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David Hajdu. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 448pp.

ISBN-10: 0374187673; ISBN-13: 9780374187675 (hardcover).
Library of Congress:
Dewey: 302.23/2 22
Find in a Library with WorldCat

Publisher's On-Line Information || Author's website 

Publisher's description: 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 created--in 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 Congress--only to resurface with a crooked smile on its face in Mad magazine.

via the New York Times (March 23, 2008)
via Bookforum (February 2008)

Prologue ... 3
  1. Society Iss Nix ... 9
  2. It Was Work ... 32
  3. Crime Pays ... 53
  4. Youth in Crisis ... 71
  5. Puddles of Blood ... 92
  6. Then Let Us Commit Them ... 112
  7. Woofer and Tweeter ... 132
  8. Love... LOVE... LOVE!! ... 154
  9. New Trend ... 175
  10. Humor in a Jugular Vein ... 193
  11. Panic ... 209
  12. The Triumph of Dr. Payn ... 228
  13. What Are We Afraid Of? ... 245
  14. We've Had It! ... 274
  15. Murphy's Law ... 305
  16. Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Soup ... 319
Epilogue ... 331
Appendix ... 337
Notes ... 353
Bibliography ... 407
Acknowledgments ... 413
Index ... 417

Reviews / Features  See also: Reviews featured on author's website

Advocate Opinion Page Staff. 2008. "Our Views: When comics raised anxiety [opinion]." (March 21, page 8B). [access online]

Akst, Daniel. 2008. "Pulp factions: Wildly popular in the 1940s and '50s, edgy comics aroused the ire of teachers, religious leaders, and lawmakers." Boston Globe (March 16). []

Andelman, Bob. 2008. "David Hajdu, THE TEN-CENT PLAGUE author: Mr. Media Audio Interview." Mr. Media Interviews by Bob Andelman (May 17). []

[anonymous review]. 2008. The Week Daily (April 1). []

Baker, R.C. 2008. "The Ten-Cent Plague: Weird tales, indeed; David Hajdu's History of the Comic-Book Panic." Village Voice (March 18). []

Bartilucci, Vinnie. 2008a. "David Hajdu On The Ten Cent Plague [interview]." Newsarama (March 20). []

Bartilucci, Vinnie. 2008b. "Book Review: The Ten-Cent Plague." Newsarama (March 25). []

Beaty, Bart. 2008. "CR Review Special: Bart Beaty On David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague." The Comics Reporter. Part 1 (April 22 []), part 2 (April 23 []), part 3 (April 24 []).

Beaty, Bart, and Jeet Heer. 2008. "Symposium: Culture Wars." Globe and Mail (March 29). []

Boucher, Geoff. 2008. "'The Ten-Cent Plague' by David Hajdu: How comic book creators tested the limits of content in the face of an ever-changing bonfire brigade." Los Angeles Times (March 16). []

Cardace, Sara. 2008. "David Hajdu on the Great Comics Scare [interview]." Vulture (March 26). []

Carlson, Jenny. 2008. "The Ten-Cent Plague: Revisiting the 20th-Century Comic Book Scare." PopMatters (April 23). []

Clayson, Jane. 2008. "WBUR & NPR's On Point: The 1950s Comic-Book Scare." Hosted by Jane Clayson. WBUR & NPR's On Point - Boston, MA - 909.0FM (March 26). Includes podcast. []

Cremins, Robert. 2008. "New in fiction and nonfiction: threats to wholesomeness." Houston Chronicle (March 28). []

DeLuca, Dan. 2008. "Step aside, Elvis; comics changed it all." Philadelphia Inquirer (March 16). []

Deusner, Stephen M. 2008. "Not So Funny: David Hajdu on Comic Book Controversies." Express (April 7). []

Dotinga, Randy. 2008. "Why comic books scared us so: Captain Marvel reduced to ashes by terrified parents? David Hajdu examines the great comic-book panic of the 1950s." Christian Science Monitor (March 25). []

Douthat, Ross. 2008. "Yesterday's Culture Wars." (April 17). []

Drabelle, Dennis. 2008. "Horror! Suspense! Censorship! A cultural critic recounts how comics were ripped out of kids' grubby hands." Washington Post Book World (March 23): BW08. []

Duin, Steve. 2008a. Cartoonist quotations from Ten-Cent Plague posted on April 1, . The OregonianLive: Comics.

Duin, Steve. 2008b. "'Ten-Cent Plague' illustrates history of early comic-book scare." The Oregonian (April 11). [access online]

Ford, Gavin. 2008. "When Comic Books were the Villains." Star-Gazette (27 March). []

Frazier, Joseph B. / Associated Press. 2008. "When Comic Books Were Under Attack." (February 26). [ - also via - also via ]

Frazier, Joseph B. 2008. "Book talks about when comic books were under attack." Canadian Press (February 26). []

Friedwald, Will. 2008. "The Secret History of Comic Books." The New York Sun (March 24). [access online]

Froehlich, Cliff. 2008. "Browsing graphic literature." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (March 16). [also discusses Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic HistoryJ. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography; Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow; and Hotwire Comics No. 2.] []

Goode, Stephen. 2008. "When nation fought its war against comic books." Washington Times (April 20). []

Hajdu, David. 2008. "David Hajdu: The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America." Free Library of Philadelphia podcast (March 18). [access online]

Handlen, Zack. 2008. [Review.] The Onion AV Club (April 24). []

Harvey, Mary. 2009. [Review]. (December 5). [access online]

Harvey, R. C. 2008. "Another History of Comics Censorship and Ruin." Rants & Raves, Opus 222 (April 30[?]. []

Heer, Jeet. 2008. "How comic books ruined the nation." The Globe and Mail (March 22). []

Heer, Jeet. 2008a. "The Caped Crusader: Frederic [sic] Wertham and the campaign against comic books." Slate (April 4). []

Henriksen, Erik. 2008. [review.] The Portland Mercury (April 10). []

Hodler, T. 2008. "A Journal of the Plague Year." Comics Comics [blog] (April 9). features dozens of comments. []

Hogan, Ron. 2008. "Hajdu's Comic Turn: From Strayhorn to Dylan to the homoerotic in Batman." Publishers Weekly (January 7). []

"The Horror! The Horror!: Four brave nonfiction writers [David Hajdu, David Gilmour, Louis Masur, Mary Roach] discuss their subjects, which range from the surprising to the taboo: creative parenting techniques, censorship, sex research, and racial violence.", episode 3. []

Jensen, Van. 2008. "The witch hunt that nearly killed comics." ComicMix (26 March). []

Kanfer, Stefan. 2008. "Pyrric Victory: A new comic-book history chronicles a war between good taste and free expression." City Journal (May 2). []

Kannenberg, Gene Jr. "The Not-So-Untold Story of the Great Comic-Book Scare." Chronicle of Higher Education, Review section (v. 54, no. 37, May 23; page B19). [access online - subscribers only]

Kaufmann, David. 2008. "Comics: Marvel's Mavens." Forward (March 19). [also discusses Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero] []

Klaw, Rick. 2008. "Readings." Austin Chronicle (March 21). []

Lopate, Lenard. 2008. "The Comic Book Plague." The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Radio (April 21). []

Maslin, Janet. 2008. "The Amazing Adventures of the Midcentury Comic Book Trade." New York Times (March 10). []

Mattise, Nathan. 2008. "Comic books becoming geek chic with movie adaptations." The Daily Orange (April 15). []

Mautner, Chris. 2008. "Comics' history not so comic, new book says". Patriot-News (March 21). []

Menand, Louis. 2008. "The Horror: Congress investigates the comics." New (March 31). []

Miller, Laura. 2008. "Panic in the Pages." (March 24). []

Miller, Roger K. 2008a. "Mad about comics: As the popularity of comics increased in the 1940s, so did the fear and loathing of parents, churches and lawmakers." Minneapolis Star Tribune (March 14). [] See also Shepherd-Express (April 7, 2008): 38 [ - also via ]

Miller, Roger K. 2008b. "'Sick' influence on teens worried 1950s U.S." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (March 23). [access online]

Minzesheimer, Bob. 2008. "'Ten-Cent Plague': Comic books and censorship." USA Today (March 19). []

Mozzocco, J. Caleb. 2008a. "A forgotten culture war." Las Vegas Weekly (April 9). []

Mozzocco, J. Caleb. 2008b. " Sixteen things I learned from The Ten-Cent Plague." Every Day is Like Wednesday (April 11). []

Poague, George. 2008. "When U.S. trembled in fear of comics." The Leaf-Chronicle (April 13). []

Powers, Ron. 2008. "Penny Dreadfuls." New York Times Book Review (March 23). []

Raeburn, Daniel. 2008. "Arts: Back before Spider-Man and the X-Men, comic books were the villains [book review]." Mother Jones (March/April). []

Reese, Jennifer. 2008. "Comics On Trial: David Hajdu's book recalls the early decency battle over that '50s scourge: comic books." Entertainment Weekly (March 14). []

Rosenberg, Scott A. 2008. "Curse of the comics." AM New York (April 15). []

Sabatini, Christopher. 2008. "New in Books: A Review of The Ten-Cent Plague." The Stranger (April 15). []

Salie, Faith. 2008. "Fair Game - Nicholas Christakis, Chris Parnell, David Hadju." PRI's Fair Game with Faith Salie (April 1). [ || ]

Schappell, Elissa. 2008. "Hooked on Comics." Vanity Fair (March). []

Seligman, Craig. 2008. "How Prudes, Senators Almost Killed Comic Books." Bloomberg (March 18). [] see also: The Plain Dealer (April 15, 2008). []

Smith, Scott. 2008. "Book review: The Ten-Cent Plague." Time Out Chicago 163 (April 10-16). []

Stingl, Jim. 2008. "Comic Frenzy Wasn't Funny During 1950s." [In My Opinion column.] Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (August 10). []

"'The Ten Cent Plague: David Hajdu on Comic Book Censorship in the 1950s." 2008. The Sound of Young America podcast (May 2). []

"'The Ten-Cent Plague' Streets Next Week: Strong Press in Run-Up to Release." 2008. ICv2 News (March 11). [access online]

Usborne, David. 2008. "Congress and a comic caper: Popular culture and the American way have never been comfortable bedfellows. As a new book reveals, even cartoons were accused of corrupting the nation's youth." Independent (March 25). []

Wirick, Richard. 2008. [review.] Bookslut (April). []

Wolff, Carlo. 2008. "The Horror of Comic Books: Like communism, 1950s comic books scared the U.S. government." St. Petersburg Times (April 14). []

Wolk, Douglas. 2008. "Scare Tactics." Boston Phoenix (March 24). []

Wolk, Douglas and David Hajdu. 2008. "A TNR Debate: 'The Ten-Cent Plague.'" The New Republic. "Part One" (April 7) []. "Part Two" (April 9) []. Part Three" (April 10) []

Zwicker, Jason A. 2008. "Subversive Reading: David Hajdu recounts the controversial beginnings of comic book history." Charleston City Paper (April 9). []

For many of these review references, we send hearty "Thank You!"s to Mike Rhode & the ; Tom Spurgeon's ; The Comics Journal's news blog, ; and to the members of the .

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This Page Last Updated December 4, 2009.