defense.
     Wertham was of the opinion that the magazine was not pornographic, that instead, true obscenity was being published in comic books, several of which he reportedly produced as visual aides while testifying.1 With this dramatic flourish, the psychiatrist took his personal vendetta against comics public. And the media was happy to indulge his crusade.
     Josette Frank was apparently listening to WNBC and the John K. M. McCaffery radio program, Author Meets the Critics, when she was inspired to write a letter.

January 23, 1948

Dear Dr. Wertham,

      I was greatly interested in your presentation this morning on the McCaffrey [sic] program concerning comic books and particularly in your statement that "99 % of the comics" contain obscene material.
     I am wondering whether you would be good enough to let me know where I can locate the data on which this is based. It is certainly a very frightening figure to give parents and ought to be substantiated by sound data.
     As you possibly know, I have been interested and concerned with comic books for a number of years as part of my work in the field of children's reading. I have done considerable work with them and I thought I knew them pretty well, but it seems evident that you have made some studies or have access to data which I do not have and would like to study.
     For the past year or so I have been concerned, as you are, about the growing number of new comic books with a sex interest. These are certainly an aberration of the earlier content of both comic books and comic strips. I should have guessed, roughly, without any careful tabulation that they comprise a fairly small percentage (though still too many) of the total number of some 250 titles on the news stands. I am amazed at the figure you find.
    Will you be good enough to let me know the basis on which this conclusion was arrived at?

And the January 28th reply.

Dear Miss Frank:

      Thank you for your letter. Dr. Wertham and his associates have been interested for some time in the question of comic books and related subjects. He wishes me to let you know that none of his data have been published as yet.
     I might add that in examining the transcript of Dr. Wertham's remarks on the McCaffery program I do not notice at any point the word "obscene".

Sincerely yours,
T. B. Foster

     If Frank was upset by Wertham's attack (and dismissive reply), then she was clearly frustrated by the Town Hall Meeting of the Air broadcast of March 2nd.

March 10, 1948

Dear Ed:

      Thank you for your very helpful contribution to my knowledge via the letter to Miss Mannes. I am sure it did me more good than it did her.
     I hope you at least enjoyed your research because I greatly fear that your enjoyment was the only fruits you will have from it! From my brief observation of Miss Mannes I doubt that she is open to learning.

     Frank's brief note to Edwin Lukas, Executive Director of the Society for Crime Prevention, conveyed her exasperation with what they had both witnessed.
     They were in the audience when a panel comprised of drama critic John Mason Brown, writer Marya Mannes, cartoonist Al Capp and publisher George Hecht debated "What's Wrong with the Comics?". 
      As is often the case in such forums, the debate consisted mostly of unswerving points of view with little to no consideration of the other side.
     Befitting his profession, Brown led off with a dramatically haughty attack on comics that contained the infamously invective, "Most comics, as I see them, are the marijuana of the nursery! They are the bane of the bassinet! They are the horror of the home, the curse of the kids and a threat to the future!".
     Hecht lauded the virtues of "good" comics and quoted Frank by name to support his view. He went on to extol the potential of comic books as a learning tool and was followed by Mannes, who conversely denounced comics for stunting intellectual growth, "...comics kill the imagination", reiterating a claim she had written about the year before in a THE NEW REPUBLIC article attacking comics.
     "Though there is no palpable evidence to support the following statement," observed Mannes in her article, "it is at least reasonable to assume that just as the childhood use of tobacco can stunt the growth of the body, so can the excessive reading of comics stunt the stature of the mind." 2  Like many of comics' critics, Mannes didn't let lack of scientific evidence stand in the way of her opinion.
     Capp skewered Brown and like-minded critics with a satirical scenario wherein a father seeking to ban his son from reading comics is flustered as he realizes that each of his preferred reading choices for the boy--newspapers, Oliver Twist and Shakespeare--are rife with violence and sex.
     After a bit more barbed repartee and posturing by the panelists, a microphone was passed among the audience for questions. It's quickly evident that the audience had among its number several well-known cartoonists, well-spoken children and a strong showing of comic book defenders.
     The first questioner was a woman from the CSAA who posed a query to Brown as did Charles Biro, editor of Lev Gleason Publications' much reviled, CRIME DOES NOT PAY. Frank's correspondent, Ed Lukas, asked Mannes if she thought comics contributed to juvenile delinquency; a correlation she denied making.
      Frank's turn came and she directed her question to Brown. She confronted him with a quote from a piece he wrote for his column, Seeing Things, in a recent issue of the SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE.
      "Mr. Brown, in the February 14th issue of the SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE you wrote a charming article on a little trip you took with your children, a cultural trip I believe, to a museum to show them a tapestry and found surprisingly, to you, that they were only interested in the murderous ones. And what you said, may I quote your words:  
     "To the young, suffering is almost unimaginable, death is inconceivable. Pain is not real to them. Violence is. And this, quite naturally, they see as an expression of vigor, a manifestation of health and adventure."
     Now I would like to ask you, in view of the fact that in the hands of responsible comic publishers, this is what is done in the comics, how does it happen, in so short a time, you have changed your mind?"
     Brown artfully sidesteps her question, denying that he had changed his mind, averring that he was always against the wholesale bloodlust of the comics.
     Even though it was couched in pomposity, it was evident that the level of opposition to comic books had entered a new phase. The earlier, relatively genteel arguments centering around the readability of comics had given way to a more serious, more urgent charge that they contributed to delinquent behavior. Bolstered by the supposed clinical evidence cited by Wertham, comics' opponents sharpened their attacks.
     Suspicious of such "evidence", Lukas looked to his own research. At first blush, he seemed to be an odd ally for Frank. As a criminologist and the head of an organization devoted to crime prevention, it figured Lukas would side with those who found an easy demon in comic books. However, he eschewed this convenient answer by assigning blame to a source that many didn't want to hear. "The way to prevent crime is to prevent the criminal," he said. "I have talked to hundreds of adult criminals and I don't know of one who felt that when he was a child he was loved and wanted by his parents."  3
     In a March 3rd letter to Mannes following the Town Hall Meeting broadcast (and the letter referenced by Frank in her note), he painstakingly laid out his case in favor of comics by discussing the relevance of psychological "sublimation" (the change of a socially unacceptable behavior into a socially acceptable form) cited by Mannes in her 1947 article and his resulting conclusion.
     "All of which brings me to the point of suggesting that in comics, children find outlets for their naturally aggressive tendencies," Lukas wrote, "If you prefer to call that sublimation (it might also be called a form of expression) then I can't imagine why you should consider it harmful; the sense in which you use the word might also be interpreted to mean that it is good for the child (as healthy sublimation always is). On the other hand, if your use of the word was intended to imply that it is harmful to sublimate in this way, then--as my question last night implied--I merely ask for proof which you may have (which all of us seem to lack) that reading comics has in itself produced any harmful emotional disturbances in children."
      But the battle wouldn't end with a well-reasoned letter. In fact, the battle was about to get far nastier.

April 27, 1948

Dear Bob:  

      Herewith I am sending my expense account for the Atlantic City conference.
     I found the conference very worthwhile from several points of view. The whole field of social work is, of course, enlarging its viewpoint to take in family problem relating to such subjects as comics, radio, etc. The high spot of the conference for me was, of course, the final discussion on these subjects. You and your confreres will, I am sure, be interested to know that of the whole panel content of this meeting, see Page 25 of the program herewith, the only questions, which were asked at the end of the panel presentations, were on the subjects of comics. Since my presentation in this panel had to do with children's books and since Dr. Sones was representing comics there, I waited to see how the discussion was going. It was interesting to find that three people le[a]pt to the defence [sic] of comics--Dr. Sones (of course), Dr. Zorburgh and Dr. Luther Woodward of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. This was pretty imposing array of volunteers! However, the chairman then specifically asked me to make a statement so I entered into it, but there was really no opposition. I found this astounding and I knew you would be interested.

     Frank's letter to Bob Maxwell was surprisingly optimistic given the growing furor over comics, but it was also indicative of the fact that there was still a true debate. At this point, comic book defenders could counter Dr. Wertham with their own licensed professionals.
     In the Spring 1948 issue of  CHILD STUDY, Frank interviewed several psychiatrists and psychologists for their opinions on the effects of comics and other media upon children. Perhaps not surprisingly, among the interviewees were Frank's fellow DC Advisory Board members, Dr. Lauretta Bender and Dr. S. Harcourt Peppard, and Dr. Katherine M. Wolf, a noted psychologist who had previously conducted her own comics study and written a well-regarded article generally absolving comic books of harmful effects.
     "Does blood and thunder in children's entertainment create or increase their fears?," asked Frank in the opening paragraph.4

      Dr. Bender's perspective was that it depended upon the media and the imagery the children were presented with.
     "Children are fascinated by the Frankenstein monster because it personifies their own fantasies of growing  into power. It therefore becomes frightening to them," suggested Bender, "perhaps they could do these terrible things, or their parents could! Frankenstein personifies their own capacity to let go of impulses to destroy and its therefore threatening. The Superman figure is the reverse of this, an opportunity to identify with good deeds. He is benevolent and loving and upholds a moral code. Children are frightened by the absence of controls. Clearly they want restraint--they want a moral ceiling on what they might conceivably do." 5
     Further on, Bender states that much of what children find in comics, "deals with their own unconscious fantasies," a positive effect, in her point of view.

     "Comics constitute experience with activity, motility, movement. Their heroes overcome time and space. This gives children a sense of release rather than fear." 6
      Wertham, Bender's colleague at Bellvue Hospital, clearly disagreed.
      On April 8, he had appeared as a defense witness once again, this time on the side of the publisher of the scandalous novel, THE GILDED HEARSE. The book was facing obscenity charges brought against it by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and Wertham was called to counter the charge.
     As he had in the SUNSHINE AND HEALTH case, Wertham produced a copy of a comic book, TRUE CRIME COMICS #2 (May 1947) and referenced a page from the Jack Cole illustrated story, "Murder, Morphine and Me".
     "These comic books, very many of them, like the one I have here, depict sadism. That is to say, violence in relation to sex. This particular book," said Wertham, singling out a panel, "shows a man jabbing a hypodermic needle into the right eye of a young blonde girl. I think that can only have two effects on young people: either it would cause anxiety -- even to adults who look at it; or it makes them completely obtuse to sympathy and to any kind of human feeling about inflicting pain or suffering on other people, especially a girl. And I think that this kind of picture would have a very deleterious effect on adolescents and children." 7 As he had in the earlier case, Wertham saw censorship of adult literature as unnecessary, but for children he suggested it be mandatory.
     Just a month earlier, on March 19, Wertham had put together a  psychotherapy symposium dryly entitled, The Psychopathology of Comic Books.While the symposium itself may have been largely intended for a specifically professional assemblage, its content reached a wider audience.
     Wertham, as the symposium organizer, had invited An abstract of the presentations by each were published in the July issue of the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHOTHERAPY, while Wertham's own words were presented in an extended form in the March 29th SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE. The resulting article, entitled, "The Comics--Very Funny!", laid out Wertham's arguments bolstered by his claimed clinical research. Even though this article was widely read and cited, Frank was not the only skeptical observer.
     Norbert Muhlen, writing in the January 1949 issue of COMMENTARY magazine, questioned Wertham's methodology in linking comic books to juvenile delinquency. Wertham took umbrage at this and responded to Muhlen in a letter to the editor in a subsequent COMMENTARY.
    "Dr. Muhlen misquotes me," asserted Wertham, "He attributes to me the statement that "the increase in juvenile delinquency has gone hand in hand with the distribution of comic books. That is not what I wrote. What I did write (in the same article in the Saturday Review) is that:  "The increase of violence in juvenile delinquency has gone hand in hand with the increase in the distribution of comic books. That is something very different." 8
     Immediately following was Muhlen's reply.
     "Whether the subject of violence is or is not one of the most important problems of our time, it certainly is the basic problem of comic books," Muhlen wrote, in partial agreement with Wertham.
     "As a matter of fact, the very conclusion of my article was that mass entertainment by violence tends to become the child's education to violence."
     "I disagreed, however, with Dr. Wertham's often-repeated opinion that "comic-book reading was a distinct influencing factor in the case of every single delinquent or disturbed child we studied."
     Not to mention that Muhlen had problems with Wertham's clinical "proof".
     "While preparing my article, I asked Dr. Wertham to give me an opportunity to let me see the case material on which his opinions are based. Dr. Wertham replied that "it is physically impossible for us to comply with [such a request].""
     "Without access to his materials," Muhlen wrote, "I based my conclusion on my own socio-statistical deduction that his charges against comic books are not verifiable and not corresponding to the facts." 9

     Despite their lack of substantiation, Wertham's claims were repeated by an increasing array of acolytes. Among the first was writer Judith Crist, who in the March 27, 1948, COLLIER'S magazine provided an agreeable forum for Wertham's attack on comics and those he perceived as the main culprits dissuading the publishers from "cleaning house".
     Crist wrote that Wertham blamed not the publishers, artists or writers, whom he offered the backhanded exoneration, "it's their way of earning a living--one that incidentally earns them a fat margin of profit."
     "The major responsibility, Dr. Wertham believes, lies with the mental-hyigene associations, child-study committees, child-care councils and community child welfare groups," wrote Crist, "So far most of these organizations have been silent on the subject or they have frankly or apologetically endorsed comic books." 10
     Wertham, via Crist, had made it very clear that he considered the Child Study Association as a main apologist for the comic industry. This fact, along with the onslaught of public condemnation of comics in the wake of his attacks, necessitated a response. A response that was referenced by CSAA director Sidonie Gruenberg in a June 28th letter to Fawcett Publications editorial director, Ralph Daigh.
     "The whole question of the comics is, as you say, very much before the public and the Child Study Association is planning another survey of the present status of the comics."
     The formal announcement of the survey in the Fall 1948 issue of CHILD STUDY laid out its purpose and the challenges it faced.
     "The enormous growth in the publication of comics books in recent years--an increase both in number and in variety--poses some difficult problems for parents," wrote co-authors Katie Hart and Flora Straus, "The current hysteria, ranging from sensational journalism to police censorship, has certainly offered them no help in the solution of these problems. On the contrary, it has served to add to their confusion and to intensify their anxiety. Nothing could be less conductive to constructive thinking or more disturbing to sound parent-child relationships than anxiety and confusion."
     "With a view to offering some practical basis for parental guidance in this almost universal problem, the Children's Book Committee of the Child Study Association is gathering and classifying about two hundred of the comics books currently displayed on the newsstands." 11
    As head of that committee, Josette Frank would oversee its conduct and ultimately write its conclusions. One problem that Frank faced with the uncomfortable fact that this survey would undoubtedly include comics which she would find indefensible.
     The announcement of the survey was met with a flood of requests from concerned individuals, educators, PTAs and librarians asking for copies of it upon its completion. Others offered their own surveys as a help.
     "I am making a study of comic book reading in my 6B class at Oxford School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio," wrote one teacher, "I have found the children on the whole are interested most in the Mickey Mouse style, but I am eager to know what conclusions your committee have arrived at relative to this type of comic books as well as the deadly crime comics that occupy part of the group."
     Not surprisingly, there were parties with a more vested interest in the CSAA study.
     "We are intensely interested in knowing when the Child Study Association's newest study of comic magazines will be available," wrote Robert D. Wheeler of the Premium Group of Comics in a November 18th letter to Frank.
     "Also I wanted to tell you about the much discussed "McGuire Report" prepared in New Orleans. Perhaps you already know about it, but if not, you would find it extremely interesting. Mr. David McGuire is Assistant to the Mayor of New Orleans. He prepared a 49-page study of comics, in relation to New Orleans problems. Without agreeing in all respects with Mr. McGuire's report, I must say that it is a remarkable piece of work., distinguished both by the effort which went into obtaining facts and by well-balanced judgment."
     Frank's reply five days later thanked Wheeler for his recommendation of the McGuire report and finished with an inquiry.
     "Am I correct in understanding that you still have not joined the Association? I am very much interested in this whole situation, for it presents many problems," she wrote.
     Frank was referencing the recently formed comic book industry group, the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP). The group had been announced with much ballyhoo in July, 1948, along with its six-point code of ethics. A January 18, 1949, press release detailed the program.
     "Completion of plans for the first organized effort at self-regulation in the comics magazine industry was announced today by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers.
     Comics magazines of publishers willing to subscribe to the comics code are now being screened under the new process, under the personal supervision of Henry E. Schultz, Executive Director of the Association.
     Non-members, as well as members of the Association, are eligible to apply for and receive permission to sue the seal, certifying conformance to the comics code on an equal basis, it was announced.
     "Non-members have been welcomed to participate in the self-regulatory process," Mr. Phil Keenan, President of the Association, said, "All publishers must submit drawings and manuscripts prior to publication to the Schultz office, if they wish to be considered for use of the seal"
     Mr. Schultz disclosed that all comics magazine publishers have been notified that they may apply for the use of the seal. Wholesale distributors throughout the United States have also been informed of the Association's action, he added.
     Fees for the screening service of the Schultz office, are based upon print orders. The fee system for the review is employed in the motion picture industry, where productions are screened under a code, Mr. Schultz explained.
     "We are going to review free of charge any magazine that has a planned print order of less than 250,000 copies", Mr. Schultz added. "The reason for this is that we want to leave publishers free of all financial burdens, so far as screening is concerned, if they are starting in business or trying a first issue of a publication."
     Comics magazines of larger circulation bring in adequate revenue to permit nominal charges for review, he added.
     In connection with the announcement, Mr. Keenan made the following statement:
     "All publishers who subscribe to the Code are making a conscientious effort to raise standards of their magazines and meet all reasonable requirements. We know that the first magazines that appear with the seal will represent careful and sincere effort by their publishers. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that this is the first organized effort at self-regulation and our first direct step  forward. We, therefore, realized that there may be imperfections in the initial stage of our program.
     "We look for continued improvement and refinement of our publications as we gather experience in this work. We are in the same position, as an infant organization, that the motion picture industry was in twenty years ago. We are confident that this first test will be met by publishers honestly an that they will cooperate in continual efforts to raise standards."

     The ACMP was formed as a response to those who called for a self-policing body to regulate editorial content in comics.The code adopted by the ACMP was reminiscent of the editorial code DC had been utilizing since 1941.
     The membership of the group itself was problematic. While it did have several large distributors along with such notable publishers as Lev Gleason and Max Gaines son William among its number, it was lacking not only Premium's membership, but that of other major publishers.
     "You are correct in believing that we have not joined the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers," wrote Wheeler in his December 2nd response to Frank, "We have subscribed to the Association's code, and we believe that Mr. Phil Keenan, President, and Mr. Henry Schultz, Executive Director, have been doing some good work. Some of the strongest and best edited comics publications are not affiliated with the Association--notably the Superman D-C group! I should like to see one strong association in the industry, and should be glad to support it when we have evidence that we can enter it and be in the company of those publishers whose editorial policies most closely resemble our own."
     Wheeler had touched upon one of the issues plaguing the comics industry group. The largest publishers--DC, Fawcett and Dell--didn't belong to the ACMP since they assumed they were relatively immune to most of the criticism directed toward comics. Still, DC was sensitive to the negative publicity surrounding comic books and looked to get in front of any criticism aimed their way by taking out a full page ad in the September 11, 1948, edition of THE SATURDAY REVIEW. Though not credited, it can be surmised that the text of the ad went by Frank at some point before publication.
     After detailing at some length the good works associated with Superman and the moral benefits attributable to comics, the text makes a special effort to separate DC from other comic publishers.
     "As publishers of one of the largest groups of comics magazines, we cannot pretend to defend the context of all comics magazines. Whenever proper restrictions in publishing for the young audience are not consistently observed, the magazines warrant criticism."  12

     This paragraph appeared in  italics so that no reader would miss its significance. It also  immediately precedes a self-congratulatory section trumpeting its,"obligation to publish nothing harmful to the sensibilities and moral values of children," and its long-established Editorial Advisory Board.
     Without the membership of DC and the other major players, and the lack of any enforcement powers, the ACMP was a toothless organization doomed to failure. Not insignificantly, certain members of the group who hoped to find cover behind its seal, helped it to its inevitable end by routinely ignoring their own code.
     It can be supposed the Wheeler's previous enthusiasm for the McGuire report was tempered somewhat when early in 1949, it resulted in the appointment of a supervisory committee to oversee the sale of comic books in New Orleans. McGuire claimed to have found a third of the surveyed comics to be, "offensive, objectionable and undesirable".
     "The women of the comic books generally stand out in two groups," McGuire explained, "Lithe, attractive, bosomy creatures who wear form-fitting clothes, and lithe, attractive, bosomy creatures who wear little or nothing."  13

     Early in 1949, Frank organized yet another debate on the issue of comics. Among the panelists was Dr. Bender and several local educators. Among the audience was Edwin Lukas.
     Although Frank hoped for a discussion of differing viewpoints that would be, "lively and controversial", the reality was anything but.
     "I thought last night's meeting," wrote Lukas to Frank on February 15th, "failed to serve the purpose you may have had in mind. Conflict for its own sake is not very helpful in resolving issues; but conflict, for the purpose of attracting an audience which is not already converted to an enlightened point of view, helps clarify many confusing issues. The comics have been exposed to a good deal of confusion in thinking, and only through the sharply etched contrast of opposed points of view can that confusion be partially dissipated."
     He found no argument from Frank.
     "I quite agree with everything you said," she wrote in her March 10 reply, "For some reason this meeting seemed to be jinxed from the very start in its planning...".
     "We had counted too, very heavily on Dr. Siepmann to inject some of the controversial issues and to raise more response from the audience. While we did not try to have a knock-down drag out fight, we did expect to have much more controversy than appeared in the discussion."
     Frank had encountered a developing aspect of the comics debate. Both opponents and proponents of comics found certain material within the books to be objectionable. There was real anxiety over the increase in perceived sexual and violent content and even the staunchest allies of comic books were troubled by some of what they saw. Not every defender of comics was a fan of the medium. The disagreement came in how this material affected children, to what degree and most importantly, in how to address it. Sometimes, it was difficult to find much distance in opposing points of view, which made for tepid debates.

     Frank began her public affairs pamphlet, COMICS, RADIO, MOVIES--AND CHILDREN, with a brief history and an acknowledgment of the popularity of comics books. But this wasn't the purpose of this booklet and she soon got to the crux of the controversy.
     While she found that most comics fell into the same genres as their predecessors, Frank noted that there were, "an increasing number of highly unsavory crime and horror stories, many of them sadistic and full of sex excitement, whose covers scream with lurid pictures, often promising more murder or more sex interest than their pages inside offer." 14
     The quality of comics varied widely in Frank's estimation. So, too, did the editorial oversight of art and grammar. Some comics, though, had an advantage.
     "A few of the leading publishers of comics magazines maintain advisory boards of educators and psychiatrists who pass upon their material from the point of view of its suitability for children and who have set up standards for guidance in this respect," 15she wrote without a hint of her own involvement in such an arrangement.
     "What is the fascination of the comics? Probably the greatest common ingredient," Frank suggested, "is action".
     "Children like things to happen, and in comics they do, fast and furiously. The very first page, even the cover, offers a sort of preview of things to come. And from the very outset there is never a dull moment. Even the gentler types of comics never let the reader down, but maintain a swift pace from beginning to end."  16
     Children, she assessed, loved comics since they provided, "a reflection of their own fantasies. Identifying themselves with the hero or villain, they are in there punching. They fancy themselves strong and invincible, able to overcome the limitations of time and space, defending the weak and routing evil." 17
     As in classic folk tales, which she had noted and written about many years before, "children may find release for pent-up feelings of hate, anger, fear, and aggression." This was a view condemned by Wertham; a fact Frank directly confronted.
     "Nor is there any basis in fact for the current news headlines which blame comics for children's delinquent acts, or for reckless claims that they have caused a rise in juvenile crime. Certainly we cannot accept at its face value the plea of a frightened child, hoping to please the judge by his "reasons", that he committed his crime because he "saw it in the comics" or "in the movies". Yet such confessions have been quoted as "proof" of the damage wrought by comics." 18
     Frank quotes Wertham from his SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE article wherein he attempted to trace the murder of a policeman by a young man with the observation, "Is that so astonishing when he can see anywhere a typical comic-book cover showing a man and a woman shooting it out with the police?".
     Frank responds.
     "The causes of crime are not so simple! Children have always done dangerous things, damaging themselves and others. They do not know why they are driven to behave as they do. We shall not cure the causes of this juvenile behavior by blaming it on their reading, or on the radio, or the movies. It lies much deeper, in our society's failure to meet the basic needs of these children." 19
     She follows with agreeing quotes from Edwin Lukas and a psychiatrist. Frank observes that the presence of violence in comics reflected, "the desire of a large number of people, including children, to read about crime and violence. This is nothing new. The greatest literature of all time--Shakespeare, Homer, even the classic fairy tales--abounds in violent deeds." 20
     This observation, though, was followed with the more sensitive effect that comics may have on childhood fears. Frank cites an earlier piece she wrote which quoted Dr. Lauretta Bender among others whom all agreed upon moderation when it came to exposing children to any medium. They all stressed, "the importance of knowing each child's vulnerability and "tolerance point" for this kind of excitement." 21
     Frank found some common ground with comics' critics.
     "All children, even the hardiest, should be protected from the type of comics magazines whose pages drip with horror and blood." 22
     This statement reflected the tightrope walk Frank was attempting. While she could rationally argue away Wertham's most outrageous attacks upon comics, she had her own misgivings. From her earliest days working on DC's editorial policy, to her complaints about Wonder Woman, Frank had battled against egregious violence, torture and sexism. Thanks in no small measure to her input, DC for the most part had been able to stay above the fray, Wonder Woman not withstanding.
     Over time, though, Frank had become the face of comic book advocacy. All comic books. In response to this increasingly difficult position, in her writings, in her many appearances and debates, her defense of comics became more nuanced and selective.


     Frank's letter dated February 15, 1949, was in response to a request for a list of approved comics. It also detailed the challenges presented in conducting the comic book survey being conducted by the CSAA.
      "In answer to your inquiry I am afraid that we cannot yet give you the specific information about comics books which you want," Frank wrote. "For several months our Comics Book Committee have [sic] been reading and trying to evaluate the various comics magazines which are on the market with a view to evolving criteria which would be helpful to parents. Whether from this study we will be able to prepare a list of specific titles which are harmful or the reverse, is still not decided.
     "There are many difficulties in the way of preparing such a list--for example, the ephemeral nature of the medium itself--one would have to approve or condemn a particular issue of these monthly magazines which the following month might not conform to the same standard. There is too, the difficulty that we cannot find any unified opinion as to what is and what is not harmful or desirable in these magazines. We are working on this problem now and trying to formulate criteria for such judgments."
     It would be some months, but in the Fall 1949 issue of CHILD STUDY, Frank made her presentation of the comic book survey. She led off with a statement that nearly everyone could agree upon.
     "Anyone who is concerned with children and their reading must, at some point, consider the problem of the comics. No matter what else they read, or whether they read anything else at all, most children in America read comics." 23
     She followed with a summary of the concerns generally expressed over comic reading.
     "Many parents have watched with misgivings, and some bewilderment, the growth of this reading among boys and girls of all ages and all levels of intelligence and economic background. They have feared the inroads of this kind of "picture-reading" on their children's ability and desire to read more challenging books, its effects on the development of their tastes and appreciation of literature and art. They have deplored the low level of vulgarity and sensationalism to which some of the so-called "comics" magazines have resorted for their appeal. They are concerned about the possible effects on impressionable youngsters of so much pictured violence." 24
     In one paragraph, Frank outlined virtually every argument being used by the enemies of comic books. Such arguments had elicited a number of requests, "from parents and teachers for a list of "approved" comics". After noting both "some welcome" and "regrettable" changes in comics since the previous survey in 1943, Frank devoted the rest of her article, entitled "Looking at the Comics--1949", to determining what constituted a "good" comic book.
     She stated that, "the Committee believes there are certain basic essentials to look for in all comics magazines, certain earmarks by which to recognize good comics publications and to guide the children toward discriminating choices." 25
     In their determination, comic covers, "should be clean-cut, uncluttered and not overly sensational" and story content, "should be plausibly motivated and valid, if they deal with reality, imaginative if they deal with fantasy".    
     "Relationships," she wrote, "between people should be sound and human, especially family relationships. Stereotypes should be avoided, especially those of minority groups. The ideology of "good" characters and of the plot should carry a sense of social responsibility--respect for constituted authority, democratic principles of living, ethical and moral concepts of behavior." 26
     This statement concisely summarized not only Frank's personal beliefs, the larger beliefs of the Ethical Culture movement, but the beliefs she had been trying to infuse into comics (particularly Superman) since the beginning of her involvement with them.
     "They [comics] are in process of change," Frank concluded, "some of it good, some in the wrong direction. We believe the community, by its own awareness of values and standards, can influence the direction of this change--not by censorship and imposed "regulation" but by a process of education and selection. There is no need to "reform" out of them those elements which seem to give them such appeal for children."  27


     In 1949, the New York legislature took up the matter of comic books and convened a committee to study them. Although created as a fact-finding body, the committee essentially became a soapbox for Wertham and other comics detractors. One prominent publisher appearing before it in December, 1951, vented his frustration.
     "I have gained the impression that the committee is unfair," stated Lev Gleason, "biased against a great American industry--comic magazine publishing--and perhaps itself the innocent victim of career charlatans."
     "This committee's report of previous hearings disparaged the reputation, integrity and competence of those who testified in favor of comic magazines and of the comic industry, yet gave highest praise to those who criticized the comics and the industry."  28
     Gleason had been at the forefront of the comics controversy for a while. His company had imposed a list of self-censorship rules in early 1948 and he had served as first president of the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers. While others in the comic book industry hoped to avoid the glare of publicity, Gleason made efforts to present comics in a positive light.
     Speaking at the November, 1951, roll-out of his new comic aimed at the three-to-eight age bracket, UNCLE CHARLIE'S FABLES, Gleason cited the influence of psychologists and educators on the publication of the book and quoted Josette Frank personally.
     "One must regret that comic magazines have," she said, "in some respects, missed their opportunity for giving children more than they do."
     "The comic magazine has a high potential value not only because its form is so acceptable to children but because it can be timely and contemporary in a way books cannot. Here, perhaps, more effectively than anywhere else, we can find an opportunity to give children forward looking attitudes, ideas and ideals around the world they live in."  29

     For her part, Frank continued to appear on panel discussions, P.T.A. meetings and radio programs discussing her writings on comics and the media. One of her primary connections to comics terminated with the end of the Superman radio show on March 1, 1951. She remained as part of the DC editorial advisory board, but that, too, would cease as a result of certain events.

Gilbert, James, A CYCLE OF OUTRAGE, pg. 98, (1986).
Mannes, Marya, "Junior Has a Craving", THE NEW REPUBLIC, pg. 20-23, (Feb. 27, 1947).

Boyle, Hal, "Society Develops Plan for Prevention of Crime", KENTUCKY NEW ERA, April 13, 1948.

Frank, Josette, "Chills and Thrills in Radio, Movies and Comics", CHILD STUDY, pg. 42 (Spring 1948).
5  Ibid.

6   Ibid., pg. 44.

Dr. Fredric Wertham testimony in  Harry Kahan vs. Creative Age Press, Jame E. Reibman introduction footnote #17, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, (1999 ed.).

 Letters to the Editor, "Violence in the Comics", COMMENTARY, (Feb. 1, 1949).


10  Crist, Judith, "Horror in the Nursery", COLLIER'S, pg. 97, (March 27, 1948).

11  Hart, Katie and Straus, Flora, "Children's Books", CHILD STUDY, pg. 118, (Spring 1948).

12  National Comics Publications, "A million young people will be better citizens...", THE SATURDAY REVIEW, pg. 4, (Sept. 11, 1948).

13  "New Orleans Censors Comics", INDIANA EVENING GAZETTE, (Feb. 2, 1949).

14  Frank, Josette, COMICS, RADIO, MOVIES--AND CHILDREN, pg. 3, (1949).

15  Ibid., pg. 4.

16  Ibid.

17  Ibid., pg. 5.

18  Ibid., pg. 6.

19  Ibid., pg. 7.

20  Ibid.

21  Ibid., pg. 8.

22  Ibid.

23  Frank, Josette, "Looking at the Comics--1949", CHILD STUDY, pg. 110, (Fall 1949).

24  Ibid.

25  Ibid., pg. 111.

26  Ibid.

27  Ibid., pg. 124.

28  "Comic Book Publisher Charges Probers Biased", BINGHAMTON PRESS, (Dec. 5, 1951).

29  "Educators Believe Comic Books May Have Future in School Work", BROOKFIELD COURIER, (Nov. 15, 1951).


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Josette Frank: Alone Against the Storm, Part 3

May 23, 1944

To The Sponsors of SUPERMAN
Mutual Broadcasting Company


     This is written in a spirit of friendly criticism, but definitely criticism.
     Your Superman Program seems to me to defeat the very purpose for which it was intended. I assume you mean to "get across" the idea of Superman as the power of Good which overcomes or frustrates all the evil in the world.
     At this point let me say that I believe it is wrong to implant in a young child's mind the idea that the control of good and evil may be lodged in a being such as Superman. We should rather try to raise a generation of healthy minded youth with well-balanced emotional lives. For when people grow up mentally and emotionally in a healthy and well-adjusted way the juvenile problem will be so minor as to be practically extinct, and children are not going to achieve healthy emotional adjustments by being fed such food for emotional digestion as your program furnishes.

     So began a long and well-reasoned letter from listener Margaret Linnell detailing her concerns and likely reflecting those of other parents.
     "To the average child your program is emotionally exciting, the lurid and frightening events (such as gas attacks terrorizing a whole city, ape men, men with queer quirks of personality and physique, gunmen, spies) assuming such prominence as to be the one thing which remains in their minds. They mull it over and feed their imaginations with it until real harm results.
     Children have unusually vivid imaginations and little sense of discernment.
     My own son, aged six, perhaps a bit young for Superman, but the same experience has been true of [my] older boy became frightened to go to bed, had nightmares and finally became very upset when left in his room to go to sleep. He never had been a timid child.
     I finally banned Superman and in a few days everything was back to normal."

     Linnell's rational letter resonated. This wasn't a knee-jerk diatribe written by a parent with an unfocused sense of moral outrage. Moreover, the problems she had with the radio version of Superman could also be applied to the published one.
     "Do you not think that instead of holding before children the evil, the undesirable ways of acting, the wrong sort of conduct, and dramatizing it, that a better approach would be to feature the normal, clean everyday goodness and fun which should be at the root of a child's life?"
     Josette Frank was effectively employed to be the arbiter of Superman's moral code. Given that she had invested so much of her own belief system into his heroic persona made any such attack personal. The Child Study Association had been founded upon Felix Adler's principles that premised the Ethical Culture Movement. Its most important goal was educating children and along with that, stressing socially responsible morality. That a parent could find a character imbued with those attributes troubling was in itself troublesome.     Frank's oversight of Superman had taken him from his roots as a Jerry Siegel's wisecracking, vigilante strong man, through his evolution into the virtuous Big Blue Boy Scout. A teenage fantasy re-imagined as a symbol of America itself. Was the letter-writer objecting to this personification in light of the German √úbermensch that the country was fighting at the time or was it a rejection of a preternaturally powered, God-like protector in general?
     Furthermore, Linnell's letter seemed to fear the effect of the, "emotionally exciting, the lurid and frightening events," would have upon children. This stance flew in the face of Frank's assurance that not all childhood reading need be "saturated with sweetness and light" and that a healthy serving of "good red meat" reading was allowable as well.
     Linnell wasn't the only one expressing these complaints. Her letter was representative of other parents, of certain other concerned adults, whose voices would become increasingly louder and far less polite.

     While many historians have usually viewed the controversy surrounding comic books in a vacuum, the fact is that effect that such popular mass media as radio and film had upon children was a larger battleground of which comics, initially, were just a skirmish. The brewing conflict over comic books was already being fought over children's radio programming and Frank was uniquely positioned to see both battles. 
      Frank and Bob Maxwell saw the Superman radio program as an opportunity. Rather than just choosing to not offend, they sought ways to set an example.
     "I have given a great deal of thought to the problem we discussed the other day--the possibility that something new and fine and important can be added to the late afternoon children's radio hour," wrote Frank to Maxwell in a September 29th, 1944, letter, "And the more I think about it the more excited I am about what might be done. It seems that the time is ripe for just such an event in juvenile radio."
     Frank further noted, "In a country where radio is doing such magnificent things for adults, we have really neglected our children, both in terms of their commercial potential as an audience, and--since I am concerned , after all, as an educator--in terms of offering them really fruitful, in creative, cultural entertainment."
      "There is a great stirring in our educational and cultural world, and children are a part of it. I believe that some of our "best minds" are turned toward children these days and I believe could be brought to focus right now on the really rewarding business of shaping a new kind of radio entertainment for children."
     At the same time, comic publisher DC was doing all it could to get on the good side of the public. Their public relations arm, Superman, Inc., was actively coordinating very visible activities that would undoubtedly garner a favorable response. In a December 20, 1944, letter to Frank, Harry Childs described some of these efforts.
     "At the request of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, we prepared a specialized History of the United States in comics continuity written with a slight emphasis on the contribution made by Spain and Portugal. This continuity was written in English and then translated into both Spanish and Portuguese. Two editions were printed for Latin-American distribution and I am enclosing copies."
     "At the request of the Navy Department, we are preparing a series of graded readers for use with Navy Personnel. For sometime [sic] the Navy has been taking men who must be classified as illiterates and has undertaken the job of teaching them to read. In setting up the requirements of reading material, the Navy selected comic magazines since they are both extremely popular with service personnel and are well suited to providing reading experience--small blocks of copy supported by illustration."
     Childs went on to inform Frank, "These two activities, plus many more in the work, underline the increasing recognition of the comics continuity technique. As additional material becomes available I will see that you are kept informed...".
     One such widely distributed publication was the SUPERMAN WORKBOOK, which reportedly made its way into some 2,500 classrooms across the country. This effort as part of the Superman Good Reading Project contained, "...vocabulary exercises of various kinds in addition to the pictures stories.", 1 and sported Fred Ray's classic SUPERMAN #14 cover of the titular character holding a bald eagle and posing before a stars and stripes emblazoned shield on both its front and back. The choice of this cover, which featured Superman virtually wrapped in the American flag, was certainly not coincidental.
     "In the meantime," Childs implored Frank, "I hope you will give some time to the thought of the potential application of "words, pictures and color in continuity." Needless to say, I will be anxious to hear your opinions, criticisms, suggestions, etc."

     Even with the efforts to set the  Superman program apart from the rest of the offending rabble, Frank found that not everyone saw the difference. An indiscriminating view that crossed international boundaries.

Dear Miss Grannan:

      I am very much interested in the new that the question of "horror programs" is to be on the agenda of your CBC national conference. It seems a little strange that such programs as the general run of our afternoon serials should be included in that category, since when I think of horror programs I think of the more or less adult presentations such as The Shadow and The Inner Sanctum etc.

     There was a growing backlash in Canada against "horror programs" aimed at children. So much so, that during 1944, the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recommended that local stations not renew the contracts for such shows. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters went a step further, "...endeavoring to find concrete cases of this type of program contributing to juvenile delinquency." 2
    Frank's January 9th, 1945, letter to Mary Grannan, CBC supervisor of children's broadcasts, was likely a preemptive strike meant to provide some separation between Superman and legitimate horror programs. Still, Frank didn't totally disagree with Grannan's view.
     "However I do think that once or twice the Superman program has gone overboard in that direction--notably when I was away on my vacation last summer, and in case you heard last Friday's Superman (which I hope you did not) it had a few touches which were done over my dead body and screams of protest. But this is not the usual thing, and as a rule I would hardly call it a horror program."
     There was related matter, unaddressed by Frank, that concerned the producers of Superman. A concern detailed in a February 12th letter from Robert Maxwell to a parent. 

Dear Mr. Duboff,

     The production department of the Mutual Network has informed me that you called to discuss the HOUSE OF MYSTERY program on the basis that a large group of parents in your locality objected to its content. Since HOUSE OF MYSTERY is produced under my personal direction, your inquiry was referred to me.
     As I understood it, you characterized HOUSE OF MYSTERY as "too much like INNER SANCTUM". I am amazed at this since the two programs are diametrically opposed. As a matter of fact, HOUSE OF MYSTERY was created to combat the so-called "unexplained" or psychological horror programs to which so many  children are addicted. The main purpose of HOUSE OF MYSTERY is to explain and expose, to assure youngsters that the occult, the supernatural and the spiritualistic do not exist; to allay fears of the darkness and to show them that wherever supernatural manifestations are said to exist, they can be traced to natural phenomenon or man-made effects.

     The HOUSE OF MYSTERY program is under the editorial guidance of Miss Josette Frank of The Child Study Association of America and the psychiatric guidance of Dr. Loretta Bender, Chief of the Children's Psychiatric Division of Bellevue Hospital, both of whom are convinced that in HOUSE OF MYSTERY we have the first children's entertainment vehicle possessed of therapeutic value.

     Although its spooky organ music and funereal intro delivered by Roger Ellliott, "the Mystery Man", would seem to belie the difference between House of Mystery and other horror programs, Maxwell's assurance was backed by his offer to Duboff to have a meeting. The meeting, which would be attended by either Frank or Bender, was Maxwell's attempt to find a common ground.   
     "You have a great deal at stake as the parent; we have a great deal at stake as the creators and producers of juvenile entertainment, which, to be successful must meet with your approval."  
      Whether such accommodating measures were common in an attempt to placate upset parents is unknown. But it does go to the heart of the matter as it shows the level of concern felt within Superman, Inc. and by extension, throughout DC. Although Superman had originated within the pages of comics, the radio program had brought the character into virtually every home and decisions made on the show affected how he was presented in the comic book. And other than Bob Maxwell, nobody affected how he was presented on the radio program more than Josette Frank.


Novelty Press was the comic book imprint of Curtis Publishing, publishers of the venerable SATURDAY EVENING POST, influential LADIES HOME JOURNAL and JACK & JILL children's magazine. With such a respectable legacy to protect, managing editor Robert D. Wheeler hoped to show that his comics were on the side of the angels and the quickest way there was to get Frank's approval.

March 7, 1945

Dear Miss Frank:

      The inclosed [sic] copy of FRISKY FABLES represents our effort to produce a magazine of the highest type in its field, a "comic" appealing to very small children.
     You will notice that some of the humor will go over the heads of our tiny tots,. We don't think the story value is impaired thereby, however; and frankly our intention was to give a bonus of entertainment value to the adult who has to read the comic to the child.
     As arranged in our telephone conversation, Novelty Press would like an appraisal of FRISKY FABLES by your staff, on the usual paid basis. Not a detailed analysis and study of individual strips, but a general summing up of how ell or how poorly we have accomplished our aims, with perhaps comment on anything particularly deserving praise or censure. 
     We appreciate greatly the fact that you have found TARGET COMICS, BLUE BOLT, and 4-MOST of a standard high enough to warrant your recommending them. I am inclosing [sic] a recent copy of BLUE BOLT to show how our Q and A feature is liked by readers, as shown by readers' letters. Note how we have sandwiched educational [material] among others.

     Frank's response apparently pleased Wheeler, as a few weeks later in a letter dated March 29, she received his appreciative reply along with his acknowledgement of a recommended aid.
     "All the members of our editorial staff are pleased to think that you were so favorably impressed by our new comic magazine, FRISKY FABLES.
     We appreciate also your comments about the Q's and A's, and about the way in which the negro child is introduced in "Fearless Fellers". We are familiar with the booklet "How Writers Perpetuate the Stereotypes" and believe our policies generally are in accordance with the ideas expressed therein."
     Wheeler's familiarity with the recently published (January, 1945) booklet is not surprising, nor is the implication that it was mentioned to him by Frank.
     Produced by the Writer's War Board (the main propaganda organization for the U.S. during WWII), "How Writer's Perpetuate the Stereotypes" took a hard look at the prevailing racial stereotyping in America at the time.
     The Board, chaired by famed mystery writer Rex Stout, conducted an extensive survey of current media--film, radio, advertising, theater, and the various print forms--and ranked each according to how sympathetically it treated minorities. Theater was at the top of the list, novels and motion pictures followed. More than halfway down were comics.
     Frank was certainly aware of this poor showing. It follows that she would attempt to change the portrayal of minorities within comic books as it fit with her, and the CSAA's, similar efforts in children's literature.
     In 1943, the CSSA had established its Children's Book Award based upon rewarding a book, "for young people that deals realistically with problems in their own world". The CSAA was especially appreciative of books that reflected its own progressive attitudes of brotherhood and social significance. 
     This sometimes meant that they would attempt to influence authors themselves. Frank was known to have asked writer Doris Gates to change a white character in a story to an African American 3. That she would hope to similarly influence comic book editors is understandable and it didn't end with her suggestions to Wheeler.

March 4, 1946

Dear Mr. Maxwell,

     It is with the greatest of pleasure that I accept your invitation to serve as the consultant for the Superman Radio Program insofar as the subject  of intergroup relations is concerned. Those of us associated with me and I are delighted that you are going ahead with this type of program because we think it can make a very important contribution to the promotion of understanding and respect among Americans of all backgrounds.

     This letter from Willard Johnson, vice-president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, was welcome news. Frank had solicited this organization for their help 4 and this confirmation of their input was just what she and Maxwell had hoped for.
     Frank had long envsioned a greater purpose for Superman beyond the everyday crime-fighting limitations placed upon him by his writers. She found a sympathetic ally in Maxwell, who was able to convince W. H. Vanderploeg, president of  the program's sponsor Kellogg's and its advertising agency, Kenyon & Eckhardt, that having a social conscience was commercially possible.
     It didn't take long after the first installment of "The Hate Mongers Organization" broadcast on April 16th for the first reviews to come in.
     "Though he did not make the headlines, Superman was news of a rather high order last week," wrote radio columnist Jack Gould, "Disregarding his conventional excursions in escapism, he set out on a new series of adventures in which he proposes to combat the more mundane evils of racial and religious intolerance, adolescent gangsterism and other related problems of the juvenile." 5
     The story arc follows the efforts of Superman and his pal Jimmy Olson to thwart the Guardians of America hate group and their acts of terrorism against the multi-cultrural Untiy House. Though the malicious organization is revealed to be [SPOILER ALERT] conveniently led by a former Nazi spy, this was the show's earliest attempt at potentially controversial subject matter and its positive reception encouraged further socially conscious storylines.
     The vice-president of the CSAA, Mrs. Hugh Grant Straus, took the occasion of a mention in the liberal PM daily newspaper to explain the rationale and development of the new direction of the radio program in a letter to the editor dated May 20th.

Dear Sir,

     I was delighted to note your salute to the new series on the Superman radio program.
     I believe your readers would be interested to know that the Radio Committee of the Child Study Association of America through Josette Frank, its staff adviser, has been consulting with the Superman program and working with its producers for a number of years. The idea of using Superman's special popularity for fighting intolerance was a composite of many consultations and was directly encouraged by a meeting called by this Association to discuss ways in which children's programs might be used to further good interracial and intercultural relations. For the present series, our Committee listened to trial recordings and called upon psychologists, psychiatrists, and propaganda specialists to advise the producers who found themselves with a challenging problem on their hands--entertainment with a purpose.
     We want to join with you in applauding the sponsor (Kellogg's) and the producer (Robert Maxwell Associates) who were willing to put so much blood, sweat and tears into a risky and difficult experiment. We who watched and worked with it since the inception of the idea know what it takes.

     While the next story arc concerning the corruption of poor youth from the slums by a crooked politician ("Al Vincent's Corrupt Political Machine") continued along the path of social awareness, it was the following episodes that elicited both the most praise and the most condemnation. 
     Beginning on June 10, "The Clan of the Fiery Cross" depicted the torments visited upon a young Chinese-American boy named Tommy Lee and his family by a group of "True American" bigots determined to drive them out of Metropolis. Clearly based upon the real Ku Klux Klan, the organization dubbed the Clan of the Fiery Cross is [SPOILER ALERT] eventually stymied and captured as Superman, once again, saves the day.
       Perhaps predictably, there were threats from what Frank characterized as "the lunatic fringe" 6  and some southern U.S. radio stations protested this storyline, but the press was generally positive in their appraisal of Superman's newly formed social agenda.
     Typical was Harriett Van Horne, who wrote in her September 10th column,"Kids admire him now more than ever, it would seem, because his exploits concern matters within their ken. He talks back to the governor and outwits the state police and raises funds for the needy. Along with eating bins of corn flakes, the sponsor hopes the youngsters will imbibe some of Superman's sympathy for the underdog." 7
     Unmentioned, but an underlying motivation was the bedrock belief of the Ethical Culture movement to which the CSAA was dedicated: the establishment of a morality based upon socially beneficial acts free of religious dogma. It can't be overlooked that as the other-worldly Kryptonian was inherently devoid of Earthly religious ties, a being who did good deeds for the sake of goodness itself, Superman was the fictional personification of that belief.

     Harry Childs was serving as editorial director of promotional comics publisher General Comics when he received a December 11, 1946 letter from Frank regarding her critique of a proposed comic he had sent her.
     "My criticism had to do solely with the philosophy that was enunciated by the hero of your strip when the only advice he could offer to two quarreling children was to learn how to fight so that one of them could win. You realize of course that by this precept one of them will also lose. It seems to me that on the positive side we will do well to teach our children that there are things worth fighting for and worth fighting against in this world, and that they can find things more worth fighting about than petty personal advantage. The fight against injustice, against disease, against ignorance--all these offer a most valuable outlet for children's aggressions too."
     Later that same day, Frank wrote yet another letter to Childs concerning a feature at DC.
     "I have been thinking quite a lot about Johnny Everyman and the possibilities he offers for selling America to American children. In a way I think it would be a pity to take him off his international mission. All the educators right now are urging us to do something for children on the U.N. theme, and certainly you are doing it in Johnny Everyman. This idea is more wanted now than ever."
     Ostensibly created in cooperation with the Pearl Buck-led East and West Association, Johnny Everyman was an attempt,"to further understanding between peoples", according to the blurb prominently displayed on the splash page of each story. Often scripted by Jack Schiff, DC editor and writer well-known for his liberal views, the feature put the lead character in situations wherein he could teach impressionable youngsters lessons in tolerance.
     "It occurs to me that you might do one of two things:  (1) Introduce a new character of this type in another book whose mission would be to show our children what goes on in these United States. There is plenty of wonderful material to draw from, and I would like to talk with you about this idea. Or (2) you might use Johnny Everyman in the United States to show the contributions of various nationality groups to the building of America. I have some excellent source material of this kind and this too, is an aspect of American life which is very much wanted by educators and librarians and which plays into the U.N. theme."
     "Think about these two possibilities a bit, and let's talk about it further. I'd like to see you take the lead in this."
     Despite Frank's enthusiasm for the feature, Johnny Everyman disappeared from the pages of DC comics within a few months, doomed, perhaps, by George E. Sokolsky's nationally syndicated column of June 29, 1946.
     "Do you know what your children are reading? Do you ever pick up the comics to which they are so devoted?", he asked rhetorically.
     "The other day, I picked up "World's Finest Comics" and noted a distinguished editorial advisory board," wrote Sokolsky as he dutifully listed Frank and the others, "So I thought that with such a group of advisers, this must be something extraordinary indeed. On the very next page to this listing of these great names appears a comic entitled "Johnny Everyman".
     Sokolsky recounts the story of a young boy named Niikitin ("Nicky") brought before a "young people's court" in the Soviet Union on a charge of theft. The boy kept the bolt of cloth he claimed to have found since he "had his head turned" by pictures he saw in an American magazine. Johnny Everyman appears in the court and is allowed to speak in the boy's defense. "You see, Nicky, in the first place, although America is far ahead of Russia in production, not everybody in America possesses the things you saw advertised in that magazine."
     This does not sit well with Sokolsky.
     "Of course, Nikitin does not read that. No Russian child will read any American comic. All this is for American children."
     Sokolsky finishes detailing the rest of the story and concludes that this means just one thing.
     "In a word, to the child reading that strip, Americans must appear mean and hateful."
     "And there is not a single thing in the cartoon to show democracy or decency in America. The question is asked, by no one answers about freedom of speech, of movement, of thought, of the press,of secret elections, of trial by jury and the privacy of one's home and possessions. Not one word of this."
     "Is that what you want your children to learn about their country? Is that how you would teach them to love their country?"  8
     Any dreams Frank may have had expanding Johnny Everyman's mission were never going anywhere. Having already incurred the wrath of the powerfully connected Sokolsky (he counted J. Edgar Hoover among his close friends), DC wasn't about to draw any more unwanted attention to its comics.Soon there would be attention enough coming from other quarters and  Sokolsky wouldn't be among its biggest concerns.           

"Issues Relating to the Comics", THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL JOURNAL, pg. 642, (May 1942).

"CBC Hits Horror Shows", BROADCASTING, pg. 24, (Dec. 25, 1944).

3   Mickenberg, Julia L., LEARNING FROM THE LEFT, pg. 329,  (2005).

4   Bowers, Rick, SUPERMAN VERSUS THE KU KLUX KLAN, pg. 119 (2012).

5   Gould, Jack, "On the New Superman", NEW YORK TIMES, April 28, 1946.

6   Ohio State University, EDUCATION ON THE AIR YEARBOOK, vol. 17, pg. 158, (1947).

Van Horne, Harriet, "Superman's Message is For Grownups, Too", NEW YORK WORLD-TELEGRAM, Sept. 10, 1946.

Sokolsky, George E., "These Days: The Reading of Children", June 29, 1946.