Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W. WrightComic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W. Wright

Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America

byBradford W. Wright

Paperback | September 18, 2003

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As American as jazz or rock and roll, comic books have been central in the nation's popular culture since Superman's 1938 debut in Action Comics #1. Selling in the millions each year for the past six decades, comic books have figured prominently in the childhoods of most Americans alive today. In Comic Book Nation, Bradford W. Wright offers an engaging, illuminating, and often provocative history of the comic book industry within the context of twentieth-century American society.

From Batman's Depression-era battles against corrupt local politicians and Captain America's one-man war against Nazi Germany to Iron Man's Cold War exploits in Vietnam and Spider-Man's confrontations with student protestors and drug use in the early 1970s, comic books have continually reflected the national mood, as Wright's imaginative reading of thousands of titles from the 1930s to the 1980s makes clear. In every genre-superhero, war, romance, crime, and horror comic books-Wright finds that writers and illustrators used the medium to address a variety of serious issues, including racism, economic injustice, fascism, the threat of nuclear war, drug abuse, and teenage alienation. At the same time, xenophobic wartime series proved that comic books could be as reactionary as any medium.

Wright's lively study also focuses on the role comic books played in transforming children and adolescents into consumers; the industry's ingenious efforts to market their products to legions of young but savvy fans; the efforts of parents, politicians, religious organizations, civic groups, and child psychologists like Dr. Fredric Wertham (whose 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, a salacious exposé of the medium's violence and sexual content, led to U.S. Senate hearings) to link juvenile delinquency to comic books and impose censorship on the industry; and the changing economics of comic book publishing over the course of the century. For the paperback edition, Wright has written a new postscript that details industry developments in the late 1990s and the response of comic artists to the tragedy of 9/11. Comic Book Nation is at once a serious study of popular culture and an entertaining look at an enduring American art form.

Bradford W. Wright is an associate professor with the University of Maryland University College-European Division.
Title:Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in AmericaFormat:PaperbackPublished:September 18, 2003Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801874505

ISBN - 13:9780801874505

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Table of Contents




Chapter 1: Superheroes for the Common Man: The Birth of the Comic Book Industry, 1933-1941

Chapter 2: Race, Politics, and Propaganda: Comic Books Go to War, 1939-1945

Chapter 3: Confronting Success: Comic Books and Postwar America, 1945-1956

Chapter 4: Youth Crisis: Comic Books and Controversy, 1947-1950

Chapter 5: Reds, Romance, and Renegades: Comic Books and the Culture of the Cold War, 1947-1954

Chapter 6: Turning Point: Comic Books in Crisis, 1954-1955

Chapter 7: Great Power and Great Responsibility: Superheroes in a Superpower, 1956-1967

Chapter 8: Questioning Authority: Comic Books and Cultural Change, 1968-1979

Chapter 9: Direct to the Fans: The Comic Book Industry since 1980

Epilogue: The Death of Superman or, Must There Be a Comic Book Industry?

Spider-Man at Ground Zero: A 9-11 Postscript

Editorial Reviews

Fluently animates the artistic, economic, and social history of comic books, from Superman as '30s hero of the downtrodden to debates over kids' consumption of violent imagery to fan culture.