Who do you think the most dastardly comic-book villain of all time is? Dr. Doom perhaps? Maybe Lex Luthor? Galactus? The Joker?
You see, back in the ‘50s Wertham crusaded against comic books as dangerous to children. His best-known book was Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which set off a U.S. Congressional inquiry into the comic book industry that eventually led to the creation of the “Comics Code.” The Code outlawed any sort of graphic depiction of sex, violence, drug use and crime. For 57 years it served as a de facto censor of the comic book industry and killed off E.C. Comics’ line of popular horror comics. Fortunately, we no longer suffer under the Code, with DC Comics and Archie Comics being the last major publishers to discontinue its use this very year.
But what if history has it all wrong? What if, rather than a villain, Dr. Wertham was a reluctant hero? What if the Code was created by a clandestine group of monster hunters as a means to save our souls, not censor our entertainment? What if comics actually did make kids evil? These questions are raised and addressed by Christian Sager and E.C. Steiner’s webcomic Think of the Children.
Think of the Children is a thought-provoking, satirical, horror webcomic that takes an alternative view of the events leading to the creation of the Comics Code. Sager and Steiner’s work is like a twisted Twilight Zone episode where reading a comic can turn you into a Lovecraftian-leviathan, and where U.S. Senators are forced to invoke their Second Amendment rights to save civilization from an impending apocalypse. Through it all, readers are still left questioning who the real monsters are in the story.
The art is crisp black and white, and is reminiscent of old-time, midnight monster movies. This sets an eerie tone for the story as it unfolds in only a brisk 24 pages. With great art and a tight script, I was sad that it had to end so soon. The concept is such a unique and engaging idea that there are probably a lot more stories to tell if the authors ever decide to revisit this world again.
The webcomic is highly recommended and can be read at www.comicsmakekidsevil.com. (NOTE: Don’t miss the section on “The Comics Code, 1954” for some additional scary reading).