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

ISBN: 9780312428235 | 0312428235
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Picador
Pub. Date: 2/3/2009

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In the years between the end of World War II and the mid-1950s, the popular culture of today was invented in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. But no sooner had comics emerged than they were beaten down by mass bonfires, congressional hearings, and a McCarthyish panic over their unmonitored and uncensored content. Esteemed critic David Hajdu vividly evokes the rise, fall, and rise again of comics in this engrossing history.David Hajduis the author ofLush Life: A Biography of Billy StrayhornandPositively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. He is the music critic forThe New Republic, and he teaches at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. An Eisner Award Nominee ANew York Times Book ReviewNotable Book ASan Francisco ChronicleBest Book of the Year AChristian Science MonitorBest Book of the Year ASt. Louis Post-DispatchBest Book of the Year ALos Angeles TimesFavorite Book of the Year APublishers WeeklyBest Book of the Year InThe Ten-Cent Plague, David Hajdu looks at the rise and fall of comic books, the art defined by creativity, irreverence, and suspicion of authority. In the years between World War II and the emergence of television as a mass medium, American popular culture as we know it was first createdin the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. No sooner had this new culture emerged than it was beaten down by church groups, community bluestockings, and a McCarthyish Congressonly to resurface with a crooked smile on its face inMadmagazine. The Ten-Cent Plagueshows howyears before the rock and roll music of the 1950scomics brought on a clash between children and their parents, between prewar and postwar standards. Created by outsiders from the tenements, garish, shameless, and often shocking, comics spoke to young people and provided the guardians of mainstream culture with a big target. Parents, teachers, and complicit kids burned comics in public bonfires. Cities passed laws to outlaw comics. Congress took action with televised hearings that nearly destroyed the careers of hundreds of artists and writers. Hajdu aims to revise common notions of popular culture, the generation gap, and the divide between "high" and "low" art. "Horror and other raffish comics, and the campaign to stamp them out, are the subject of David Hajdu's smart new book,The Ten-Cent Plague. . . Hajdu has consulted surviving artists and writers from the period, many of whom were unable to work again in the comics business after the crackdown. The result is a stylish, informed account that shows how easy it is to think fuzzily about other people's pleasures . . . Hajdu evokes the era colorfully and wittily."Dennis Drabelle,The Washington Post Book World"The Ten-Cent Plagueis the third book by David Hajdu to take a subject suitable for fans' hagiography and turn it into something of much wider interest . . . this book tells an amazing story, with thrills and chills more extreme than the workings of a comic book's imagination."Janet Maslin,The New York Times "The meticulously researched evidence of how easily America can be gulled into trashing its defining ideals in the name of Americanismas if we needed any remindersare among the highlights of Hajdu's book . . .The Ten-Cent Plagueis a worthy addition to the canon of comic-book literature."Ron Powers,The N


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