How many of you remember reading comic books when you were younger? Mickey Mouse, Superman, Captain America, or maybe Archie, Jughead and Veronica. The comics were simple, cheap entertainment.
Of course, there was a down side, and in 1954 a book, “The Seduction of the Innocent,” claimed comic books were a leading cause of juvenile delinquency. The book led to a Congressional investigation of the industry, calls for censorship, and the adoption of the Comic Code Authority, which led publishers to self-censor content.
How far we’ve come!
This past weekend Comic Con wrapped up in San Diego. And in case, you think this was just a small-time affair attracting a few fans, geeks and nerds, there were about 150-thousand people attending. To put that into some kind of perspective, the first Comic Con, in 1970, attracted 300 people.
What were all these people doing? Well, of course there was buying and selling, and illustrators and authors talked about their products. But comic books have also become a subject of serious academic study. How have characters changed over time? Are the stories different over time? Are comic books sending political or religious messages to our kids?
In addition, more and more time and space is taken with movie and television executives and stars who use Comic Con to preview upcoming productions.
But I’ll admit there is also a degree of silliness.
For example, Deepak Chopra was at Comic Con, promoting the idea we can use comic book heroes as examples of how to live our lives and better ourselves. Of course, he was also promoting his book pushing the same idea.
As you might expect, many people see comic books as just junk read by people with too much time on their hands. And that may be true, but you certainly can’t argue with the impact.