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BAM! POW! Comic Book Expert Takes Down Foe

Sam Howitz
Flickr via Creative Commons

A nationally recognized expert on comic books is appearing at Illinois State University to deliver a lecture that exposes the dubious research of a fierce arch enemy of comics.  Wonder Woman fan Laura Kennedy talked with Dr. Carol Tilley, the researcher who has been dubbed The Comic Book Crusader.

*Dr. Tilly examined the research of mid-20th century psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, whose research with young children seemed to indicate that comic books were having a bad influence on kids.

*All wasn't what it appeared in Wertham's research.  Tilley's research indicated that Wertham invented kids, made up quotes and was generally misleading.  

*Tilley said Wertham had a particular world view of how to create a healthy, moral society.  He believed comics were violent and disruptive to society.  His research has since been discredited, but he was quite popular in the 40's and 50's, appearing in the media to blast comics and how they were turning kids into delinquents.  

*Tilley said that Wertham did not distinguish between violent comics and the more benign publications, like Archie or Casper.

*Tilley was compelled to write about this in order to honor the memories of the kids used in Wertham's  anti-comics work.

*Wertham's assertions helped to pave the way for The Comics Code authority, which made sure that comics were safe for kids.  It was in place until 2011.

*Tilley says comics can foster literacy in children.  She sees great value in comics of all kinds and said that comics can tell important and powerful stories.

*Often called a Comic Rock Star, Tilley has been well-received at ComicCon and is appreciated for her serious scholarship into the history of comics.

*Her favorite comics include Descender, Lumber Janes,  and Rosalie Lightning.  Growing up, she loved Archie and Richie Rich .

*Dr. Carol Tilley is the Lois Lensky Children's Literature Lecturer and is appearing on Monday, March 21st at 7 PM in ISU's Stevenson Hall, Room 101.  Her talk is entitled, A Severe Case of Comics:  Looking Back at a Problem That Wasn't.

Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.