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Isabelle Smith

Research Paper
While they may not seem very important, comic books are a very crucial part of society
and have a very interesting history. Society tends to view them as juvenile or not serious forms
of storytelling, but thats incredibly debatable. The three questions that will be researched and
discussed on the topics of comic books and their relevance to society are: what is the history of
comic books, how and why are they important, and how are comic books relevant and useful in
todays society.
No matter how humble and modest their beginnings were, the public was not fond of
comics at all, written literature was held in high regard in a widely educated society, and comic
books just werent up to par. When the superheroes were introduced, kids all around the nation
took them immediately, because comic books were juvenile, no one thought much of it.
However, It wasnt until a child psychologist had gotten wind of the comic book craze had they
been blamed for influencing and pushing children to become delinquents and punks. Frederic
Wertham was said psychologist, and he published the book that caused the overwhelming
public outcry: Seduction of the Innocent (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). This book sent the
public into a panic, and the courts to work, the trials against comics began. These many trials
and many cases ultimately led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, a set of rules and
guidelines for comic books, and if the standards were met then the comic books could be sold in
stores (Jamie Coville). Thus ended the comic book panic, there were still bumps in the road, but
all in all the nation wide attack on comics had quieted down.
Even with the impact comic books made on society, its not easy for everyone to see
why theyre so important. For starters, comic books are a reflection of societys morals and
aesthetics. The best example of this is in Captain America, first seen in 1941, two years after

World War Two had begun. Captain America was the visual embodiment of American morals
during this time, standing up for freedom and fighting for justice, specifically against the Nazis,
as he was used in a myriad of American propaganda images (William Peitz). He was made for
the explicit purpose of showcasing how great America was and how bad the Nazis were,
especially to young readers who may or may not be incredibly aware of how dire the situation
was in Germany. Comic books convey messages and morals, just as any other work of
literature would. Another good reason is that comic books actually help children and English
learners to read, its a more direct

form of written literature as readers are able to see and

associate words with actions and images. Comic books are essentially the older sibling of
childrens books, more complex images for more advanced readers. Stories through images
have been done since the Renaissance, when religious paintings were made to bring the
message of God and Jesus to a largely illiterate public. It helps bring written stories to the
people who cant read very well, who need to learn and begin to associate words with actions
and images for a better understanding of when these things are only written word.
Comic books, or graphic novels, are only becoming more diverse and more creative.
Many artists now have the opportunity to share their ideas and stories, and whats specifically
relevant to our society today is the rise in comics pertaining to mental health issues (Anthony
Farthing). Its an opportunity for artists to express what theyre going through a
nd for the
researchers of mental health topics, an image of how a patient is feeling could say a lot more
than their own words, its not easy to convey the exact emotions through language. Comics
have only enabled the understanding of mental health to increase dramatically, a picture is
worth a thousand words, after all.
With all the reasoning and evidence provided, its clear to see that comic books have an
important place in society, and its high time theyre given their due credit. Well into the future,

its likely that comic books will begin to climb their way up the social ladder, with new
understandings of both the history and relevance beginning to surface. Its not too far off to say
that there will be a time when all ages can enjoy comic books, when they can be researched
and regarded as truly valuable information, and when the field of comics only grows with more
and more aspiring artists entering to tell their own stories.

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