As I sit here, basking in the glow of my computer screen, munching on Edamame, it’s time to reflect on the past two weeks. It’s been a busy time, with the start of my summer classes, and I’ve had little time to pause and write. I’ve posted to Twitter, Facebook, and the new Google+ account I’ve started, but those have all been fairly quick hits, and most of the writing that I’ve been doing in that time has been for my classes.
This summer, I’m taking two classes: History 300B, Historical Writing, and History 394, American Civil War. As a History major, there’s a lot of writing involved, and these classes are certainly no exception, as there have already been four major writing assignments in the two weeks of class, and in the case of my 300B class, all of these assignments are working toward a final paper, which will be 15 pages long on a topic of our choice; in fact, this weekend I’ll be working on another paper for that class: a five-to-six-page assignment, summarizing my goals and sources for the final paper in proposal form.
The class has been given the framework of “crime and punishment” to work within for our papers, and my professor was very interested in my desire to write a paper about the Anti-Comics crusade of the mid-1950s. I was surprised to discover that there has actually been very little secondary scholarship written on the topic, nearly all of which has been published within the past decade, and few people that I’ve spoken to were even aware that it ever took place. Given the fact that it involved book burnings, Congressional hearings, and events that nearly caused the destruction of the entire comic book industry, I found this surprising.
Since there has been so little secondary scholarship on the subject, my professor waived the requirement that I have 8-10 secondary sources and a single primary source, particularly in light of the fact that I’m using nearly two dozen primary sources and four or five secondary sources. Unlike my peers in the class, much of the onus of synthesizing the information is on me, rather than a more recent source to which I can refer. Based solely on my verbal accounts of my progress and my existing knowledge of the subject, however, even before I’ve written the proposal, I’ve already been urged to submit the final paper for publication in the department’s annual journal of student research papers.
I’m excited for the opportunity, and have spent a great deal of time over the past two weeks in the library, where I’ve been researching the events. I’m even attempting to get into contact with Stan Lee for a firsthand account of the events of the era, as he was working as a writer for Timely Comics (which would later become Marvel Comics) in the 1940s and 50s, and I feel the perspective of a man who has spent nearly seven decades working in the comics industry would be an invaluable addition to my work.
The Anti-Comics Crusade was a seminal point in the history of American comic books, as it led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, a form of self-censorship that crippled the industry just as it was beginning to grow. The events that led to that were tumultuous and exciting, and I hope that my paper will do them justice.