10 Comic Books That Made A HUGE Impact In The Real World

2. The Book That Nearly Killed Comics - Crime SuspenStories #22

Crime SuspenStories #22
EC Comics

On April 21 and 22, 1954, comic books came dangerously close to disappearing forever and the cover of Crime SuspenStories #22 played a key role in that barely averted disaster. Senate hearings of the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency led by Senator Estes examined the potentially harmful effects of reading comics on the nation's youth.

On the side against comics was Dr. Fredric Wertham, a former head psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, whose book Seduction of the Innocent took superheroes to task for the out-of-control behavior of teenage males. He believed that the depictions of violence, horror, or, in his mind, the homosexual behavior of comic heroes, translated directly into the same in teenage boys.

Appearing for comics was William Gaines, whose EC Comics was specializing in horror comics at the time. Gaines was asked directly about the cover of Crime SuspenStories #22 and if it was in “good taste”. Of course, he said, “Yes I do, for a horror comic”, and then went on to detail how that cover could have been made in bad taste.

Gaines' testimony didn’t help and, in fact, his dismissive demeanor hurt the cause. To stop governmental control, the industry came up with the self-censoring Comics Code Authority which closed down the horror publishers and sanitized comics stories for decades.


John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.