THURSDAY APRIL 22, 1954
UNITED STATES SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
TO INVESTIGATE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY,
New York, N. Y.
The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to recess, in room 110, United States courthouse, New York, N. Y., Senator Robert C. Hendrickson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Hendrickson, Kefauver, and Hennings.
Also present: Herbert J. Hannoch, counsel; Herbert Wilson Beaser, associate chief counsel, and Richard Clendenen, staff director.
The CHAIRMAN. The morning session of the subcommittee will be in order.
Counsel, will you proceed to call the first witness of the morning.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Gunnar Dybwad.
The CHAIRMAN. Good morning. Will you be sworn?
Do you Swear that the evidence you are about to give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. DYBWAD. I will.
The CHAIRMAN. You may be seated.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Dybwad, will you state, for the record, your full name, address, occupation, and position you hold?
Mr. DYBWAD. My name is Gunnar Dybwad. I am executive director of the Child Study Association of America, located at 132 East 74th Street, here in New York City.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have a prepared statement, Mr. Dybwad?
Mr. DYBWAD. I am the executive director of the Child Study Association of America, a parent education organization which was established in 1888.
All this time our organization has worked to help parents gain a better understanding of their children and of their role and function as parents.
Our interest has been, and still is, the strengthening of family living in this country. While we have, of course, a deep interest in all children, our function has been to work with the average family, and we have left the field of delinquency, mental deficiency, and mental illness in children to the organizations devoted to those particular problems.
Therefore, when I appear here today upon invitation by your committee counsel, to report on the viewpoint of our association on the subject of comics, I must emphasize that our concern has not been with the relation of comic books to delinquency in general.
Rather, out of our longstanding work in the field of children's reading, our children's book committee has given attention to the concern of individual parents with the comics reading of their own children ─ to allow or prohibit them, how to guide their choices, problem of management, et cetera.
This, naturally, has been our area of interest, since we are not an agency organized for sociological and psychological research, nor a pressure group organized for social action and reform.
In offering guidance to parents, the absence of any definitive studies of the effects of comics reading on children's emotions and/or behavior has been a serious handicap to us as to everyone dealing with this problem.
We have, therefore, depended upon the judgment of individuals whose experience and professional standing should make their opinions significant.
As you know, these opinions have differed widely. In this area, therefore, as in other areas of child psychology and education, we have found our function to be that of sorting out what seems to us the most authoritative and useful advice from responsible and reputable sources, and of making this available to parents for their guidance.
Against this background, I would like to state briefly what we actually have done in this field. Our activity began in 1937 when the educational consultant to our children's book committee, in a book about children's reading, discussed comic-strip reading referring to the Sunday color supplements.
Mr. BEASER. Who is that?
Mr. DYBWAD. Miss Josette Frank. Her background is an expert in children's reading She recently celebrated her 30th anniversary with us as an educational consultant. She is an educator.
Mr. BEASER. Not a psychologist?
Mr. DYBWAD. No; Miss Frank, not Dr. Frank, as a result of this discussion a few years later, one of the large publishers of comics magazines invited this staff member to scrutinize its comics magazines and make suggestions for improving and safeguarding them for children's reading.
Subsequently, she was retained by this publisher as an educational consultant.
I would like to say parenthetically, Miss Frank is only part time on our staff.
She was asked along with other people from the educational and psychiatric fields, to help work out and maintain a code of practices for the guidance of their editors. This was in 1941.
In 1943 the Child Study Association set about making a survey of all comic magazines, through its children's book committee, in order to be better able to guide parents who sought our advice in this connection.
Our original intention was to offer some selected listing of suitable magazines in various categories. But because of the fluid nature of the medium, the changes from month to month in any one magazine, or in the titles or in the publishing houses themselves, this proved impracticable.
It was therefore decided to list categories, and criteria for judging, which in be useful to parents in guiding their children's selections. So far as I know, ours was the first agency to concern itself whole subject, and we surely found ourselves groping in an uncharted field.
I should like to place this survey in evidence here, quoting from it now, only that part which relates to the subject of your inquiry, crime comics.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, sir. Without objection, this document will be made a part of our permanent files, the entire document. It will be exhibit No. 15.
(The document referred to was marked “Exhibit No. 15,” and is on file with the subcommittee)
Mr. DYBWAD. I might say this study was divided into two parts, an analysis of content and according content evaluations. On crime and detective comics this was said in 1943:
Stories featuring crime, G-men, and police run through many of the magazines as a rule the crimes are on a grandiose scale involving elaborate plotting such as bank robberies, hijacking, smuggling, gang wars, sabotage, and, currently, black market racketeering. The inevitable pattern is that the criminals are killed or brought to justice and the law emerges triumphant. Crime does not pay in the comics. Modern methods of crime detection are played up in some stories. A few are mystery stories, but rarely of the detective type depending rather on speed and gunplay than on unraveling the mystery. Police and G-men are usually (but not always) represented as being on the job and competent.
Comment and evaluation:
Children are fascinated by tales of wrongdoing and evil. The avenging of wrongs and the punishment of evildoers is a child's own fantasy pattern and such themes run through much of their literature as well as their play. The modern setting of these stories, however has given rise to a fear that they may “give children ideas” of things to do. The motivation toward unsocial acts lies much deeper than any casual contact with ideas on a printed page. Nevertheless, lest children already on the verge of unsocial behavior may find here a blueprint for action, petty crimes, such as pocket picking, shoplifting, et cetera, should be omitted. From the point of view of sound ethics, children are best served if crime is made unattractive and unsuccessful. The child reader is likely to be less burdened when crimes remain entirely in the adult world - committed neither by children nor against children. Such crimes as the kidnapping of a child, for example, are definitely threatening to young readers.
Mr. BEASER. I got lost. You seem to say that there is no competent evidence that what appears in the crime comics has any effect upon the child and yet you seem to say also that children should be kept away from these crime comics which serves as a blueprint for a child who is maladjusted.
Mr. DYBWAD. First of all, Mr. Counsel, I emphasize this was 1943. I each time very carefully document the year in which the statement has been made.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Dybwad, you were talking about the strip comics, were you not?
Mr. DYBWAD. No, in 1943 by that time there were comic books.
The CHAIRMAN. Your discussion started out about the strip comics.
Mr. DYBWAD. In 1937 it was primarily strip comics. In 1943 we already had the beginnings of a comic industry. You will see as I unravel this how we very much come later to the point which you have in mind, Mr. Counsel, if I may proceed for the moment, and I will be glad to answer more specifically then your questions.
In 1944, the Child Study Association conducted a meeting which it announced as Looking at the Comics: An appraisal of the many aspects of children's comics reading. To this meeting were invited educators, parents, and specialists in many fields relating to children, comics writer, artists, and industry representatives. This meeting highlighted the controversial aspects of this increasingly popular entertainment medium for children and stimulated further critical thinking.
In 1948 our quarterly magazine, Child Study, published a symposium of psychiatric opinion dealing largely with the question of aggression and fear stimulated by comics reading, radio, and movies.
This article, entitled "Chills and Thrills in Radio, Movies, and Comics" brought out quite sharply the strong differences of opinion among prominent experts as to the effects of these mass media.
May I quote briefly from this symposium, which I also wish to offer in evidence, emphasizing that it represents opinion gathered more than 6 years ago.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, sir.
Again, without objection, this document will be made a part of our permanent records. Let that be exhibit No. 16.
(The document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 16," and is on file with the subcommittee.)
Mr. DYBWAD. I quote very briefly this paragraph:
All those interviewed were agreed on one point: that radio programs, movies, and comics do not in themselves create fears, but for certain children and under various conditions, do precipitate or stimulate anxieties lying beneath the surface ready to be awakened. There was agreement, too, that children differ in their fear reactions to various fictional situations. It was on questions of the harmfulness, harmlessness, or positive value of these experiences for children that the greatest divergence of opinion developed.
Over and over again the experts stressed the need for careful, large scale research studies before definitive conclusions could be reached.
Later that year, 1948, the then director of our association, Mrs. Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg, wrote an article for the magazine, Woman's Day, which I also wish to place in evidence and from which I would like to quote briefly.
The CHAIRMAN. That document will be made a part of our permanent records. Let it be exhibit No. 17.
(The document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 17," and is on file with the subcommittee.)
Mr. DYBWAD. Here are a few paragraphs of interest to your committee:
Like almost any new form, the comics books begin harshly and awkwardly. They must have time to improve and refine their skills and even more time to enlist serious and responsible artists and writers. Since their inception they have improved in the drawing and writing and printing, and also in the variety and quality of their content. But if the ceiling seems to have been raised for some of the comics, the floor has also been lowered in others. Many of the promoters use the easiest appeals to reach the largest numbers, and children are the chief victims, as with all catch-penny undertakings. And numerous producers have taken advantage of the interest in comics developed through their use by the Army for educational purposes during the war. Many of these abominable and irresponsible creations bluntly exploit crime, violence, brutality, and sexy stuff, for a readymade market of men and older boys. On the stands, these are as accessible to children as the familiar comics addressed to them.
We can no more separate the child's reading of comics from the setting in which he lives than we can separate the child from schools or newspapers or athletics or neighborhoods. The parent's task becomes that of managing, not the comics as a problem by itself, but the growth and development of the child.
We have, to protect children against excessive addiction and against the most objectionable samples; and we have to guide them toward more discriminating selections. This is especially difficult because the very same violence and crudities and shrillness that we most dislike and fear in the comics assault our children through the movies and the radio as well.
We cannot fight what is objectionable in the comics (or in other commercial means of entertainment or information) by calling for more censorship or more police guards.
An association of comics book publishers is being formed to promote a code (something that a few of the larger publishers had already undertaken) to guide in maintaining standards. Time will tell how sincere or how effective this effort will be. But we need a wider and a more active and more intelligent interest on the part of parents for making their community a good place for all children to live in.
In a followup of its 1943 comics survey, our children's book committee examined in 1949, 213 magazines and found, along with some welcome changes in some categories, the following, quoted from a report I also wish to place in evidence.
The CHAIRMAN. Again, Mr. Dybwad, this will be made a part of our permanent files. Let that report be exhibit No. 18.
(The document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 18," and is on file with the subcommittee.)
Mr. DYBWAD (reading):
The most regrettable change since the early survey has been the increased number of these magazines dealing with "real" crime, and those featuring sexually suggestive and sadistic pictures. These are presumably not addressed to children, are, perhaps, not even attractive to many of them.
Nevertheless, they are available at 10 cents for young people to purchase, and are prominently displayed on newsstands. Some of these are about as uncouth and savage pictures and stories as can be found anywhere. Any kind of decent self-censorship on the part of their publishers and handlers would have ruled them off time stands long ago, along with their counterparts in sexy candid picture periodicals.
This is the end of that particular quote from that survey which deals more pointedly with your interest.
Mr. BEASER. You made a statement in 1949 that these are presumably not addressed to children, perhaps not even attractive to many of them.
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. Is that quite in line with your 1943 findings in which you seem to indicate that some children who may be emotionally maladjusted may be attracted to these violent comics?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, but I think there is quite a difference between the violence, the aggressiveness which you, after all, find in our famous old stories about the Indian wars and so on, and that type of stuff of which have some examples here from which some children ─ now, I said some ─ seem to shy away because certainly we know there are lots of children who buy comics, large numbers of children, and who, although they are available for the same dime at the same place, very often don't select these comics, but the others.
So this is all we said. We neither said that the publishers might indirectly hope that the children buy them, nor that children will not buy them, but a large number will not buy them.
Nevertheless, the danger exists that there are many children who will buy them and one cannot simply say these are comic books for children and, therefore no concern to us in children’s literature.
Mr. BEASER. In your study did you also examine advertisements in these publications to see whether they were addressed to children or adults?
Mr. DYBWAD. At the various points we have talked about this. Again I must remind you that this was a study published in 1949, and I think this point Mrs. Gruenberg made in 1948 of the bottom falling down more and more, I think is an observation we all have made.
The crime and horror comics of 1949 were not quite as, they are in 1943 and 1954.
Mr. BEASER. It is getting worse you mean?
Mr. DYBWAD. It is getting worse steadily.
Mr. Chairman, in view of your committee’s special concern with the effect of the sadistic and obscene crime and horror comic books which have made their appearance in recent years, I have quoted from published statements of our association to indicate to you that we lost no time in alerting the community to the problems created by these publications.
As a matter of fact, no other organization that I know of gave as much thought, time, and effort, during those early years, to a critical review of the comics as did the Child Study Association of America.
I would like to depart here a moment from my prepared statement to point out that these two studies to which I have referred, are now obviously outdated in many respects. We would not have made the study in 1949 had we not thought that this 1943 study, should be brought up to date and neither study has been listed or sold by us for several years.
In making this statement I am making the statement because a good deal of misinformation has recently been circulated with regard to these studies. We have not used them lately.
Mr. BEASER. In other words, your 1943 studies are now being quoted in support of your horror comics in 1954?
Mr. DYBWAD. They also have been quoted by some people as material we circulate today and most unfortunately in a recent article so described and that is a completely false and untrue statement.
We are not circulating these and have not for several years. They have not even been listed on our publications list.
Mr. BEASER. Your association's position is quite different in 1954.
Mr. DYBWAD. With regard to crime comics; yes, sir.
I am addressing myself to the particular interest at your committee and not to comics in general.
I have shown that as early as 1949 we presented our opinion, publicly and repeatedly, that the problems of the comics called for sociological and physicological research and for concerted community action. As I have pointed out to you; neither one was our function, and it is regrettable that no effective action has been forthcoming from other quarters.
In conclusion, may I quote from a book brought out by the Child Study Association in published by the Viking Press. A chapter on New Arts of Communication includes the following statement which seems to me very pertinent to your inquiry here:
Not only as individual parents, for our own boys and girls, but as a community, to, we have a responsibility concerning everything that reaches children. Private conscience and public responsibility must be invoked to check the excesses in which all of these media have indulged. The willingness of some of the producers of television and radio programs, movies, and comics to exploit morbid interest in horror and violence bespeaks greater concern for profit than for children.
The community has a right to expect that communications of all kinds shall be governed by public interest rather than by survey ratings or circulation figures. “Public” includes children. Not all programs or movies or comics can be geared to the young. But to pile up horror and violence in programs or movies deliberately timed to catch the children’s eyes and ears suggests a flagrant disregard fro their welfare. The combined resources of an informed community can be drawn upon for standards and criteria as to what is and what is not suitable for young listeners and readers. The combined skills of the industries and specialists in communication might well be focused on more creative achievements for children.
Comic books are of many kinds and varieties. Ever since 1916, the Child Study Association of America has consistently evaluated children's books and magazines, published book lists for parents and prepared anthologies of children's stories which have become hallmarks of good children's reading.
Our work in this field has won universal recognition and has contributed not only to the marked increase in children's reading, evidenced by library and book sale figures, but also has helped to achieve the increasingly high quality of today’s books for children.
Similarly our association has tried to assist in promoting higher standards in comic-book literature. Obviously much remains to be desired.
If out of this committee's deliberations there will come new and positive suggestions as to how this aim can better be furthered, a real contribution will have been made to the well-being of our children.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Dybwad. You did, at the outset, mention something of the Child Study Association of America, but for the record would you give us a little more information about this organization its history, when it was organized, what its internal structure is, and so on?
Mr. DYBWAD. It is an organization which goes back to 1888. It has functioned under several names, Federation of Child Study, Society for the Study of Child Nature. Its present name and incorporation took effect in the District of Columbia in 1924.
Since that time we have operated under that name. We are an organization which is governed by a board of directors of outstanding citizens. We have an advisory board of prominent men in the field of education, psychiatry, sociology, social work, and related fields concerned with the well being of children.
Our activities are many. Children's reading is only one of them. We have been concerned with the publication of books and pamphlets and articles for children and since you asked the question, I can present to you a list in which such publications are made available to the public.
The CHAIRMAN. This document will become apart of the record, Mr. Dybwad. Let it be exhibit No. 19.
(The document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 19," and is on file with the subcommittee)
Mr. DYBWAD. Since the earliest years of our organization we have specialized in parent discussion groups, in groups of parents coming together for the discussion of problems of child development for the purpose of achieving a greater competence as parents.
We have worked with mass media. The Child Study Association had the first radio program in the field of parent education. We've been consultants to radio, TV and to other organizations in these fields.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have an annual budget?
Mr. DYBWAD. We have an annual budget, a rather small annual budget for a national organization, and there is no secret about it. Our annual budget is about $125,000, sir which comes from contributions, from foundations.
We have a membership, we have a quarterly magazine, Child Study, which goes across the country into many foreign countries. We have had through the decades, consistently high relations, international as well as national.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you work very closely with the Children's Bureau?
Mr. DYBWAD. Well, we have had consistent contact with the Children's Bureau through the years. We have had contact with them in several fields, most lately with their public health nursing department because they are interested in working with us and we with them, in terms of improving the skills of public health nursing.
The CHAIRMAN. The reason I ask is that we find that they have certain budget needs that somebody has to meet some day and probably the Congress will have to meet those needs.
Do you know anything of that problem?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, sir. I have been, in public welfare for along time. Perhaps the most notable thing which binds the Children's Bureau and us together is mutual poverty, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. That is quite likely a common occasion.
All right, counsel?
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Dybwad, you were formerly the child welfare director in the State of Michigan?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, sir.
Mr. BEASER. Do you have a background in social work?
Mr. DYBWAD. I do, sir, and law.
Mr. BEASER. As a person with a background in child-welfare work, what is your opinion of the material, crime, and horror comics? What is your opinion of their effect upon children?
Mr. DYBWAD. Now, I want to speak slowly and deliberately so that we carefully segregate the various categories.
If you refer to much of what you just now removed from your exhibits, I would like to talk there on two levels.
The one is the individual effect of a comic book on a given child's reading.
The other is the cumulative effect in a community where this type of literature in effect becomes the only literature readily available to children where this type of literature is displayed on every street corner and characterizes the climate of the community.
I think there is no question that this is a symptom, this kind of comic-book distribution in certain sections of our city, and, of course, I am aware not only from New York, but from the Middle West that there are certain stores which feature these and that these certain stores are usually found in areas which are already depressed and typical of many other socially inappropriate matters as the third and fourth grade saloons and all the other establishments which go with vice and crime.
Mr. BEASER. And in the high delinquency areas, too?
Mr. DYBWAD. In the high-delinquency area we find these crime comics and they have, cumulatively, a very bad effect.
Now, I come secondly to the effect of these crime comics on individual children. There I am in a more difficult position to make specific statements because as one who has had clinical contact I was associated for many years with the psychiatrist for the New York State Training School for Boys at Warwick. I was clinical director of the State training school in Michigan, and previously I worked in reformatories where you have the older adolescent group, both in New Jersey and the State of Indiana and/or sometime here in New York State.
I have had contact with literally thousands of young delinquents. Clinically, I cannot offer, sir, a single instance which has come to my attention which, should I say, happened to come to my attention, in which we were able to link a given offense with the reading of that particular individual of a given comic book. I know such statements been made from time to time. I don't dispute them. I have never seen them clinically documented.
I have only seen wild statements without any kind of clinical evidence.
I would say, however, that I am well aware that there are certain boys who have been attracted to these comics along with many, many undesirable habits. They also were addicted to very heavy smoking, they were drinking in the very early teens, they had very aggressive sexual impulses which they acted out, so I would say, of course, I am aware, not from my present activities, but you went back to my professional task, in those years, of the fact that these comics were part and parcel of the life of a child delinquent.
I wouldn't deny that there might be such a connection, Mr. Counsel. I only say so far I have not seen the clinical evidence.
I think we should hope that, for instance, a person like Dr. Peck or others in a position to make such studies would give very serious thoughts to a clinical evaluation of this.
Mr. BEASER. Dr. Peck testified yesterday. If you were running the training school in Michigan, would you as director permit some of these horror and crime comics to be circulated among the boys?
Mr. DYBWAD. No.
Mr. BEASER. Why?
Mr. DYBWAD. For this reason, sir, when you deal with other people's children you have particular responsibility to exercise much greater care than if you deal with your own child. When you run a training school you must try to meet a common denominator of most parents, and therefore, regardless of the fact that perhaps some of these parents would not have objected, others would, and therefore, as a matter of public policy when you are dealing in a public institution, this type of comic book was not allowed.
Now, that has nothing to do, sir, with the fact that we had or had not evidence that they were harmful. When you run a training school, you take certain precautionary measures regardless as to whether you have proof that anything is definitely harmful. This was a policy of our educational group and I assure you in both institutions this type of comics was not allowed.
However, comic books were allowed.
The CHAIRMAN. When you found them they were removed promptly.
Mr. DYBWAD. They were removed-promptly which, of course, was difficult, Mr. Chairman, because I think we might as well say here that this was not just the literary fare of our children; but also of those who took care of the children. Therefore, to what extent there was an exchange of comics between the people in charge of the children and the children themselves, you can speculate yourself.
Therefore, also, it was difficult to effect a distinct policy. In general, our staff had the mandate to remove undesirable comics. The cottage father in cottage A might employ quite different standards from the cottage father in cottage C.
We had no list of comics. As you know from the problem your committee faces, you can't list them, every month there are some new ones. But there was definitely the policy, since there was serious question about these comics, and I think nobody has raised the question that there is a question about these comics, that they should be kept from children.
Mr. BEASER. The question is the extent of the effect upon delinquency of these crime and horror comics.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Mr. BEASER. And also the emotional upsetting of children.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Mr. BEASER. We had, yesterday, exhibited a crime comic in which a child was placed in a foster home. To make it brief, the foster parents turned out to be werewolves and the child turned out to be a werewolf and everybody eats everybody.
As a child-welfare worker, what effect does that have on a child about to be placed in a foster home?
Mr. DYBWAD. Of course, this kind of comic book which, by the way, relates very closely to a very famous comic strip in the newspapers which for a long time was exceedingly harmful, just as harmful as crime comics, by its sadistic distortion of the social-work profession and you know what I am referring to ─ this kind of thing is exceedingly damaging because you are dealing there with a specific type of child, a child who typically has been deprived of the most essential care in the early years, a child who is particularly insecure and sensitive in terms of the one thing he doesn't have, a home.
And, therefore, any kind of phantasy which suggests that a home he might go into might have such, factors is patently terrible, and I must say that a person who prints such a thing must have sadistic tendencies themselves, which are quite unusual, because that is not stupidity.
This is purposeful sadism.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes indeed Senator Kefauver.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Dybwad, what is your salary as director?
Mr. DYBWAD. $10,000, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. Of the Child Study Association of America?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. How long have you been in this position?
Mr. DYBWAD. Two and a half years. Most of the things I have reported, practically all took place before I was with the association.
Senator KEFAUVER: You are also a lawyer, you say?
Mr. DYBWAD. I had legal training. I specialized in the field of criminology and penology.
Senator KEFAUVER: You do not have any cases for clients?
Mr. DYBWAD. No, sir; I am not a practicing lawyer. I am not admitted, to the bar.
Senator KEFAUVER. You do not accept any retainers from anyone?
Mr. DYBWAD. No, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. So your $10,000 is your own professional salary?
Mr. DYBWAD. In New York University, where I am teaching in the evening, is giving what they refer to as compensation.
Senator KEFAUVER. I think I understand what you mean.
Do you have children?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, sir; two children beyond the comic-book age.
Senator KEFAUVER. You were talking about the care you take with other people's children. Do you allow your children to read this kind of comics?
Mr. DYBWAD. Very interestingly they have not read them. They have not read that kind of comic. In other words, while I think it is exceedingly dangerous to generalize from one's own family, nevertheless if you want a case in point, while my children read comics in large quantities they never bought, exchanged, brought home, had hidden in their rooms or otherwise in their possession, this type of crime comic. Whether that reflects on their mother's high ethical standards, I do not know, but this is the fact.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Dybwad, there is something I find a little difficult to understand. You have gotten out various and sundry reports. Here is a report by Miss Josette Frank back in 1949 quite favorable to comics generally.
Mr. DYBWAD. In general, yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. And here is one by Josette Frank back in 1948 quite favorable to comics?
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here is one by Mrs. Gruenberg. This was reported in Woman's Day in 1948, quite favorable to comics.
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. This is the one that the comics industry, Gaines and the people who publish these horrible comics, which undoubtedly do very much harm ─ these are articles that they always quote in support of their position. We also had reports back in 1941, 1942, and 1943; I have forgotten the dates, all quite favorable to comics.
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes.
Senator KEFAUVER. If you want to really be fair about the matter and follow up your testimony here today as to the kind of comics that we are investigating here, the playing baseball with heads, violent murder, cutting off people's heads with an ax, why not get out a report about these instead of just the favorable ones?
Mr. DYBWAD. We have, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. I have not seen it.
Mr. DYBWAD. I think the point I quoted─
Senator KEFAUVER. What report are you referring to?
Mr. DYBWAD. In 1949 when I said some of these were "as uncouth and savage pictures * * * ."
Senator KEFAUVER. Is that from Miss Frank's report?
Mr. DYBWAD. A survey in 1949 in which she participated.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair might say to the Senator from Tennessee that Mr. Dybwad put about 3 or 4 reports in the record this morning.
Senator KEFAUVER. They were all fairly favorable and I have read those you furnished here. Of course, you do say that some of the horrible ones are not good and then you go on to minimize and water it down and say, after all, it is not a very important matter.
What I am getting at is that Miss Frank has written several reports for you.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. Then, of course, Mrs. Gruenberg has written reports for you?
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. Is she on your staff?
Mr. DYBWAD. No longer.
Senator KEFAUVER. Is Miss Thompson on your staff?
Mr. DYBWAD. No.
Senator KEFAUVER. Miss Frank is no longer on the staff?
Mr. DYBWAD. Oh yes; she is a part-time employee of our organization.
Senator KEFAUVER. Who heads up your staff? Who writes the reports?
Mr. DYBWAD. In this particular field this would be Miss Frank, because she is the educational associate of our children's book committee.
Senator KEFAUVER. Let us stay with this a minute. In other words, this supervising, reading comics and giving the position of the Child Study Association of America is to what effect they have upon children, that is in charge of Miss Frank; is that correct?
Mr. DYBWAD. Staffwise. However, if you will permit me, Mr. Chairman, I will have to point out one fact. Throughout the period we have worked with children's books, we have worked through a children's book committee. I pointed out before that Miss Frank is a staff consultant to that committee. This committee meets, every week.
In other words, it is not an inactive committee, it is a committee which meets every week at our headquarters, is the one which actually does the reviewing of books.
It is not so that Miss Frank reviews all books and then passes on her criteria to the committee. It is the other way.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here is one report, Looking at the Comics ─ 1949, by Josette Frank and Katie Hart, for the committee.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right. In other words, that report was written by them and Katie Hart was a committee member. Miss Frank was the staff associate. In the first report you will find that the chairman of the committee is listed, and Miss Frank as educational associate.
Senator KEFAUVER. We all know in the actual working of the matter the committee comes in, the staff director who is giving it full time is actually the one who does the research and reading and has the principal hand in guiding and directing what is in the reports. Is that not true?
Mr. DYBWAD. Senator Kefauver, I wish─
Senator KEFAUVER. Try to tell me.
Mr. DYBWAD. I wish you could within 15 minutes go to 132 East 74th Street where you would meet 20 ladies of varying ages, social positions, professional background, and number of children, engaged, if not in physical, at least in verbal combat about the children's books they have read in the past week. This is an active committee and always has been which meets weekly, which has 20 to 30 active members, nevertheless, and 15 or 20 would be present at any one meeting.
Senator KEFAUVER. Anyway, Miss Frank is the head of the staff that handles the comics and places evaluation on them?
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
Senator KEFAUVER. Who is Lauretta Bender, M. D.?
Mr. DYBWAD. She is a senior psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, which is one of the institutions. I think she is one of the most distinguished personages in the field of child psychiatry.
Senator KEFAUVER. She has something to do with this?
Mr. DYBWAD. She was one of many people whom we in those days asked for their opinion and Lauretta Bender is in this particular study, matched, for instance, by Dr. Alpert, who had a radically different point of view from Dr. Bender.
None of these people was connected─
Senator KEFAUVER. Well, we are beating around the bush about this. In the child-study format here you have, and let me read a little part of this which you put out to the children:
A discussion of children's fears: Child studies have suggested inquiry into the possible relation of movies, radio, comic thrillers to fear in childhood. Accordingly, the following psychiatric opinions have been gathered by Josette Frank and are presented here for the guidance of parents. Miss Frank is educational associate on the Child Study Association staff and consultant on children's books, radio, and comics.
Nathan W. Ackerman, M. D., psychiatrist, is director of the Child Development Center in New York City. Lauretta Bender, M. D., is the associate professor of psychiatry, New York University Medical School.
Then you go on with some other people. Now, it is strange to me how, if you are giving out directions to parents, how frankly your associate is taking the part of the comic-book industry. Why do you not say here that Josette Frank, in addition to being with Child Study Association, is also the consultant on the children's reading, or consultant on the editorial advisory board of Superman, D. C., National Comics, and is paid by the comics-book industry?
Mr. DYBWAD. Wait a minute, sir. Please don't say that she is paid by the comic-book industry. This is not so. She is paid by a particular comic-book publisher. I want to put this on the record very strenuously which is quite a difference.
When I work for the Schlitz Brewing Co., I don't work for the beverage industry. I work for one particular company and I may have my good reasons why I work for Schlitz and not for Ballantine.
Senator KEFAUVER. I know, but you are giving her credentials here. You are giving her good credentials, but you do not say to the parents that are reading this and want to be guided by her that she is also paid by a leading comic-book publisher. Why do you not give both sides of the picture?
Mr. DYBWAD. The assumption is that there are both sides to it. Miss Frank has also been a consultant to innumerable book publishers.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here is Mrs. Gruenberg. Mrs. Gruenberg writes a very, very favorable article in favor of comic books.
Mr. DYBWAD. She certainly does not.
Senator KEFAUVER. Reading it all in all, it is quite favorable. It minimizes the horrible-crime ones.
Mr. DYBWAD. It does not, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. She is writing about Mickey Mouse and Little Abner.
Mr. DYBWAD. It does not. I think from what I put in the record, you could not by any means say ─ Mrs. Greenberg speaks here "many of those abominable and irresponsible creations bluntly exploit crime, violence, brutality, and sexy stuff,"
If that is an endorsement of crime comics, sir, I don't know.
Senator KEFAUVER. But, sir, in the back in her conclusions there is no condemnation. It just says "we cannot fight what is objectionable in the comics ─ or in other commercial means of entertainment or information ─ by calling for more censorship or more police guards. An association of comics-book publishers is being formed to promote a code ─ something that a few of the larger publishers had already undertaken ─ to guide in maintaining standards. Time will tell how sincere or how effective this effort will be.”
The CHAIRMAN. What is the date of this, Senator?
Senator KEFAUVER. 1948.
But we need a wider and more intelligent interest on the part of parents for making their community a good place for all children to live in.
The paragraph preceding that is rather easy.
Now, Mrs. Gruenberg, has she not had some connection with comic books?
Mr. DYBWAD. She had a long time ago, several years ago, sir, as evidenced in the hearings of your own committee. I want to point out that these things have been a matter of public record for years and years.
Senator KEFAUVER. Why up here does she not list the "Director of Child Study Association when it also would be fair to give, parents notice that Mrs. Gruenberg was also on the pay of the comic-book industry?
Mr. DYBWAD. She was not on the pay of the comic-book industry, sir. That is not a correct statement.
Senator KEFAUVER. Of one of the publishers of comic books?
Mr. DYBWAD. Of one of the publishers of comic books.
Senator KEFAUVER. Here are two principal people you are using through a fine-sounding association which undoubtedly some good people are members of, feeling they can do some good. Two people you are using in the comic-book field who evaluate comic books, crime and horror books, turn out to be paid or to have been paid by publishers of comic books themselves. Is that not true?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. Do you think that is a fair presentation.
Mr. DYBWAD. It is a perfectly fair presentation.
Senator KEFAUVER. If you think that is fair, then that is all I want to know about your
association. I think it is traveling under false colors. I think you ought to at least give the fact
that these people are paid or have been paid by comic- book publishers. I do not think it is a fair
evaluation to leave to parents of children these rather favorable appraisals of horror and comic
books written someone who has been paid by the publishers without you even divulging the fact.
If you had stated it in here, then they would be on guard.
But according to all this literature they occupy some big position with a school and hospital and you conceal the fact that they were paid.
I would like, Mr. Chairman, at this point, to read the footnote on page 2.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator from Tennessee proceed.
Senator KEFAUVER. From Dr. Wertham’s book, Seduction of the Innocent, it is footnote 4. I will read the preceding paragraph and then the footnote if I may:
The names of experts for the defense and of the institutions with which they are connected have been printed in millions of comic books and are full-page comic-book advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post and the Saturday Review at Literature and are statements of publishers or their spokesmen. The chairman of the section of the criminal law of the bar association commenting on the writer in the two special comic book issues of the Journal of Educational Psychology found it "disappointing" that in a purportedly objective study, experts do not make a complete disclosure of their interest. He mentions that when he wrote to one of the experts to-write about this, she did not respond.
Then the footnote is:
According to the Kefauver Senate Crime Committee (special committee to investigate organized crime in interstate commerce), the following persons, among others who are thought of as individual critics by the public have been or are employed by the comic book industry:
Dr. Jeanne A. Thompson acting director, Bureau of Child Guidance Board of Education, New York City; Sidonie Gruenberg, professor of education, New York University; Dr. Lauretta Bender, child psychiatrist in charge of the children's ward of Bellevue Hospital, New York City; Josette Frank, consultant on children's reading, Child Study Association of America.
The amount paid ranged from $300 a month over a period of many years. One expert, Professor Zorbaugh, served as research consultant in Puck, the comic weekly. One comic book publisher alone spent $750 a month on four children's experts who endorsed their products.
Dr. Bender is also on this list, I believe, is she not, as one of your people?
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right. She is one of the persons.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Chairman, I just say under those circumstances, while I do not question the personal integrity of this witness, the opinion of the Child Study Association in the comic book field will have little weight with me.
The CHAIRMAN. In the light of the colloquy which has taken place between the Senator from Tennessee and Mr. Dybwad, I think it might be well, sir, if you would furnish for the record a list, a complete list of the membership of your organization. Could that be done?
Mr. DYBWAD. Goodness, sir, this would be quite a task. I think it could be accomplished.
The CHAIRMAN. You have a board of directors, too?
Mr. DYBWAD. We have a board of directors of citizens.
I think I am representing an organization which has worked for 65 years. I should have an opportunity now, Mr. Chairman, in all fairness, to defend not myself, but all the board of directors against the accusations and I am sorry to say the misconstructions.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sorry to say, Mr.Dybwad, there have been no accusations. The Senator has a right to observe.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right, the observations which were made here. Again I emphasize I have no personal interest in the particular matters because I made a point to say that all this transpired before I came to the Child Study Association.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator from Missouri.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Dybwad, how is your association supported?
The CHAIRMAN. That is in the record, sir.
Mr. DYBWAD. It is in the record. Memberships, contributions, foundation support, sale of literature, consultation fees from the book industry because not only have we served the comic books industry, we are serving constantly the book industry.
Like any university, we get fees for our services and we have never felt that there was anything untoward about this.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Dybwad, do any of the publishers of these books contribute to the support of your organization?
Mr. DYBWAD. Definitely. Publishers have contributed to the Child Study Assocation for years and years in varying amounts.
You will find the most distinguished publishing houses in this country over a period of 20 and 30 years have contributed.
Senator HENNINGS. Do a number of the publishers of the so called crime and horror comics contribute to the support of this organization?
Mr. DYBWAD. I think you would hardly find anyone of the crime comic book publishers listed.
Senator HENNINGS. You say hardly find.
Mr. DYBWAD. I can say this for the record, positively. I know of no one publisher who specializes in the particular comic books you have pointed out here as horror crime stories who under the name of his publishing firm contributes.
But, sir, you will not get me under oath to deny that somebody might contribute. I don't know what Mr. X─
Senator HENNINGS. I am not trying to get you under oath to deny anything you do not want to deny.
Mr. DYBWAD. I can make this definite statement, that not a single publishing house under its own name contributes.
I also can say to the best of my knowledge not a single individual connected with this industry contributes.
But I cannot possibly know whether one of these persons or his wife might not be a member. I have no such knowledge ─ a detailed record.
Senator HENNINGS. Then you are suggesting that possibly the wife─
Mr. DYBWAD. To the best of my knowledge, no relative of any one of these publishers, no friend, associate in any way, has, to my knowledge, which goes back to 2½ years, contributed in any way, shape, or fashion to the Child Study Association of America.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Chairman, have we a list or has there been requested a lit of contributors?
Mr. DYBWAD. I can give you an alphabetical list.
The CHAIRMAN. And the record of the board of directors.
Mr. DYBWAD. The board of directors.
Senator HENNINGS. And of the contributors?
Mr. DYBWAD. Of the contributors. You can have a complete list, and members, too, I mean, because in effect they might be the same. This is published information.
Senator HENNINGS. Do you not think it would be to your advantage, certainly, assuming that what you have told us to the best of your recollection is sustained by the facts, to have such a list and have that made a part of the hearing?
Mr. DYBWAD. The only difficulty is that we do not have such a list readily available, but it can be produced. The membership list I can produce immediately because naturally we have them on stencils.
(The documents referred to were received at a later date, marked "Exhibit No. 20," and are on file with the subcommittee)
Senator HENNINGS. You do not feel, then, sir, that your organization is what might be called a front for the publishers of these crime magazines?
Mr. DYBWAD. No more than fronts for Viking, Harpers, Whitman, Doubleday ─ name any one of the large publishers who have liberally contributed over decades ─ and I make this point ─ to us in the face of the fact that we are reviewing books of these very same publishers.
Therefore, there is no differentiation as between the publishers.
I want to go on record, for instance, here and gladly point out that some of these publishers gifts to us have been a considerable amount of money. This is, I think, the usual way in which organizations of this type are maintained and this is the reason why such organizations of a board of directors have lay people, leading citizens in a community, upon whose good name and reputation rests the reputation of the organization.
And for that reason I will be very pleased to submit this list.
Senator KEFAUVER. Actually, you know a lot of organizations get good names to be out in front for them.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right, sir.
Senator KEFAUVER. They get committees of high-sounding names, but the important thing is, who back in the staff is doing the work and the research and preparing the reports and guiding the thing.
So my own observation is that in the field of comics the people you rely upon, three people, and the only ones here I have seen that you base your study on, are Mrs. Gruenberg, who has been in the pay of comic publications; Dr. Bender on the pay of the advisory board, and being paid by one; Miss Josette Frank, who is either being paid or has been paid by the comic books.
So as far as I can see, your comic book section of your child study group is certainly colored by the fact that these people are not working primarily for you. They are working for the comic book publishers.
So that I think you have perpetrated ─ well, I would go so far as to say that you have deceived the public in presenting these reports, coming from a high-sounding association, with undoubtedly a good name, and I am sure you do a lot of good work, by putting out advice to parents, when the principal direction and the writing is being done by people who are in the pay of the industry, or publishers themselves, particularly when you do not divulge that fact.
Parents have a right to look at this, and they say, "Well, here this person, Dr. Lauretta Bender, is professor of psychology at the New York University, and member of the advisory board of the children's Child Study Association," whatever she is.
The fairness to the public it ought to be "paid by the comics," the same is true of Josette Frank, the same is true of other persons.
Of course, you would not do that because then they would lose their nonpartisan approach to the matter.
I think this part of your study is a fraud and a deceit to the public and the public ought to know about it. 1
1. The Child Study Association of America, Inc., Issued a supplementary statement on the relations of the association to the comic-book -industry which included the following: "In 1944, Mrs. Sidonie M. Gruenberg, who was for 25 years-the director of the Child Study Association of America, acted with 2 other educators as consultant- to Fawcett Publications for a period of 10 months. These individuals met with writers and artists, helped to establish criteria and to see that these criteria were followed. In 1941 National Comic Publications asked the association to help them improve their publications and keep them safe for young readers. The board of directors gave this request serious consideration. It then agreed that Miss Josette Frank should accept the major responsibility for working for the publisher. As a part-time member of the association’s staff, the board felt that she should be free to make her own arrangements as to fee. The board also decided that the association, working through it’s total staff, and with the children’s book committee, should assume a supervisory relationship to this project. For tis service, the association has received $50 monthly.” An investigator for the subcommittee found that Fawcett Publications contributed about $1,500 to the Child Study Association of America, Inc., in 1943, 1944, and 1946, and National Comics contributed $2,5000 to the association between October 1947 and November 10, 1952.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would like to hear from you on that, Mr. Dybwad.
Mr. DYBWAD. There are two points. No. 1, Senator, you were in conversation perhaps and did not hear when I very deliberately pointed out, and I want to repeat this very carefully for the record, that these studies, as all our work on children's reading, are done by a committee. I pointed out very specifically that this is a committee which meets weekly ─
Senator KEFAUVER. Just one minute here, sir. Here is Woman's Day, September 1948, put out by the Child Study Association. You were so proud of it, sir, you brought it up here to be put in the record. This came from you, written by Sidonie Gruenberg and shows a couple of happy children reading I don't know what kind of crime books. That is no study by any committee.
Mr. DYBWAD. I am sorry this is not the study I referred to. I put in evidence 2 studies; 1 in 1943 and 1 in 1949. Those are the only studies I referred to here.
Senator KEFAUVER. Why do you not get out a, study for 1954, and talk about these books?
My conclusion is that you are not doing this for the reason, that your people, and perhaps your association, too, are being paid by the industry itself and that you do not want to criticize, very much, anyway, the crime book industry.
Now, I cannot see why, in view of the fact that these horror and crime comics have taken so much a turn for the bad, you would go on and let people quote what you said in 1949 and 1943. Why you do not go out and get another one and bring it to date and condemn, as you have slightly here, anyway, reluctantly perhaps, condemned this kind of horror comics.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator from Tennessee has made his position in this matter emphatically clear.
I would like to hear from the witness now.
Mr. DYBWAD. It is a little difficult for me to have to go back repeatedly to my original statement. I pointed out before, sir, that our association by its avowed purposes is not a social action organization, is not an organization in the field of delinquency.
We have never in any other respect worked in this particular field. Therefore, it is entirely within keeping of our purpose that we have merely, as I have said in my statement, alerted, and I think if you will read over my statement, the combined statements, and they are very strong, they go back to early days when people had not yet popular articles. This was stated at a time when other people had not yet spoken ─ this is a fact I want emphasized ─ we had called attention to these things, but we are not the National Probation and Parole Association, we are not ─ the United States Children's Bureau, and you know the testimony which came to you as chairman of the previous committee from them.
We are not an agency working in the field of delinquency, never have; this is not our purpose.
Therefore, we called merely, as I pointed out in my statement, at several times for community action, but it was not our place to do so.
I said very specifically other organizations in this country, many of which I support with
my own contributions because I have been in this field, are presumably working in this area.
Therefore, when you raise a question, why have we not done something, I think the question might well be put, why has nobody else done anything.
At least we have very specifically and I emphasize very specifically strenuously, you can't say more than these things should be off the stands.
I think that makes it a very pointed thing. We didn't say they might be harmful, but that they should not even be around.
I think we have made our position clear, but we are not a social action group and particularly not a social delinquency group, but others are in this country an therefore, I must say that in all fairness the question should be put to the other organizations who were apprised by us of this situation.
This was the first point.
The second point which I must make is this: the particular comic book publisher for whom our staff associate is adviser, and which is one of the largest publishers of comic books, to my mind, does not particularly, by his products, play a role here in this committee.
For instance, when counsel talked about advertising matter, being aware of the fact that this had not played a particular role in these earlier studies I went through every single issue of the last issue of these things and I would like to find someone pointing out to me one advertisement which is of the nature which Mr. Beaser refers to.
Now, I personally don't think much of the Atlas strong boy, it is poor taste. There are some people who even feel there might be some question how good it is.
But in general these advertisements here seem to be the popsickle, the twin bicycle, and that is about all.
So, No. 1, in terms of advertisements in these books, and I repeat I went through every single one of the latest editions, this being a popular magazine, of course ─ the June and July editions is already there ─ there is not one advertisement which I found was in any way objectionable.
I went through these with great labor, I wouldn't read a comic strip in a newspaper, if you paid me for it. I have never read comics; I never understood why my children read comics, but dutifully appearing before your committee, I looked through these things.
Many of them are in poor taste, but unless you say, sir ─ and let us be very specific ─ that Gang Busters should be off the air because what ever broadcasting company produces this is working on the same cheap level as the crime publishers you are referring to, unless you say that Mr. District Attorney is a radio program which is so offensive that it should be off the air and with the endorsement of many of these programs, by the FBI, by Mr. Hoover, by the chiefs of police, unless you say that, I would say unless you see any connection in this investigation, which counsel assures me was an investigation of crime comics, with a particular publisher to whom our consultant has given service ─ as a matter of fact, repeating what I have said before, that comics to me are distasteful entertainment and that I indeed was very glad when the day came when comics were no longer regular fare in my house in competition with books, but now books alone seem to entertain my children ─ I would say with that proviso before that this is not something to my taste, that we can point not with pride, but with satisfaction, sir, to the job which has been done by that particular publisher ─ I don't care to name his name ─ if the committee wants it, all right ─ but that particular publisher is keeping these particular comic books on a distinctly higher level ─ and again I am careful, I say on a distinctly higher level ─ than any comic books to which your committee wants to address yourself.
Now, I can readily see that some people will indeed say, Gang Busters, along with comics, as well as radio programs, Mr. District Attorney, Mr. Hoover's FBI program, all are potentially distasteful.
I could sympathize as a grownup person with such a view, but that would be rather an extreme view and a kind of censorship which would be intolerable.
But I say as far as comic books go, I am content to stand on the record, and I want to make myself quite clear, bn the record, which shows that this particular publisher has exercised infinitely greater care with those publications.
There is a good reason for it because work is being done. I have in my files letters in which, for instance, our educational associate, Mr. Counsel, protested a certain advertisement, not the kind you meant ─ it wasn't an advertisement about guns ─ but, it was a question of good taste and our consultant wrote a fairly long letter to the company and said, "I wonder if we are not slipping in our code."
I don't think, Mr. Chairman, I need to present in evidence the particular code of that organization. You have it in your files, your counsel assured me.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you talking about the code that was promulgated in l948?
Mr. DYBWAD. No. You see that is why I wanted in all fairness to insist on differentiating the industry from the individual publisher. This is a code, if the counsel does not have it, I certainly shall put it in evidence gladly here, a code for the educators of that particular group of publications. I have no hesitancy to let you see this.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it will be received and incorporated in the record at this point. Let it be exhibit No. 21.
(The information referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 21," and reads as follows:)
EXHIBIT No. 21
NATIONAL COMICS PUBLICATIONS INC.
EDITORIAL POLICY FOR SUPERMAN D─C PUBLICATIONS
1. Sex. ─ The inclusion of females in stories is specifically discouraged. Women, when used in plot structure, should be secondary in importance, and should be drawn realistically, without exaggeration of feminine physical qualities.
2. Language. ─ Expessions having reference to the Deity are forbidden. Heroes and other "good” persons must use basically good English, through some slang and other colloquialism may be judiciously employed. Poor grammar is used only by crooks and villains ─ and not always by them.
3. Bloodshed. ─ Characters ─ even villains ─ should never be shown bleeding. No character should be shown being stabbed or shot or otherwise assaulted so that the sanguinary result is visible. Acts of mayhem are specifically forbidden. The picturization of dead bodies is forbidden.
4. Torture. ─ The use of chains, whips, or other such devices is forbidden. Anything having a sexual or sadistic implication is forbidden.
5. Kidnaping. ─ The kidnaping of children is specifically forbidden. The kidnaping of women is discouraged, and must never have any sexual implication.
6. Killing. ─ Heroes should never kill a villain, regardless of the depth of the villainy. The villain, If he is to die, should do so as the result of his own evil machinations. A specific exception may be made in the case of duly constituted officers of the law. The use of lethal weapons by women ─ even villainous women ─ is discouraged.
7.Crime. ─ Crime should be depicted in all cases as sordid and unpleasant. Crime and criminals must never be glamorized. All stories must be written and depicted from the angle of the law ─ never the reverse. Justice must triumph in every case.
In general, the policy of Superman D─C Publications is to provide interesting, dramatic, and reasonably exciting entertainment without having recourse to such artificial devices as the use of exaggerated physical manifestations of sex, sexual situations, or situations in which violence is emphasized sadistically. Good people should be good, and bad people bad, without middle ground shading. Good people need not be "stuffy" to be good, but bad people should not be excused. Heroes should act within the law, and for the law.
Mr. DYBWAD. It is a publisher which lists our staff member as an associate. These people have come to us with questions.
Again I want to be careful not to advertise the company. I will say that within 6 months time they consulted us on a commercial proposition which was brought to them regarding the exploitation commercially of one of their comic figures with some commercial article and on advice of one of our consultants this project was dropped.
I can stand on this record, sir, and I will say this: if after this hearing today my board of directors would come to me and say, "Don't you think we should put before this employee the ultimatum to resign from that position?" I would say "No."
For this reason, sir: You hardly can say that it is deceiving the public when you allude to a fact which has been printed, now I don't know how many times, because this is not a secret arrangement. This is not a secret retainer some lawyer gets from a company which nobody knows about.
This is a matter which is printed in every one of these comic books so that any parent who sees Peter Pan today in his child's possession knows right there that Josette Frank is a consultant.
Now, I am not a mathematician. I can't imagine how many times it has been printed, but it seems to me quite a strange statement to say that this was done sort of behind the backs of the public.
Senator HENNINGS. At this point, may I ask one question on that point?
Do these consultants who take fees from the publishers turn the fees over to your association?
Mr. DYBWAD. No, sir; and I will tell you why not.
Senator HENNINGS. You do not know what the fees are?
Mr. DYBWAD. I don't know what the fees are. I will tell you this sir: No. 1, very important ─ Miss Frank is a half-time employee of the Child Study Association of America. She is working for us 2 1/2 days by hourly count, you see. So that she is not doing this work on our time.
It was merely felt that there should be no secret made that this was her regular employment.
No. 2: This goes back considerably in our records. I could not perhaps even produce the record, but only the record of board members. When this offer was made there was a discussion in our board of directors as to whether it was appropriate for our consultant to thus be engaged.
Now, that goes back to 1941. It was the opinion of our board of directors that if a comic publisher whose products they surveyed at that time, I mean the board of directors, which seemed to them as unobjectionable as comics can be to an intelligent, mentally alert person, it seemed to them when a comic publisher of repute, who tries to produce a good product, comes to an educational organization and does not ask for some front people, but asks for consultation on a continuing basis, it would certainly be most derelict on our part to say that because there are some poor comic publishers with which this man has nothing to do at all, we should refuse our services.
The association knew at the time that the services of our consultant would be made known in every comic book and they have been ever since.
At one point our consultant demanded that her name be removed from one of these books, and it was so removed until a complete revision of editorial policy of that particular magazine occurred.
The point I want to make also is that our consultant in addition on a regular basis worked with a radio program of that producer, of that particular comic-book producer, a merely to indicate that this is consultation which can be shown on the record to have been active and fruitful.
However. I want to emphasize again this is still an on-going process. I would be totally incapable of being an editor of this kind of publication because it goes against my grain and taste, but that is another matter.
I still say sir, that the magazines of this particular publisher have nothing to do whatever with the subject of your inquiry.
Mr. BEASER. You are talking about the National Comics Publication putting out Superman and so forth?
Mr. DYBWAD. Yes, sir.
Mr. BEASER. Do you know the ownership of National Comics Publication?
Mr. DYBWAD. I am not intimately acquainted with it. I know it is a company of several people.
Again my ignorance is due to the fact that this goes back so many years. It was at the time carefully gone into by our attorneys and by our people.
Mr. BEASER. Would you be surprised, Mr, Dybwad, to learn that one of the owners of the Superman group, National Comics, is listed in the certificate they must file, as F. Iger, and that her husband is publishing this stuff?
Mr. DYBWAD. I would be surprised, but for the fact that a few days ago this was intimated to me. Otherwise, I would be thoroughly surprised and this is a question─
Mr. BEASER. That is material issued by the American Comics Group, one of the owners being listed as Frederick H. Iger.
Mr. DYBWAD. I never heard of the man, completely unknown to me and as far as I have known, he has not been one of the people with whom we have had contact. I have absolutely no knowledge of that.
I again emphasize an investigation was made in 1941 whether at that time such a relationship existed. At that time one should have gone in this. Mind you, sir, crime comics were not in existence at that time and I think we must be very mindful of this, that the statements which we made earlier, particularly the first one, preceded by far the actual crime comic.
Even at that time we warned against a tendency, but this kind of stuff, as you know, sir, is new.
Now, whether we should have had a continual annual investigation by a detective agency of these people, that is a matter of conjecture. We never have had contact with this particular person.
I still say that this publisher here does not produce such stuff, save for the fact that you may object to a killing on Gang Busters or what not.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you sure that this publisher has, as you referred to him, no connection with any of these crime comics?
Mr. DYBWAD. I don't know why this would play a particular role as far as we are concerned. We are concerned, were concerned and are concerned─
The CHAIRMAN. It plays a role as far as this subcommittee is concerned.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right. As far as we are concerned, here is a publisher who produces what would go, I think, with any objective examiner as one of the best groups of comics in this country relatively speaking.
Mr. BEASER. You can't talk of him, Mr. Dybwad, as him. That is owned by 6 or 7 stockholders. One of the stockholders is the wife of the same person who is putting out the crime and horror stuff that you see up there. There is a connection.
Those magazines may be clean. But the same owner, or the wife of the owner, is also putting out the other kind of material.
Mr. DYBWAD. Now, what do you think we should do about this matter, because you seem to imply this requires action. Should we therefore say we are no longer interested in helping this publisher to produce these things?
You see, we are bringing up a new fact I did not know. As far as we knew this was a comic publishing company which produced these magazines. Beyond that, behind it we didn't go.
I don't know whether you know, sir, when this particular woman married this particular man and began to publish that particular comic I think we are going a little bit afield as far as we are concerned.
However, this new fact I will call to the attention of our board of directors and I hope from the minutes of this committee I can get full evidence.
But this does not detract from the work we have done with this; publisher and from my statement that these comics seem to have very little connection with the inquiry of this committee.
I want to reiterate that the function of our organization also has relatively little to do with the inquiry of this committee as far as we are concerned. I would not have come to testify here unless I had the invitation of the counsel and I did so gladly because the particular problem of your committee, delinquency, not comics, but delinquency, is not the area in which we work and in which I am now working.
Professionally it was the area in which I have spent, sir, some 15 years, and, therefore, I have on a personal basis certain competence in the field.
Senator KEFAUVER. Mr. Chairman, just for the record, I see one other here. I mentioned Gruenberg and Dr. Bender, Josette Frank. I find one other here on your board that is also apparently receiving pay from the National Comics. That is Dr. S. Harcourt Peppard. He also is on your board; is that not true?
Mr. DYBWAD. No.
Senator KEFAUVER. You have him listed here as one of the people that you rely upon, Dr. S. Harcourt Peppard, M. D., as acting director, Bureau of Child Guidance, New York City Board of Education. He is listed on the front here as one of the authorities that apparently has something to do with these studies.
I thought the record ought to show that he is also, along with Dr. Bender and Dr. Frank, on the editorial advisory board of this comic publication.
Mr. DYBWAD. Mr. Chairman, may I point out that as we indicated here we went at the time to a number of people, of the very few people who in those days were concerned about comics.
Now, Dr. Peppard, who I think long since has died, was an employee of the city of New York. As far as I recall he has never been even on our advisory board. He was never on our board of directors. He happened to be an intelligent man who early saw comics as something to be concerned with. The problem of I want to point out that in this particular document the Senator from Tennessee has made reference to so many times here, they are all very prominently listed, just as prominently as anything else, some strong condemnation of comics, radio, and others, and I quote, for instance, here from Dr. Alpert who says:
Comics have a thrill, make aggression too easy- and too colorful and in that way threaten eruption of the child's own precariously, controlled aggressive impulse. Fear inevitably follows.
And so on.
In other words, in this compendium you will find just as prominently displayed very strong condemnation of comics, or, should I say, very strong feelings about the bad effects of comics as there were statements to the effect from some other people that there were no such effects.
I think it was a particular contribution again of our organization that it put out these statements and pointed out, and again I say in the spring of 1948 that there was considerable question about the comics and that future study would be indicated.
Mr. BEASER. You are concerned, though, that those statements are now being misused?Mr. DYBWAD. Sir, by whom are they being misused? Nobody has told me they are being misused. You made reference to it in some conversation sometime ago. I would be most interested in hearing from this committee to what extent they are being misused.
The only use I have seen is in an undocumented comment, false statement, in the book of Mr. Wertham.
Mr. BEASER. You yourself said that the 1943 studies are being distributed now as though they were current.
Mr. DYBWAD. I, myself, said to the contrary.
Mr. BEASER. Not by you, but by others?
Mr. DYBWAD. I said that most carelessly Mr. Wertham in his book implied that they were being distributed.
Senator HENNINGS. And they are not being distributed?
Mr. DYBWAD. The have not, sir, and have not been for years.
So that Mr. Wertham who wrote this book takes stuff out of context. His entire book has not one documented reference of our material so that it is impossible for me to go through tens of thousands of pages to see where he picked this particular sentence.
In other words, he has presented an entirely unscientific study which is a mockery of research, said this was being circulated. Our studies have not been circulated because we are fully aware that they were made at a time when this material was not there.
However, I think, Mr. Chairman, we, and I speak with a straight face, should come in for some commendation that very early already, and in the strongest language we pointed at the dangers of these comics.
If you will read over the various statements which I have put into my particular remarks here, you will find that they add up to some very strong statements.
Senator HENNINGS. May I ask this, as a matter of information?
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Hennings.
Senator HENNINGS. If you felt strongly as you did in 1948 about what you felt to be the dangerous trend, the unhappy trend in the nature and character of these publications, why did you not do anything more recently now that that fear has been fulfilled?
Mr. DYBWAD. 1952 ─ that was the reason that I referred to that ─ we once more have pointed this up.
Again, remember, we are not a social-action bureau. We are not the Association children's bureau; we are not the National Probation and Parole. However, to be specific, may I, with your permission, read from a forthcoming book, which is published today, sir, it so happens, by Miss Josette Frank, which is published by Doubleday, a book on children's reading.
Miss Frank in this book ─ and I have to admit, Mr. Chairman, I don't have the page quotation. I shall be glad to document this. I only saw the galleys ─ Miss Frank has this to say:
Despite all that may be said for the validity of comics as a form of communication, one cannot dismiss lightly the other side of the picture. The most serious parental objections are not to their technique or to their art, but to their content. The apparitions to which this medium of comic lends itself are of coarse abhorrent to parents and probably not very attractive to numbers of children.
The fact is that irresponsible publishers have found it both easy and profitable to exploit the taste of a part of the reading public for horror and sex. For the most part experience and observation show that these are not the comics written and enjoyed by a large number of children. Still they are available on the newsstands along with the children's favorites and their lurid covets and uncouth promises of what may lie within may well lure the curious of whatever age.
There is no more excuse for licentious publishing in this field than any other and it is perhaps either more unconscionable here because it is more available than any other reading matter. The publishers have a responsibility and certain of them recognizing the excess to which this fluent medium has been subjected have set standards of their own in consultation with interested psychologists and educators. These standards not only have to do with content, but quality of printing and artwork and they establish both positive and negative guides, what is and what is not suitable for children.
Policy rules out bloody or bat figures, sadism and torture, and ridiculing of law-enforcement agencies. It sets certain standards for lettering and dialog.
This is a quotation by which certainly Miss Frank on April 22, 1954, once more goes on record through the auspices of Doubleday Co., one of the largest publishers, in a book which will certainly once more bring this message.
But, you see, Senator Hennings, who should follow up on this is now the question. What do Government agencies, what do private organizations, what do citizen organizations do who work in the field of social action? That is a question.
But we once more have stated, and I want to gladly submit that Miss Frank has so stated in this book which appears today as ─
Senator HENNINGS. What is the title of Miss Frank's book?
Mr. DYBWAD. "Our Children's Reading Today." Doubleday & Co. And this is not a commercial, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. When will that be on the market?
Mr. DYBWAD. Today. As of today it may be purchased.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Dybwad, in this testimony of yours which has been somewhat extended now, I gather that your main point was to draw a distinction between this type lying on the table before you there, that type of comic and the crime comic.
Mr. DYBWAD. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. That is where you make your sharp distinction?
Mr. DYBWAD. And there is a. hard distinction to make, sir, because for instance, yesterday ─ and I had the privilege of listening to the proceedings over the radio ─ reference was made to a particular number of people getting killed in any one story; that kind of thing, of course, would easily happen in any kind of murder mystery or crime mystery.
Now, I still say that in this age of detective reading, in this age when the greatest of intellectual leaders in this country freely admit that for relaxation they read detective stories, there has to he a very difficult job done and that is, where are the limits of the legitimate matter, Mr. District Attorney, this is your FBI, Gang Buster shows, and this.
Now, I hope you won't send me home with the task of submitting criteria. Still, I would again emphasize, sir, not defensively, but feeling perfectly relaxed, that we have done a great deal in this field, that that was one of the very approaches which we started out with in our first study, to skip criteria because you could not say crime comics are bad, but we tried to set up what kind of crime comics are bad, what kind of fantastic adventures are bad, what kind of war stories are bad.
So we tried to set up these criteria, but believe me, sir, that is a pretty hard task.
I have, at times, after a particularly hard week, listened Friday nights to some of these FBI and mystery stories which seem to gather at that particular evening, and I have had my doubts at times.
Some of it seemed to be very good, and others a little bit more questionable.
But certainly a clear line cannot be drawn. But I would say that I fully agree with you that our viewpoint is that there is a new medium about, not just radio, not just TV, but comics.
Children today read comics, read them in tremendous numbers, millions of them who never get in trouble.
We also have in this very same medium some exceedingly poor, distasteful and I say, dangerous stuff. When I say dangerous, I merely rephrase what I have said before. I will come out quite bluntly here that you may say we hedged on one thing. If you feel that we should have recommended censorship, police censorship of these, indeed we did not do so purposely because we don not think this is a good American method in the first place, and we feel in the second place, with that kind of publisher censorship will never work because the fly-by-night man escapes censorship and the good publisher is hit by it.
But we have felt that community action should be forthcoming, civic action, action through the trade associations, and so on.
We still feel so today. We still hope that out of this committee's work some new avenues of approach will come which will put a definite stop to the publication and availability of these comics.
I will say further that that will be a distinct contribution, not just in general to children's welfare, but I would say more specifically that this would be a contribution to the broad approach to delinquency prevention.
That, I am certainly ready to say.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Dybwad, the Chair wishes to thank you. You will produce for the record, will you not, the list of your board of directors, the list of your membership, and the list of your contributors.
Mr. DYBWAD. That I certainly will.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.
The next witness?
Mr. BEASER. Mr. William Friedman.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before this subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. FRIEDMAN. I do.