le-trombone's Reviews > The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America

The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu
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's review
Jun 11, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: nonfiction-history
Read in August, 2008

A better title for this book might have been "The Circumstances That Caused Bill Gaines To Create Mad Magazine"

It's not unusual to focus on a small group to make a larger historical point, but the details of the anti-comic book hysteria (and it did reach the point of mob panic) could have been covered in greater detail. As it is, the details that we do get, from a senator with presidential ambitions to the "doctors" who would use psychobabble to find the inherent dangers of this still new art form merely tantalize us. The circumstances around Bill Gaines, almost the only one to stand up to the investigative committee are important, and he deserves the attention he gets in the book, but he's not the only actor in this play, and their stories deserved more fleshing out.

In a sense I am complaining that the book is too short, which is partly true. What we should have gotten was two books, one focusing on Gaines, the other on the history of the form including the change from hero comics to crime comics that spurred the hysteria in the first place. In short, the tendency to skip around does not help what is, boiled down to it's essence, an outline of the history.
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