Superman Then and Now: The Story of Comics

Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book

by Gerard Jones

For anyone who wishes to understand the genesis of the graphic novel from the early days of the comic book industry, Men of Tomorrow (Basic Books, 2004) is essential reading. This volume tells the story behind not only the creation of Superman, but also its immediate predecessor, science fiction fandom. Even more tellingly, Men of Tomorrow also describes in depth the roots and growth of comic book publishing and its closely linked cousin, the distribution business.

This blog post is an encapsulation of only some of the myriad anecdotes included in Jones’ work. The pages of Men of Tomorrow pay much further attention to the stories of Harry Donenfeld, Jerry Siegel, Joe Schuster and Jack Liebowitz—among others—compared with what has been included here. In particular, Jerry Siegel’s struggle for recognition as the creator of Superman spanned decades, with Donenfeld and Liebowitz acting as key adversaries to the acknowledgment of due title where it was deserved.

Setting the Stage

In Dave Sim’s Judenhass, the author reflects on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 2005, suggesting that

…But for geographic happenstance and the grace of God, any one of those ordinary men [in the camps] could have just as easily been:

Indeed, every one of these now-legendary comics creators assumes his moment in the narrative spotlight in Men of Tomorrow.

Jones’ tale is an incredible romp through the early years of the publishing industry in New York City. The author sets the stage in his prologue by introducing us to an aging Jerry Siegel, writer of the original Superman comics, now employed as a mail clerk and bitterly resenting how others took financial advantage of him and his creation over the years. These passages foreshadow the key players in the evolution of the comic book industry and its spinoff franchises—in particular, Jack Liebowitz, Charlie Gaines, Mort Weisinger, and Harry Donenfield.

The grand trajectory of Men of Tomorrow begins in earnest with the arrival of Itzhak Donenfield and his family to New York City from Romania in October 1893. The Donenfelds were escaping the impending threat of expulsion from the country, with Romanian Christians turning against Romanian Jews and conducting pogroms against them in their home country. Romanian Jews left Romania in the thousands during this time, the Donenfelds among them.

Many Romanian Jews settled in the Lower East Side of New York City, where Jewish immigrants from other countries had spent the last twenty years establishing a community for themselves in the area. Harry Donenfeld was five years old when his family arrived in New York. As a child, Harry took to the streets and was affiliated with numerous youth gangs.

In 1910, Yulyus Liebowitz brought his family to New York City from Kiev. His son, Yacov, was ten years old. Yacov assumed the name Jacob, which over time changed to Jack. As a child, Jack Liebowitz sold newspapers on the street. Organized crime at the time controlled whole city blocks, and to be a newsboy meant that a publisher would have cut deals with whichever mob managed the turf in question. The American News Agency was the dominant publishing outfit in New York, up until William Randolph Hearst began to make massive circulation deals with criminal organizations in attempt to take over both Chicago and New York territory. Young Jack understood that cooperation with his silent employers was the key to his survival. After high school, Liebowitz studied to become an accountant at New York University, eventually employed by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU).

Jack’s socialist father Yulyus (Julius) Liebowitz had demonstrated his skills as a strong organizer in Jewish Unions. Part of his responsibilities in this capacity included having information leaflets printed off and distributed, which led to his contracting Martin Press, owned by Harry Donenfeld’s older brothers Charlie, Mike, and Irving. The press was created to fill the need for Yiddish newspapers for the huge immigrant Jewish population that had settled in New York.

Initially, Harry Donenfeld chose to pursue an alternative career path as a small-time street hustler. Donenfeld was a dapper dresser and a ladies’ man. He wedded Gussie Weinstein in 1918, and opened up a business selling ladies’ fashionware in New Jersey—though affairs would continue after Donenfeld’s marriage.

“Scientifiction”

Jerome (Jerry) Siegel was born in 1914 in Cleveland, the youngest of six children. The Siegel family had moved to Cleveland from various parts of Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Jerry’s father had established a local general store, which allowed him to comfortably support his family.

As a small and generally introverted child, Jerry Siegel found solace in the movies, especially adventure movies; the first one he ever saw was The Mark of Zorro at age six. Siegel began to draw scenes from movies he had watched, or tried to copy the styles of cartoonists whom he’d read in the local papers. His father, a former sign painter, encouraged Jerry’s art.

In high school, Siegel began to actively seek out pulp adventure magazines to fuel his imagination. Unlike many parents at the time, Jerry’s mother allowed Siegel to read the pulps: cowboy tales, detective stories, jungle adventures, and war sagas.

In August 1928, an issue of Amazing Stories was released with the cover image of a floating man with a rocket pack on his back.

More than any other magazine, Amazing Stories mobilized an entire generation of readers and writers to explore the themes of “scientifiction,” a term coined and included on the cover of the September 1928 issue. The editor of Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback, envisioned a utopian future based on technological advancement. His expressed goal was to share “scientific fiction,” as he originally called it, with the masses through his magazine.

Siegel would give up drawing to concentrate his energies on writing science fiction stories. He and a solid group of Gernsback fans corresponded with one another and followed developments in the pulps with obsessive fervor. Gerard Jones suggests,

Once in the subculture, the boys fine-tuned one another’s identities around the self-definition “science fiction fan—an indifference to clothes an appearance, a manic but unsentimental bonhomie in their meetings, an amused disdain for the drones who didn’t understand them. There was no word for it yet, but now we can see this as the birth of geek culture. And from it every subsequent geek culture—comics, computers, video games, collectible figurines—has either grown directly or taken much of its form (37).

Such was the birth of fandom. Siegel created and self-published Cosmic Stories at 14 years of age, acknowledged by Jones as the first science fiction fan magazine, or “fanzine.” With an initial circulation of ten, and with smudged pages and typos throughout, the ‘zine is not recalled as having garnered huge acclaim. However, Siegel recognized even at this early age that there was a profit to be made through marketing to other science fiction fans.

With the fateful murder of Siegel’s father by a small-time crook, his stories began to assume a different form—he turned to imagining stories of heroes who used their abilities to fight crime.

Donenfeld the Distributor

With the onset of the depression, Harry Donenfeld’s clothing store went into bankruptcy. He joined his brothers in Martin Press. With the Prohibition, alcohol sales went underground. Harry’s ties to the underworld from his days as a hustler now served him well—mob ties, in particular with Frank Costello, led to the delivery of alcohol to Canada on trucks sent up north to pick up mass quantities of printing paper.

Donenfeld eventually ousted two of his brothers from the business and lived the high life with lowlife—drinking, gambling, and womanizing regularly with hoods, actors, corrupt politicians and police officials. He also benefitted from printing promotional flyers for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1928, during his campaign for governor. And lastly, Donenfeld began working with Eastern News, a magazine distribution outfit “…founded by a pair of idealistic young men with their famlies’ rag trade money, Charles Dreyfus and Paul Sampliner.” The myriad connections in Men of Tomorrow are what make this book such an engaging read. What happens next?

Through their odd assortment of periodicals he discovered another region of Twenties America, a world of fitness fanatics and nude photographers, of sex law reformers and pornographers, of contraband distributors and social visionaries, of Hugo Gernsback and Margaret Sanger. It was by walking through that door that Harry would ultimately, accidentally, make his one great contribution to American culture (48).

Donenfeld ended up smuggling contraceptives through Margaret Sanger, a radical political organizer in Greenwich Village. Sanger wished to traffic condoms, diaphragms, and douche kits to women, since all of these items were illegal to send in the mail; she was arrested more than once for trying.

Donenfeld also began printing “art books” featuring portraits of sexy naked women. These volumes were less recognizable as pornography to the censors, and managed to make their way to newsstands where they were sold under the counter. Soon, erotically charged story collections with more and more risqué illustrations and covers began to appear on the stands with Donenfeld involved in their publication as a silent player.

Eventually, Jack Liebowitz left his accounting job with the ILGWU after struggling to crunch numbers in order that mob involvement in the union could not be detected. His next job was working with Harry Donenfeld.

A Fad is Born

During the Depression, a former teacher and school principal named Charlie Gaines began to work in sales, hawking whatever he could. Eventually, he ended up working as a commission salesman for Eastern Color, promoting advertising in newspaper comics. It is said by some that Charlie Gaines was the originator of the comic book format—the year was 1934. As the story goes, Gaines realized that comics could be printed at half their original newspaper broadsheet size and stapled into a pamphlet, which could then be sold independently at newsstands. Gaines got advertisers on board, and some of the comics that were doing well in the papers were reproduced in the new style. Within several weeks of distributing Famous Funnies in department store chains at ten cents an issue, 35 000 copies had sold. Famous Funnies then hit the newsstands through the American News Company the dominant distributor in the country, and a direct competitor of Harry Donenfeld, among others.

During the 1938-1939 school year, the comic book fad took off—up, up and away. Superman had everything to do with the comics explosion, attracting a readership that was less likely to follow the funnies.

The sheer numbers of comic books consumed was a shock to most adults. Fifteen million were sold a month, and market studies found that each one was read by four or five kids. Ninety percent of fourth- and fifth-graders described themselves as “regular readers” of comic books. No books or magazines had ever come close to such numbers, and it’s doubtful that even radio or the movies could have equalled it (170).

 

Super Success

Superman was the first comic magazine to include only one character throughout its pages, thus introducing the idea of developing a sustained graphic narrative in comic book format.

Bill Finger was a ghost writer for Bob Kane’s Batman stories featured in Detective Comics, and was the first to investigate the motivations behind a character’s delving into a life of crime-fighting. With Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered at gunpoint by a petty thief, Finger introduced the origin story as a staple ingredient of the superhero formula. Superman’s origin story would follow shortly thereafter.

The popularity of Superman was compounded through licensing the broadcast of The Adventures of Superman in radio starting in February 1940. Additionally, Paramount contracted Fleisher Studios to produce the Superman cartoon series, which astounded audiences with the quality of its animation. This was only the beginning:

With Superman’s fame came hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing for toys, costumes, puzzles, Big Little Books, watches and cereal. Harry formed a separate company—Superman, Incorporated—to handle it all, with Duke Docovny in charge. Foreign sales were stupendous as Superman’s simplicity made him an easy sell to Europe and Latin America. Sales of the comic books kept climbing, Action Comics at nearly a million per issue, Superman at half as much. Advertising rates soared. Harry’s comic book business brought in $2.6 million in the fiscal year that ended in 1941, and he was still publishing pulps and printing covers and had interests in paper and ink suppliers and the presses that printed his interior pages. And with Superman to get him in the door, he was expanding rapidly in distribution (158).

All this, and Siegel and Shuster signed away their rights for $130, with no interests in future benefits from Superman profits. For National Comics, it was the beginning of an empire. Jack Liebowitz was intent on creating a sustainable business through his DC line. In 1940, he and his newly hired editor Whitney Ellsworth, a former newspaper cartoonist, established an in-house code that would dictate acceptable norms for the superhero genre. From that point onward, superheroes would never purposely kill another being. Liebowitz wanted to ensure that his new comic book line did not invoke the wrath of censors who had previously attacked Donenfeld’s “girlie pulps” and the “Spicies,” a series of sensual tales published in Spicy Adventure Stories and Spicy Detective Stories, among other titles.

 

You Gotta Wonder…

With the comics fad sweeping the nation, it was inevitable that adults should express opposition to the movement. In May 1940, the literary editor of The Chicago News, Sterling North, attacked superhero comics for appealing to the baser violent instincts of children. A viral media sensation grew out of North’s criticisms, with parents growing anxious that their children were being corrupted by the new craze.

Jack Liebowitz hired “accredited experts” to represent themselves as part of an “Editorial Advisory Board” to express their favourable views towards comics on press releases. The board included psychologists whose opinions suggested that superheroes were the embodiment of age-old archetypes, and were thus were a normal aspect of wish-fulfilling fantasies. For the time being, public opinion was held at bay—though with the emergence of the EC line in later years, the integrity of comics would once again be put to the test.

 

One of the psychologists to join the DC-All American Comics Editorial Advisory Board was William Moulton Marston, influenced by the laissez-faire sexual attitudes of 1920s bohemians. Involved in early research into the relationship between emotional stress and blood pressure, Marston was an early contributor into research that led to the creation of the lie detector. The following passage concerning Marston is too good not to quote:

His continuing interest in human emotion, persuasion, and power led him to observe a “baby party,” a weird sorority initiation at a women’s college in which new pledges dressed like babies and were tied up, poked with sticks, and wrestled into submission by other girls. His research assistant was a graduate student named Olive Byre, with whom he was also having an affair. Not long after that he revealed his affair to his wife, Elizabeth, but rather than ending either relationship, that only drew them tighter. Olive moved in with the Marstons in a ménage à trios. Eventually each woman had two children by Marston, all of whom were raised mainly by  Olive as Elizabeth supported the family with a series of academic and editorial jobs (206).

Eventually, Marston found work as resident psychologist for Family Circle magazine, at which time he was also hired to join the Editorial Advisory Board. Charlie Gaines and William Marston met through the board and got along famously. Marston felt that female representation in the comics was sorely lacking, and suggest that secretly males were “looking for an exciting, beautiful girl strong than they are” (207). Though Marston’s theories pertaining to gender and sexuality were misguided, under the pseudonym Charles Moulton, Marston would create Wonder Woman, the Amazon woman from Paradise Island.

 

“Wonder Woman,” Marston said, “is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” His core belief, his explanation of the world’s ills (and perhaps his secret to happy polygamy), was that hatred and violence could be eliminated only by the surrender of male power to female. He gave Wonder Woman two main weapons. First, a pair of bullet-deflecting bracelets (based on the “Arab protective bracelets” worn by Olive Byrne). But there was more to them than prophylaxis—they were manacles as well, worn by the Amazon “to remind them of what happens to a girl when she lets a man conquer her. The Amazons once surrendered to the charm of some handsome Greeks [who] put them in chains of the Hitler type, beat them, and made them work in the fields.” The second weapon was a magic lasso that compelled whomever it ensnared to submit to her will. Marston intended it as a symbol of the real power off women, what he called “Love Allure.” “Normal men retain their childish longing for a woman to mother them,” he said. “At adolescence a new desire is added. They want a girl to allure them. When you put these two together, you have the typical male yearning that Wonder Woman satisfies…the subconscious, elaborately disguised desire of males to be mastered by a woman who loves them” (209).

Who’da thunk it? Wonder Woman abounded with scenes of bondage. Marston’s response to criticism?

Women are exciting for this one reason—it is the secret of women’s allure—women enjoy submission, being bound. This I bring out in the Paradise Island sequences where the girls beg for chains and enjoy wearing them. And that, he said, was “the only truly great contribution of my Wonder Woman strip to moral education of the young. The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound….Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of the self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, human society” (210).

 

Sales skyrocketed, with 90 percent of buyers being preteen and teenage boys.

 

Artists Abound

In 1941 in New York City, so many comic books were being printed that it was a challenge for printers to maintain a steady supply of paper for the presses. Print jobs were scheduled around the clock, with some comics selling more than one million copies per issue. Artists were lined up in studios, often two to a drawing board in an assembly line production model. In “The Whirlwind,” Chapter 9 of Men of Tomorrow, some outstanding anecdotes are recounted of artists working at the time.

Among those involved in the comics trade was Will Eisner, who had intended to be a cartoonist, but who ended up running what amounted to comics studio sweatshop. Dissatisfied with the calibre of the work he was overseeing, Eisner accepted a job offer to work at Quality comics, where he was permitted to retain ownership over his stories and characters, a rarity at the time.

Some cartoonists would later take to establishing themselves on a strip for which the publisher owned the rights, then leaving and creating another for which copyright belonged to the artist. Hal Foster was initially recognized for his work on Tarzan, only to move on to creating Prince Valiant and calling it his own. Roy Crane gained notoriety working on Wash Tubbs, and then created Buz Sawyer, for which he own copyright. Alex Raymond did the same with Rip Kirby, having been well received for his work on Flash Gordon. And finally, Milton Caniff had become popular through his work on Terry and the Pirates and then produced Steve Canyon. But in the early 1940s, these practices were generally unheard of, with Will Eisner being among the first to assert his creative rights over a character.

In June 1940, Eisner’s weekly insert The Spirit hit the newsstands. Eisner brought a filmic element to his work, and The Spirit appealed to young an old, unlike the simplistic comics aimed uniquely at the grade four and five year old boy niche market.

Jack Cole had worked in Eisner’s studio, and had also created Plastic Man as a feature in Police Comics. Plastic Man was unlike anything comics had seen before, what with his over-the-top abilities combined with a humorous approach to fighting crime. Soon The Spirit and Plastic Man were both appearing in Police Comics, and were building momentum that would lead comics into uncharted territory.

Like Cole, Jack Kurtzburg, later known to the comics world as Jack Kirby, also passed through Eisner’s studio. Kirby was first hired in the Fleischer animation studio, where he crossed paths with Bob Kahn, later known as Bob Kane of Batman fame. In 1940, Kirby began his lengthy sojourn with Marvel Comics, beginning with the creation of Captain America in collaboration with Joe Simon, with a print run of one million by the second issue. Artists and writers were flocking to other publishers who were paying more.

Consequently, a nineteen year old Stanley Lieber was hired to edit and write. Stan Lee was more interested in writing fiction or becoming a journalist at the time, but took the job because it was handed to him.

Men of Tomorrow is indispensable for the connections that it makes between the various players not only involved in the comics publishing industry, but also the artists and writers intimately involved in comics production.

New Material

1942 saw the birth of a new kind of comic. The tired poses of the superhero boom were waning, with Wonder Woman being the last blockbuster of the Golden Age. With the end of World War II, the public imagination no longer relied on the myth of the superhero to sustain hope in the face of the archetypal Evil Adversary.

Enter Archie Andrews. Archie was introduced as a strip in the back of Pep comics, which included a superhero named the Shield. Within two years, MLJ Comics, the publisher of Pep, changed its name to Archie Comics. Teen comics became commonplace, including Katy Keene, Nellie the Nurse, Millie the Model and Miss America for young women, and Blackhawk, Airboy, and Boy Commandos for the young men. Feel-good comics inspired by animated cartoons were taking centre stage with the kids. Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker all starred in their own comics. Heroic movie personas such as Tarzan and Roy Rogers also got their own titles.

The Horror…

 

By the end of the decade, there were about forty publishers selling three hundred titles—50 million comics a month. One study found that over half the readers were twenty or older, that adult readers were female, and that white-collar workers read the most comics of all. The comic book looked as though it might become a mainstream American medium (237).

 

But wholesome comics were not the only one on the stands. Crime comics based on true stories (Crime Does Not Pay), hot romance stories Young Romance) and grotesque horror comics were also making their presence known. Crime comics were pushing the envelope on how graphic their pages could get, all the while drawing in millions of readers, and simultaneously inspiring wrath and indignation among parents.

Frederick Wertham was a psychiatrist working with delinquent youth in Harlem at the time. Comics, Wertham argued, were inciting youth to commit crimes inspired by the gritty tales found between their pages.

“I began to notice,” [Wertham] said, “that every delinquent child I treated was a reader of these so-called ‘comic books.’” As Wertham’s critics have pointed out, since 90 percent of American children in the 1940s reported reading comics regularly and since those who didn’t were more likely to be from more educated homes than the psychiatric patients at a free clinic, the coincidence of comic book reading and delinquent behavior was inevitable (273).

Wertham built momentum through first holding a public talk in 1948 on “The Psychopathology of Comic Books.” He then had an article published in The Saturday Review, as well as an interview in Collier’s. Both overtly attacked the moral corruption that comics were said to be causing in youth. Newsweek and Time jumped on the bandwagon. Churches boycotted comics retailers, over fifty cities legislated bills to impede the sale of comics, and comics burnings were conducted in public.

In response, many comics publishers banded together to create the Association of Comic Magazine Publishers (ACMP) and extolled to the public the virtues their self-imposed comics code, based on the original developed by Jack Liebowitz—though Liebowitz chose with withdraw his association with the ACMP, since his vision all along had been to brand DC through the use of its code, and not through association with latecomers who had appropriated his vision as a convenient exercise in public affairs.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency appointed Wertham a psychiatric advisor in 1953. In 1950, Estes Kefauver was the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce. He had humiliated crime boss Frank Costello on public television by cornering him on questions concerning Costello’s income tax claims. Kefauver was now in attendance at the Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.

History might have unfolded differently, were it not for one impudent publisher of immoral and unsavoury comic books, Bill Gaines. Son of Charlie Gaines, Bill had inherited the business from his father and turned it around through rebelling against his father’s pure and innocent Picture Stories from the Bible, among other titles. While every other publisher of unsavoury comics knew to stay as far away from the committee hearings a possible, Bill Gaines requested to testify; he had something to prove.

Gaines’ publishing house had exploded in popularity not just because of its horror comics (Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, and Crime SuspenStories), but also due to the recent acclaim that he’d received for Mad, which elevated satire to a level never before seen in comics, laughing especially at its own medium. Harvey Kurtzman led the pack, with Will Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis all joining him. Many underground cartoonists and comix artists and writers attribute Mad as the early inspiration for their work, including Robert Crumb.

Wertham and Kefauver made a laughing stock of Gaines during the hearings. In Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones takes the time to portray Wertham in terms of his early influences both as a forensic psychiatrist, and as an admirer of the work of Theodor Adorno. Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School, a group of Marxist philosophers who critiqued the mass indoctrination of society through the influences of the culture industry. Wertham meant for the best, but his cause was misguided.

Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent, on the corrupting influence of comics, in conjunction with Gaines’ foolish testimony, sent many comics publishers into a downward spiral.

Comics had a stink about them like never before. They’d always been junk reading. Now they were depraved junk reading. A new flurry of comics-controlling legislation was introduced in cities and states across America, citizens groups pressured retailers to return comics unsold, and wholesalers stopped ordering them. To save themselves, comics publishers knew they had to institute and enforce a strict self-censorship code that could win back the approval of civic groups. That meant comics could show even less than TV, and every one of them would have to be aimed at kids (278).

Recognition

In 1965, Mario Puzo wrote the novel The Godfather in an attempt to get out of debt. He did more than that, with his book rocketing him to notoriety. When Puzo’s name appeared in the credits for Francis Ford Coppola’s film version of The Godfather, the industry paid attention.

Soon Puzo was hired to write the first two drafts of a Superman movie to the tune of $250 000 dollars. Although the script would be further rewritten, rumours abounded that Superman would be a blockbuster. Jerry Siegel had spent the last ten years pursuing legal action against DC for not having rightly compensated the man of tomorrow’s creators. With the movie being released shortly, Warner Communications expressed an interest in clearing the air of any wrongdoing to avoid negative press. Months passed, and Warner had not taken steps to follow up on their word.

Variety magazine published an article about how three million dollars had passed hands between National Periodicals and Warner Studies to create the Superman movie, which led to Jerry Siegel releasing his first press release on the injustices conducted against him in September 1975.

It took time before the momentum built, but eventually Jerry Siegel received the coverage he deserved, in part thanks to Jerry Robinson, president of the National Cartoonists Society, mobilizing the society’s members to apply pressure to Warner and National Periodicals for compensation. Finally, a resolution was reached: $ 20 000 dollars a year to Siegel and Shuster for the rest of their lives, with proper attribution as creators of Superman on all future publications.

Superman: The Movie opened the door for a new entertainment genre that would last long into the 21st century: the comic book movie. Comics had become mainstream once and for all.

Here are Jones’ final words on the subject:

Jerry and his fellow geeks just wanted to see their fantasies out in the world and make a living without having to work a real job. But they distilled the passions of children and outsiders to such pure, glowing symbols that they can be passed from generation to generation without dimming. They are constantly remade and reshaped, but they always find their way to the same hidden yearnings.

These men were pulled in childhood from an ancient world and plunged into the life stream of America in its most joyous, brutal, corrupt, and boundless years…In the collision of desire and possibility, they made a new reality. In the strange alchemy of their long pasts and the indefinable present of a mongrel nation, they glimpsed and created a future (340).

Women and the Comics

In Hank Luttrell’s review of Men of Tomorrow, he rightly points to the absence of any mention of women’s role in comic book creation. I’ve not read any of her books, but in an Inkstuds interview with Trina Robbins, Robbins mentions the importance of women artists especially during the war, when many men artists were drafted into the military.

Additional reading:

For an intriguing glimpse into history, transcripts of the Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency have been reprinted in Maurice Horn’s World Encyclopedia of Comics:

U.S. Congress. Senate. 1954. Juvenile Delinquency (Comic Books): Hearings before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency (Comics Books.” In World Encyclopedia of Comics, ed. Maurice Horn, 861-902. New York: Chelsea House.

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