The Ghoulish Times | 02/19/22
The History of Horror Comics
Hello and welcome to the latest issue of The Ghoulish Times. My name is Max Booth III and I am the editor of Ghoulish Books, the host/producer of the Ghoulish podcast, and—as of last Thursday—the wearer of a giant Ghoulish tattoo on my arm. Not a joke. Check it out:
My first tattoo in ten years. My fifth, total. Easily the best of the lot. My arm currently feels like it’s on fire. I love it. Please go buy some Ghoulish Books to reward me for my services.
My buddy Zach Chapman recently launched a Kickstarter for his new horror anthology comic series, House of Blood, so I had him come on my podcast to discuss the history of horror comics.
During the episode, we got deep into censorship trials horror comics faced in the 1950s. The issue grew so out of control, that William Gaines (founder of EC Comics) was eventually called up by Congress to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. The entire transcript is very fascinating, which I’ll share in a moment.
First, let’s talk a little about House of Blood.
From the Kickstarter:
House of Blood is a four issue horror comic series containing 13 chilling tales! Over 115 pages of fully colored sequential art! Each issue has three or four stories of terror and suspense.
You're big fans of horror comics. EC, Creepy, Eerie, hell, even Harvey and the other EC rip-offs. But you've probably read all those stories and are hungry for more. House of Blood continues EC's tradition of chilling tales but adds some modern twists and a few recurring characters (like the anthologies of the 70s).
I was lucky enough to get an early glimpse into House of Blood, and here is what I had to say about it:
House of Blood is a true horror sicko's delight. Every panel is a celebration of horror at its most fun. Gnarly creatures, wacky science fiction nightmares, and the kind of characters who make you howl with laughter when they meet their gruesome demise. I dare you to read these comics without a big slobbering grin across your face.
The Kickstarter launched last Tuesday and reached its goal within 8 hours. There are currently 25 days left of the campaign and lots of fun stretch goals to hit, so I highly encourage everybody to go pledge. Note: I do not stand to profit from this Kickstarter. House of Blood is simply a project I think is very cool and I happen to be friends with the creator—that’s it.
Check out the Kickstarter HERE.
THE HISTORY OF HORROR COMICS
Zach Chapman joined me on the latest GHOULISH to discuss the history of horror comics, EC horror, the time William Gaines testified to Congress while on speed, comic book censorship, manga artist work ethic, prose vs. comic writing, and his new anthology horror comic House of Blood.
Listen to the episode HERE. You can also download it on whatever podcast app you prefer. It’s available in all the usual spots. This one is larger than most GHOULISH episodes, clocking in at just over two hours, but I feel like the length is worth it given the subject matter.
As I mentioned earlier, in this episode of GHOULISH we talk a lot about William Gaines testifying to Congress. Well, after we wrapped our conversation, I did some googling and found the public transcript. It’s a very interesting read, I think, so I’m going to share that here in the newsletter.
Before I share the transcript, I think it’s appropriate to show you the Comics Code of 1954. It’s the best way to demonstrate what kind of censorship issues comic creators were facing over half a century ago.
The Comics Code of 1954
CODE OF THE COMICS MAGAZINE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
Adopted October 26, 1954
The comic-book medium, having come of age on the American cultural scene, must measure up to its responsibilities.
Constantly improving techniques and higher standards go hand in hand with these responsibilities.
To make a positive contribution to contemporary life, the industry must seek new areas for developing sound, wholesome entertainment. The people responsible for writing, drawing, printing, publishing, and selling comic books have done a commendable job in the past, and have been striving toward this goal.
Their record of progress and continuing improvement compares favorably with other media in the communications industry. An outstanding example is the development of comic books as a unique and effective tool for instruction and education. Comic books have also made their contribution in the field of letters and criticism of contemporary life.
In keeping with the American tradition, the members of this industry will and must continue to work together in the future.
In the same tradition, members of the industry must see to it that gains made in this medium are not lost and that violations of standards of good taste, which might tend toward corruption of the comic book as an instructive and wholesome form of entertainment, will be eliminated.
Therefore, the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. has adopted this code, and placed strong powers of enforcement in the hands of an independent code authority.
Further, members of the association have endorsed the purpose and spirit of this code as a vital instrument to the growth of the industry.
To this end, they have pledged themselves to conscientiously adhere to its principles and to abide by all decisions based on the code made by the administrator.
They are confident that this positive and forthright statement will provide an effective bulwark for the protection and enhancement of the American reading public, and that it will become a landmark in the history of self-regulation for the entire communications industry.
CODE FOR EDITORIAL MATTER
General standards—Part A
(1) Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
(2) No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.
(3) Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
(4) If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
(5) Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
(6) In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
(7) Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
(8) No unique or unusual methods of concealing weapons shall be shown.
(9) Instances of law-enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal’s activities should be discouraged.
(10) The crime of kidnapping shall never be portrayed in any detail, nor shall any profit accrue to the abductor or kidnaper. The criminal or the kidnaper must be punished in every case.
(11) The letters of the word “crime” on a comics-magazine cover shall never be appreciably greater in dimension than the other words contained in the title. The word “crime” shall never appear alone on a cover.
(12) Restraint in the use of the word “crime” in titles or subtitles shall be exercised.
General standards—Part B
(1) No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
(2) All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
(3) All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
(4) Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
(5) Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
General standards—Part C
All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency, shall be prohibited.
(1) Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
(2) Special precautions to avoid references to physical afflictions or deformities shall be taken.
(3) Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and, wherever possible, good grammar shall be employed.
(1) Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.
(1) Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
(2) Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
(3) All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.
(4) Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities. NOTE.—It should be recognized that all prohibitions dealing with costume, dialog, or artwork applies as specifically to the cover of a comic magazine as they do to the contents.
Marriage and sex
(1) Divorce shall not be treated humorously nor represented as desirable.
(2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
(3) Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honorable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for morbid distortion.
(4) The treatment of live-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.
(5) Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower and baser emotions.
(6) Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
(7) Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
CODE FOR ADVERTISING MATTER
These regulations are applicable to all magazines published by members of the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. Good taste shall be the guiding principle in the acceptance of advertising.
(1) Liquor and tobacco advertising is not acceptable.
(2) Advertisement of sex or sex instruction books are unacceptable.
(3) The sale of picture postcards, “pinups,” “art studies,” or any other reproduction of nude or seminude figures is prohibited.
(4) Advertising for the sale of knives or realistic gun facsimiles is prohibited.
(5) Advertising for the sale of fireworks is prohibited.
(6) Advertising dealing with the sale of gambling equipment or printed matter dealing with gambling shall not be accepted.
(7) Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.
(8) To the best of his ability, each publisher shall ascertain that all statements made in advertisements conform to fact and avoid misrepresentation.
(9) Advertisement of medical, health, or toiletry products of questionable nature are to be rejected. Advertisements for medical, health, or toiletry products endorsed by the American Medical Association, or the American Dental Association, shall be deemed acceptable if they conform with all other conditions of the Advertising Code.
Part B from “general standards” really stands out to me: “(5) Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.”
They had a strict no ghouls allowed code, and I find that so weird and hilarious and depressing. I wish I could go back in time and show them the tattoo I posted about in the beginning of this newsletter.
My entire goddamn life is dedicated to ghouls and ghoulish things. I wouldn’t even know who I’d be without embracing everything spooky. The world has changed a lot since the 1950s, but I also think many people’s morals haven’t actually evolved all that much. I think of the small town I live in, and I think of the annual festival the town runs, and I think of everybody’s reactions when they see the books we sell at our vendor table. A lot of them looked uncomfortable, frightened. Most of them just looked pissed.
The horror genre has come a long way. I love this stuff with every ounce of my existence, and I will die fighting for its survival. I think right now the genre is probably the most popular it’s ever been in history, and that is awesome. But it’s important to remember it hasn’t always been so widely accepted. Which is why I’m going to share the entire transcript of William Gaines testifying to the U.S. Congress below. Credit goes toward thecomicbooks.com, which is where I found the text.
So, once again, please go support House of Blood on Kickstarter, and give our podcast episode of GHOULISH a listen.
Note: Due to the length of this newsletter, it will most likely get cut off in your email. I recommend reading it in your browser instead.
TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM M. GAINES, PUBLISHER, ENTERTAINING
COMICS GROUP, NEW YORK, N. Y.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed in your own manner.
Mr. GAINES. Gentlemen, I would like to make a short statement. I am here as an individual publisher.
Mr. HANNOCH. Will you give your name and address, for the record?
Mr. GAINES. My name is William Gaines. My business address is 225 Lafayette Street, New York City. I am a publisher of the Entertaining Comics Group.
I am a graduate of the school of education of New York University. I have the qualifications to teach in secondary schools, high schools.
What then am I doing before this committee? I am a comic-book publisher. My group is known as EC, Entertaining Comics.
I am here as a voluntary witness. I asked for and was given this chance to be heard.
Two decades ago my late father was instrumental in starting the comic magazine industry. He edited the first few issues of the first modern comic magazine, Famous Funnies. My father was proud of the industry he helped found. He was bringing enjoyment to millions of people.
The heritage he left is the vast comic-book industry which employs thousands of writers, artists, engravers, and printers.
It has weaned hundreds of thousands of children from pictures to the printed word. It has stirred their imagination, given them an outlet for their problems and frustrations, but most important, given them millions of hours of entertainment.
My father before me was proud of the comics he published. My father saw in the comic book a vast field of visual education. He was a pioneer.
Sometimes he was ahead of his time. He published Picture Stories from Science, Picture Stories from World History, and Picture Stories from American History.
He published Picture Stories from the Bible.
I would like to offer these in evidence.
The CHAIRMAN. They will be received for the subcommittee's permanent files. Let that be exhibit No. 11.
(The documents referred to were marked "Exhibit No. 11,", and are on file with the subcommittee)
Mr. GAINES. Since 1942 we have sold more than 5 million copies of Picture Stories from the Bible, in the United States. It is widely used by churches and schools to make religion more real and vivid.
Picture Stories from the Bible is published throughout the world in dozens of translations. But it is nothing more nor nothing less than a comic magazine.
I publish comic magazines in addition to picture stories from the Bible. For example, I publish horror comics. I was the first publisher in these United States to publish horror comics. I am responsible, I started them.
Some may not like them. That is a matter of personal taste. It would be just as difficult to explain the harmless thrill of a horror story to a Dr. Wertham as it would be to explain the sublimity of love to a frigid old maid.
My father was proud of the comics he published, and I am proud of the comics I publish. We use the best writers, the finest artists; we spare nothing to make each magazine, each story, each page, a work of art.
As evidence of this, I might point out that we have the highest sales in individual distribution. I don't mean highest sales in comparison to comics of another type. I mean highest sales in comparison to other horror comics. The magazine is one of the few remaining ─ the comic magazine is one of the few remaining pleasures that a person may buy for a dime today. Pleasure is what we sell, entertainment, reading enjoyment. Entertaining reading has never harmed anyone. Men of good will, free men should be very grateful for one sentence in the statement made by Federal Judge John M. Woolsey when he lifted the ban on Ulysses. Judge Woolsey said:
It is only with the normal person that the law is concerned.
May I repeat, he said, "It is only with the normal person that the law is concerned." Our American children are for the most part normal children. They are bright children, but those who want to prohibit comic magazines seem to see dirty, sneaky, perverted monsters who use the comics as a blueprint for action.
Perverted little monsters are few and far between. They don't read comics. The chances are most of them are in schools for retarded children.
What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of our own children? Do we forget that they are citizens, too, and entitled to select what to read or do? We think our children are so evil, simple minded, that it takes a story of murder to set them to murder, a story of robbery to set them to robbery?
Jimmy Walker once remarked that he never knew a girl to be ruined by a book. Nobody has ever been ruined by a comic.
As has already been pointed out by previous testimony, a little healthy, normal child has never been made worse for reading comic magazines.
The basic personality of a child is established before he reaches the age of comic-book reading. I don't believe anything that has ever been written can make a child overaggressive or delinquent.
The roots of such characteristics are much deeper. The truth is that delinquency is the product of real environment, in which the child lives and not of the fiction he reads.
There are many problems that reach our children today. They are tied up with insecurity. No pill can cure them. No law will legislate them out of being. The problems are economic and social and they are complex.
Our people need understanding; they need to have affection, decent homes, decent food.
Do the comics encourage delinquency? Dr. David Abrahamsen has written:
Comic books do not lead into crime, although they have been widely blamed for it. I find comic books many times helpful for children in that through them they can get rid of many of their aggressions and harmful fantasies. I can never remember having seen one boy or girl who has committed a crime or who became neurotic or psychotic because he or she read comic books.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Kefauver.
Senator KEFAUVER. Is that Dr. David Abrahamsen?
Mr. GAINES. That is right, sir. I can give you the source on that, if you like. I will give it to you later.
The CHAIRMAN. You can supply that later.
(The source is as follows:)
Abrahamsen, Dr. David, Who Are the Guilty, New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc., page 279.
Mr. GAINES. I would like to discuss, if you bear with me a moment more, something which Dr. Wertham provoked me into. Dr. Wertham, I am happy to say, I have just caught in a half-truth, and I am very indignant about it. He said there is a magazine now on the stands preaching racial intolerance. The magazine he is referring to is my magazine. What he said, as much as he said, was true. There do appear in this magazine such materials as "Spik," "Dirty Mexican," but Dr. Wertham did not tell you what the plot of the story was.
This is one of a series of stories designed to show the evils of race prejudice and mob violence, in this case against Mexican Catholics.
Previous stories in this same magazine have dealt with antisemitism, and anti-Negro feelings, evils of dope addiction and development of juvenile delinquents.
This is one of the most brilliantly written stories that I have ever had the pleasure to publish. I was very proud of it, and to find it being used in such a nefarious way made me quite angry.
I am sure Dr. Wertham can read, and he must have read the story, to have counted what he said he counted.
I would like to read one more thing to you.
Senator Hennings asked Dr. Peck a question. I will be perfectly frank with you, I have forgotten what he asked him, but this is the answer because I made a notation as he went along.
No one has to read a comic book to read horror stories.
Anyone, any child, any adult, can find, much more extreme descriptions of violence in the daily newspaper. You can find plenty of examples in today's newspaper. In today's edition of the Daily News, which more people will have access to than they will to any comic magazine, there are headline stories like this:
Finds he has killed wife with gun.
Man in Texas woke up to find he had killed his wife with gun. She had bullet in head and he had a revolver in his hand.
The next one:
Cop pleads in cocktail poisoning.
Twenty-year-old youth helps poison the mother and father of a friend.
Court orders young hanging. Man who killed his wife will be hung in June for his almost-perfect murder.
Let us look at today's edition of the Herald Tribune.
On the front page a criminal describes how another criminal told him about a murder he had done. In the same paper the story of a man whose ex-wife beat him on the head with a claw hammer and slashed him with a butcher knife.
In the same paper, story of a lawyer who killed himself.
In another, a story of that man who shot his wife while having a nightmare.
Another, a story of a gang who collected an arsenal of guns and knives. These are very many stories of violence and crime in the Herald Tribune today.
I am not saying it is wrong, but when you attack comics, when you talk about banning them as they do in some cities, you are only a step away from banning crimes in the newspapers.
Here is something interesting which I think most of us don't know. Crime news is being made in some places. The United Nations UNESCO report, which I believe is the only place that it is printed, shows that crime news is not permitted to appear in newspapers in Russia or Communist China, or other Communist-held territories.
We print our crime news. We don't think that the crime news or any news should be banned because it is bad for children.
Once you start to censor you must censor everything. You must censor comic books, radio, television, and newspapers.
Then you must censor what people may say. Then you will have turned this country into Spain or Russia.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Gaines, let me ask you one thing with reference to Dr. Wertham's testimony.
You used the pages of your comic book to send across a message, in this case it was against racial prejudice; is that it?
Mr. GAINES. That is right.
Mr. BEASER. You think, therefore, you can get across a message to the kids through the medium of your magazine that would lessen racial prejudice; is that it?
Mr. GAINES. By specific effort and spelling it out very carefully so that the point won't be missed by any of the readers, and I regret to admit that it still is missed by some readers, as well as Dr. Wertham ─ we have, I think, achieved some degree of success in combating anti-Semitism, anti-Negro feeling, and so forth.
Mr. BEASER. Yet why do you say you cannot at the same time and in the same manner use the pages of your magazine to get a message which would affect children adversely, that is, to have an effect upon their doing these deeds of violence or sadism, whatever is depicted?
Mr. GAINES. Because no message is being given to them. In other words, when we write a story with a message, it is deliberately written in such a way that the message, as I say, is spelled out carefully in the captions. The preaching, if you want to call it, is spelled out carefully in the captions, plus the fact that our readers by this time know that in each issue of shock suspense stories, the second of the stories will be this type of story.
Mr. BEASER. A message can be gotten across without spelling out in that detail. For example, take this case that was presented this morning of the child who is in a foster home who became a werewolf, and foster parents─
Mr. GAINES. That was one of our stories.
Mr. BEASER. A child who killed her mother. Do you think that would have any effect at all on a child who is in a foster placement, who is with foster parents, who has fears? Do you not think that child in reading the story would have some of the normal fears which a child has, some of the normal desires tightened, increased?
Mr. GAINES. I honestly can say I don't think so. No message has been spelled out there. We were not trying to prove anything with that story. None of the captions said anything like "If you are unhappy with your step mother, shoot her."
Mr. BEASER. No, but here you have a child who is in a foster home who has been treated very well, who has fears and doubts about the foster parent. The child would normally identify herself in this case with a child in a similar situation and there a child in a similar situation turns out to have foster parents who became werewolves.
Do you not think that would increase the child's anxiety?
Mr. GAINES. Most foster children, I am sure, are not in homes such as were described in those stories. Those were pretty miserable homes.
Mr. HANNOCH. You mean the houses that had vampires in them, those were not nice homes?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. HANNOCH. Do you know any place where there is any such thing?
Mr. GAINES. As vampires?
Mr. HANNOCH. Yes.
Mr. GAINES. No, sir; this is fantasy. The point I am trying to make is that I am sure no foster children are kept locked up in their room for months on end except in those rare cases that you hear about where there is something wrong with the parents such as the foster child in one of these stories was, and on the other hand, I am sure that no foster child finds himself with a drunken father and a mother who is having an affair with someone else.
Mr. BEASER. Yet you do hear of the fact that an awful lot of delinquency comes from homes that are broken. You hear of drunkenness in those same homes.
Do you not think those children who read those comics identify themselves with the poor home situation, with maybe the drunken father or mother who is going out, and identify themselves and see themselves portrayed there?
Mr. GAINES. It has been my experience in writing these stories for the last 6 or 7 years that whenever we have tested them out on kids, or teen-agers, or adults, no one ever associates himself with someone who is going to be put upon. They always associate themselves with the one who is doing the putting upon.
The CHAIRMAN.You do test them out on children, do you?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. How do you do that?
Senator HENNINGS. Is that one of your series, the pictures of the two in the electric chair, the little girl down in the corner?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Senator HENNINGS. As we understood from what we heard of that story, the little girl is not being put upon there, is she? She is triumphant apparently, that is insofar as we heard the relation of the story this morning.
Mr. GAINES. If I may explain, the readers does not know that until the last panel, which is one of the things we try to do in our stories, is have an O. Henry ending for each story.
Senator HENNINGS. I understood you to use the phrase "put upon," and that there was no reader identification ─ with one who was put upon, but the converse.
Mr. GAINES. That is right, sir.
Senator HENNINGS. Now, in that one, what would be your judgment or conclusion as to the identification of the reader with that little girl who has, to use the phrase, framed her mother and shot her father?
Mr. GAINES. In that story, if you read it from the beginning, because you can't pull things out of context─
Senator HENNINGS. That is right, you cannot do that.
Mr. GAINES. You will see that a child leads a miserable life in the 6 or 7 pages. It is only on the last page she emerges triumphant.
Senator HENNINGS. As a result of murder and perjury, she emerges as triumphant?
Mr. GAINES. That is right.
Mr. HANNOCH. Is that the O. Henry finish?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. HANNOCH. In other words, everybody reading that would think this girl would go to jail. So the O. Henry finish changes that, makes her a wonderful looking girl?
Mr. GAINES. No one knows she did it until the last panel.
Mr. HANNOCH. You think it does them a lot of good to read these things?
Mr. GAINES. I don't think it does them a bit of good, but I don't think it does them a bit of harm, either.
The CHAIRMAN. What would be your procedure to test the story out on a child or children?
Mr. GAINES. I give them the story to read and I ask them if they enjoyed it, and if they guessed the ending. If they said they enjoyed it and didn't guess the ending, I figure it is a good story, entertaining.
The CHAIRMAN. What children do you use to make these tests with?
Mr. GAINES. Friends, relatives.
Senator HENNINGS. Do you have any children of your own, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir.
Senator HENNINGS. Do you use any of the children of your own family, any nieces, nephews?
Mr. GAINES. My family has no children, but if they had, I would use them.
The CHAIRMAN. You do test them out on children of your friends, do you?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Gaines, in your using tests, I don't think you are using it in the same way that we are here. You are not trying to test the effect on the child, you are trying to test the readability and whether it would sell?
Mr. GAINES. Certainly.
Mr. BEASER. That is a different kind of test than the possible effect on the child. Then you have not conducted any tests as to the effects of these upon children?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir.
Mr. BEASER. Were you here this morning when Dr. Peck testified?
Mr. GAINES. I was.
Mr. BEASER. Did you listen to his testimony as to the possible effect of these comics upon an emotionally maladjusted child?
Mr. GAINES. I heard it.
Mr. BEASER. You disagree with it?
Mr. GAINES. I disagree with it.
Frankly, I could have brought many, many quotes from psychiatrists and child-welfare experts and so forth pleading the cause of the comic magazine. I did not do so because I figured this would all be covered thoroughly before I got here. And it would just end up in a big melee of pitting experts against experts.
Mr. BEASER. Let me get the limits as far as what you put into your magazine. Is the sole test of what you would put into your magazine whether it sells? Is there any limit you can think of that you would not put in a magazine because you thought a child should not see or read about it?
Mr. GAINES. No, I wouldn't say that there is any limit for the reason you outlined. My only limits are bounds of good taste, what I consider good taste.
Mr. BEASER. Then you think a child cannot in any way, in any way, shape, or manner, be hurt by anything that a child reads or sees?
Mr. GAINES. I don't believe so.
Mr. BEASER. There would be no limit actually to what you put in the magazines?
Mr. GAINES. Only within the bounds of good taste.
Mr. BEASER. Your own good taste and salability?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here is your May 22 issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir; I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.
Senator KEFAUVER. You have blood coming out of her mouth.
Mr. GAINES. A little.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here is blood on the ax. I think most adults are shocked by that.
The CHAIRMAN. Here is another one I want to show him.
Senator KEFAUVER. This is the July one. It seems to be a man with a woman in a boat and he is choking her to death here with a crowbar. Is that in good taste?
Mr. GAINES. I think so.
Mr. HANNOCH. How could it be worse?
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Chairman, if counsel will bear with me, I don't think it is really the function of our committee to argue with this gentleman. I believe that he has given us about the sum and substance of his philosophy, but I would like to ask you one question, Sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed.
Senator HENNINGS. You have indicated by what ─ I hope you will forgive me if I suggest ─ seems to be a bit of self-righteousness, that your motivation was bringing "enjoyment" ─ is that the word you used?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.
Senator HENNINGS. To the readers of these publications. You do not mean to disassociate the profit motive entirely, do you?
Mr. GAINES. Certainly not.
Senator HENNINGS. Without asking you to delineate as between the two, we might say there is a combination of both, is there not?
Mr. GAINES. No question about it.
Senator HENNINGS. Is there anything else that you would like to say to us with respect to your business and the matters that we are inquiring into here?
Mr. GAINES. I don't believe so.
Senator KEFAUVER. I would like to ask 1 or 2 questions.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed, Senator.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Gaines, I had heard that your father really did not have horror and crime comics. When he had the business he printed things that were really funny, and stories of the Bible, but you are the one that started out this crime and horror business.
Mr. GAINES. I did not start crime; I started horror.
Senator KEFAUVER. Who started crime?
Mr. GAINES. I really don't know.
Senator KEFAUVER. Anyway, you are the one who, after you took over your father's business in 1947, you started this sort of thing here. This is the May edition of Horror.
Mr. GAINES. I started what we call our new-trend magazines in 1950.
Senator KEFAUVER. How many of these things do you sell a month, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. It varies. We have an advertising guaranty of 1,500,000 a month for our entire group.
Senator KEFAUVER. That is for all the Entertaining Comics, of which Shock is one of them? How do you distribute these, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. I have a national distributor. There are roughly 10 individual national distributors which handle roughly half of the magazines. The other half is handled by American News.
The 1 of the 10 that I have is Leader News Co.
Senator KEFAUVER. That is a distributor. Then do they sell to wholesalers?
Mr. GAINES. They in turn sell to seven-hundred-odd wholesalers around the country.
Senator KEFAUVER. The wholesalers then pass it out to the retailers, the drug stores, and newsstands; is that right?
Mr. GAINES. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. They are all sold on a consignment basis?
Mr. GAINES. They are all returnable.
Senator KEFAUVER. So your magazines along with what other wholesaler may be handling, are taken in a package to the retailer and left there and he is supposed to put them on his stand and sell them?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. And if he does not sell them, or does not display them, then he is liable to get another retailer?
Mr. GAINES. No, we cover every retailer as far as I know.
Senator KEFAUVER. You don't like things to be put back and resold. You would like them to be sold.
Mr. GAINES. I would prefer it. Comics are so crowded today, I think there are some 500 titles, that it is impossible for any retailer to give all 500 different places.
Senator KEFAUVER. I notice in this edition of May 14 the one in which you have the greasy Mexican the first page has apparently two shootings going on at the same time here, then on the next page is an advertisement for young people to send a dollar in and get the Panic for the next 8 issues. Is that not right?
Mr. GAINES. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. This says the editors of Panic, 225 Lafayette Street. That is you?
Mr. GAINES. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. Then the attraction here is "I dreamed I went to a fraternity smoker in my Panic magazine," you have dice on the floor and cigarettes, somebody getting beer out, somebody laying on his back taking a drink, Do you think that is all right?
Mr. GAINES. This is an advertisement for one of my lampoon magazines. This is a lampoon of the Maiden-Form brassiere ad, I dreamed I went to so-and-so in my Maiden-Form brassiere, which has appeared in the last 6 years in national family magazines showing girls leaping through the air in brassieres and panties.
We simply lampoon by saying "I dreamed I went to a panic smoker in my Panic magazine."
Senator KEFAUVER. I mean, do you like to portray a fraternity smoker like that?
Mr. GAINES. This is a lampoon magazine. We make fun of things.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that is in good taste?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. I have looked through these stories. Every one of them seems to end with murder, practically. I have looked through this one where they have the greasy Mexican and the Puerto Rican business. I can't find any moral of better race relations in it, but I think that ought to be filed so that we can study it and see and take into consideration what Mr. Gaines has said.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Gaines, you have no objection to having this made a part of our permanent files, have you?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, without objection, it will be so ordered. Let it be exhibit No. 12.
(The magazine referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 12," and is on file with the subcommittee.)
Senator KEFAUVER. Is Mr. Gaines a member of the association that we talked about here this morning?
Mr. GAINES. No longer. I was a member for about 2 or 3 years and I resigned about 2 or 3 years ago.
Senator KEFAUVER. How did you happen to resign, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. Principally for financial reasons.
Senator KEFAUVER. It only has $15,000 a year for the whole operation?
Mr. GAINES. At that time my share would have been $2,000. At that time, also, about 10 percent of the publishers were represented. I was a charter member of the association. I stuck with it for 2 or 3 years.
The theory was that we were going to get all the publishers into it and then the burden of financial─
Senator KEFAUVER. Did you have any argument about censorship, about this gentleman, Mr. Schultz, who was here, not liking the kind of things you were publishing?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir. Mr. Schultz and I frequently had disagreements which we would iron out and I would make the changes he required until I decided to resign.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you have any part, Mr. Gaines, in preparing that code?
Mr. GAINES. No, the code was prepared by, I believe, the first board of directors of the association. I was on the board of directors later on, but not at first.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you subscribe to the code?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you think that publishing a magazine like this for example would still be within the code?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. You admit none of this would come within that code?
Mr. GAINES. Certain portions of the code I have retained. Certain portions of the code I have not retained. I don't agree with the code in all points.
Senator KEFAUVER. The code that you have here, none of your stories would come in that code. You could not print any of these if you compiled with the full code we read here this morning.
Mr. GAINES. I would have to study the story and study the code to answer that.
Senator KEFAUVER. How much is your monthly income from all your corporations with this thing, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. You mean by that, my salary?
Senator KEFAUVER. No. How much do you take in a month from your publications?
Mr. GAINES. I wouldn't know monthly. We figure it annually.
Senator KEFAUVER. Let us say gross.
Mr. GAINES. Gross, I don't know.
Senator KEFAUVER. What is your best estimate annually?
Mr. GAINES. I would say about $80,000 a month gross.
Senator KEFAUVER How many books did you say you printed a month?
Mr. GAINES. A million and a half guaranteed sale. We print about two, two and a half million.
Senator KEFAUVER. How much net do you make a month out of it, that is, the corporations?
Mr. GAINES. Last year it came to about $4,000 a month.
Senator KEFAUVER. Do you have several corporations, Mr. Gaines?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. How many corporations do you have?
Mr. GAINES. I have five.
Senator KEFAUVER. Why do you have five corporations?
Mr. GAINES. Well, I don't really know. I inherited stock in five corporations which were formed by my father before his death. In those days he started a corporation, I believe, for every magazine. I have not adhered to that.
I have just kept the original five and published about two magazines in each corporation.
Senator KEFAUVER. Do you not think the trouble might have been if one magazine got in trouble that corporation would not adversely affect the others?
Mr. GAINES. Oh, hardly.
Senator KEFAUVER. You did get one magazine banned by the attorney general of Massachusetts, did you not?
Mr. GAINES. The attorney general of Massachusetts reneged and claims he has not banned it. I still don't know what the story was.
Senator KEFAUVER. Anyway, he said he was going to prosecute you if you sent that magazine over there any more.
Mr. GAINES. He thereafter, I understand, said ─ he never said he would prosecute.
Senator KEFAUVER. That is the word you got though, that he was going to prosecute you?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. When was that?
Mr. GAINES. Just before Christmas.
Senator KEFAUVER. Which magazine was that?
Mr. GAINES. That was for Panic No. 1.
Senator KEEAUVER. Just one other question. There is some association that goes over these things. Do you make any contribution to the memberships of any associations?
Mr. GAINES. No.
Senator KEFAUVER. Any committee that supervises the industry?
Mr. GAINES. No. There is no such committee or organization aside from the Association of Comic Magazine Publishers.
Senator KEFAUVER. You said you had a guaranteed sale of a million and a half per month.
Mr. GAINES. We guarantee the advertisers that much.
Senator KEFAUVER. So that you do have some interest in seeing that the distributor and wholesaler and retailer get your magazines out because you guarantee the advertisers a million and a half sales a month?
Mr. GAINES. I have a very definite interest. Unfortunately, I don't have a thing to do with it.
Senator KEFAUVER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANNOCH. Could I ask one or two questions?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Hannoch.
Mr. HANNOCH. What is this organization that you maintain called the Fan and Addict Club for 25 cents a member?
Mr. GAINES. Simply a comic fan club.
Mr. HANNOCH. You advertise the children should join the club?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. HANNOCH. What do they do? Do they pay dues?
Mr. GAINES. No.
Mr. HANNOCH. What do they send 25 cents in for?
Mr. GAINES. They get an arm patch, an antique bronze pin, a 7 by 11 certificate and a pocket card, the cost of which to me is 26 cents without mailing.
Mr. HANNOCH. After you get a list of all these kids and their families and addresses, what do you do with the list?
Mr. GAINES. I get out what we call fan and addict club bulletins. The last bulletin was principally made up of names and addresses of members who had back issues they wanted to trade with other members.
Mr. HANNOCH. Did anybody buy that list from you and use it?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir; I have never sold it.
Mr. HANNOCH. Do you know anything about this sheet called, "Are you a Red dupe?"
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir I wrote it.
Mr. HANNOCH. How has it been distributed?
Mr. GAINES. It has not been distributed. It is going to be the inside front cover ad on five of my comic magazines which are forth-coming.
Mr. HANNOCH. And it is going to be an advertisement?
Mr. GAINES. Not an advertisement. It is an editorial.
Mr. HANNOCH. Do other magazines have copies of this to be used for the same purpose?
Mr. GAINES. No, Sir.
Mr. HANNOCH. You haven't made this available to the magazines as yet?
Mr. GAINES. No, sir; and I don't intend to.
Mr. HANNOCH. You believe the things that you say in this ad that you wrote?
Mr. GAINES. Yes, sir.
Mr. HANNOCH. That anybody who is anxious to destroy comics are Communists?
Mr. GAINES. I don't believe it says that.
Mr. HANNOCH. The group most anxious to destroy comics are the Conimunists?
Mr. GAINES. True, but not anybody, just the group most anxious.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions?
Mr. HANNOCH. No.
Mr. BEASER. I have some questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Beaser.
Mr. BEASER. Just to settle the point which came up before, Mr. Gaines, who is it that gets the idea for this, for one of your stories, you, your editor, the artist, the writer? Where does it come from?
Mr. GAINES. Principally from my editors and myself.
Mr. BEASER. Not from the artists?
Mr. GAINES. No.
Mr. BEASER. He just does what he is told?
Mr. GAINES. He just followed the story and illustrates it.
Mr. BEASER. He is told what to do and how to illustrate it?
Mr. GAINES. No, our artists are superior artists. They don't have to be given detailed descriptions.
Mr. BEASER. He has to be told what it is?
Mr. GAINES. It is lettered in before he draws it.
Mr. BEASER. He knows the story pretty much, so he knows what he can fit in?
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. You said that you had a circulation of 5 million Bible storybooks.
Mr. GAINES. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. How many years is this?
Mr. GAINES. Twelve years, since 1942.
Mr. BEASER. In other words, in little over 3½ months you sell more of your crime and horror than, you sell of the Bible stories?
Mr. GAINES. Quite a bit more.
Mr. BEASER. They seem to go better?
Mr. GAINES. This is a 65-cent book. The crime-and-horror book is a 10-cent book. There is a difference.
Mr. BEASER. No further questions, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Gaines.
Mr. GAINES. Thank you, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Will counsel call the next witness?
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Walt Kelly.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Kelly, do you have some associates?
Mr. KELLY. I have, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want them to come up and sit with you?
Mr. KELLY. I think I would enjoy the company.
The CHAIRMAN. Fine. We would enjoy having them up here. I will swear you all at one time.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give to this subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. KELLY. I do.
Mr. CANIFF. I do.
Mr. MUSIAL. I do.
DOG EARS ROUNDUP
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"What most surprised you about the process of printing your first book as a publisher?"
"What has worked (or failed to work) in terms of promotion and raising awareness for your output?"
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