Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Comic Book Nation
Cover image of Comic Book Nation
Share this Title:

Comic Book Nation

The Transformation of Youth Culture in America

Bradford W. Wright

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy

As American as jazz or rock and roll, comic books have been central in the nation's popular culture since Superman's 1938 debut in Action Comics #1. Selling in the millions each year for the past six decades, comic books have figured prominently in the childhoods of most Americans alive today. In Comic Book Nation, Bradford W. Wright offers an engaging, illuminating, and often provocative history of the comic book industry within the context of twentieth-century American society.

From Batman's Depression-era battles against corrupt local politicians and Captain America's one-man war against…

As American as jazz or rock and roll, comic books have been central in the nation's popular culture since Superman's 1938 debut in Action Comics #1. Selling in the millions each year for the past six decades, comic books have figured prominently in the childhoods of most Americans alive today. In Comic Book Nation, Bradford W. Wright offers an engaging, illuminating, and often provocative history of the comic book industry within the context of twentieth-century American society.

From Batman's Depression-era battles against corrupt local politicians and Captain America's one-man war against Nazi Germany to Iron Man's Cold War exploits in Vietnam and Spider-Man's confrontations with student protestors and drug use in the early 1970s, comic books have continually reflected the national mood, as Wright's imaginative reading of thousands of titles from the 1930s to the 1980s makes clear. In every genre—superhero, war, romance, crime, and horror comic books—Wright finds that writers and illustrators used the medium to address a variety of serious issues, including racism, economic injustice, fascism, the threat of nuclear war, drug abuse, and teenage alienation. At the same time, xenophobic wartime series proved that comic books could be as reactionary as any medium.

Wright's lively study also focuses on the role comic books played in transforming children and adolescents into consumers; the industry's ingenious efforts to market their products to legions of young but savvy fans; the efforts of parents, politicians, religious organizations, civic groups, and child psychologists like Dr. Fredric Wertham (whose 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, a salacious exposé of the medium's violence and sexual content, led to U.S. Senate hearings) to link juvenile delinquency to comic books and impose censorship on the industry; and the changing economics of comic book publishing over the course of the century. For the paperback edition, Wright has written a new postscript that details industry developments in the late 1990s and the response of comic artists to the tragedy of 9/11. Comic Book Nation is at once a serious study of popular culture and an entertaining look at an enduring American art form.

Jump to
Quick Add
Comic Book Nation

Bradford W. Wright

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy
Related

Related Books

Cover image of From Front Porch to Back Seat
From Front Porch to Back Seat

Beth L. Bailey

$30.00
Quick Add
From Front Porch to Back Seat

Beth L. Bailey

Publication Date
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of Replayed
Replayed

Henry Lowood
edited by Raiford Guins

$50.00
Quick Add
Replayed

Henry Lowood
edited by Raiford Guins

Publication Date: June 6, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of Making Machines of Animals
Making Machines of Animals

Neal A. Knapp

$60.00
Quick Add
Making Machines of Animals

Neal A. Knapp

Publication Date: May 9, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of A Centaur in London
A Centaur in London

Fabian Kraemer

$60.00
Quick Add
A Centaur in London

Fabian Kraemer

Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of The Interlopers
The Interlopers

Vera Keller

$60.00
Quick Add
The Interlopers

Vera Keller

Publication Date: April 18, 2023
Binding Type
Reviews

Reviews

A winner... a book that is trenchant, crisply written and absolutely jargon-free, with plenty of enthusiasm but no idolatry—and great fun to read... There should be a place for Comic Book Nation on the bookshelf of anyone who ever read comics for fun as a kid or has taken them seriously as an adult.

Pow! Bam! Crash! Analysis! This insightful and highly entertaining political and cultural history [offers] an intelligent study not only of comics but of shifting attitudes toward popular culture, children, violence, patriotism, and America itself.

At last, a substantive book studying the effect of comic books on American culture and vice versa... [This] extremely well-organized book traces the genre's birth, expansions, and retractions from the 1930s to the present. The fascinating result highlights the increasingly intriguing interaction between pressing events in American society and what was written and published on colorfully paneled pages... A truly worthwhile study of comics as part of American culture.

A fascinating history of comic books that is impressively researched, amply illustrated, smoothly written, carefully analyzed—and fun. It is a serious but not somber study, enlivened with droll humor and deft analogies.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
360
ISBN
9780801874505
Illustration Description
53 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Chapter 1: Superheroes for the Common Man: The Birth of the Comic Book Industry, 1933-1941
Chapter 2: Race, Politics, and Propaganda: Comic Books Go to War, 1939-1945
Chapter 3

Preface
Introduction
Chapter 1: Superheroes for the Common Man: The Birth of the Comic Book Industry, 1933-1941
Chapter 2: Race, Politics, and Propaganda: Comic Books Go to War, 1939-1945
Chapter 3: Confronting Success: Comic Books and Postwar America, 1945-1956
Chapter 4: Youth Crisis: Comic Books and Controversy, 1947-1950
Chapter 5: Reds, Romance, and Renegades: Comic Books and the Culture of the Cold War, 1947-1954
Chapter 6: Turning Point: Comic Books in Crisis, 1954-1955
Chapter 7: Great Power and Great Responsibility: Superheroes in a Superpower, 1956-1967
Chapter 8: Questioning Authority: Comic Books and Cultural Change, 1968-1979
Chapter 9: Direct to the Fans: The Comic Book Industry since 1980
Epilogue: The Death of Superman or, Must There Be a Comic Book Industry?
Spider-Man at Ground Zero: A 9-11 Postscript

Author Bio