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Haunt of Fears: Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign (Studies in Popular Culture) [Paperback]

Martin Barker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

30 Sep 1992 Studies in Popular Culture
Between 1949 and 1955 Britain was swept by a rising tide of panic about “American-style” or “horror” comics. The British press cried out in alarm: “Now Ban This Filth That Poisons Our Children,” “Drive Out the Horror Comics.” As one frenzied columnist protested: “I feel as though I have been trudging through a sewer. Here is a terrible twilight zone between sanity and madness . . . peopled by monsters, grave robbers, human flesh eaters.” A campaign against ghoulish comic books climaxed in an Act of Parliament making it illegal to publish or sell any material in comic form deemed to be “harmful to children.”

But behind the facade of concern for the protection of children, another very different story lurked. This book explores the British campaign by asking some rather different questions. Who were the people at the heart of the anti-comics campaign? Why and how did the British Communist Party come to play a central role, and yet end up attacking a group of comics which were “on their

Product details

  • Paperback: 235 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (30 Sep 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878055940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878055944
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On 3 January 1983, the Sunday Times ran an opinion column article by David Holbrook, supporter of a number of moral and censorious causes. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sinister alliance of Left and Right 7 Jan 2008
Most British comic fans will know that during the 1950s a hysterical campaign was launched against the horror and crime comics imported from the USA.

What's rather less well known is that this campaign was not initiated by the usual right-wing groups who call themselves 'the moral majority' - though they played their part - but in fact originated with Sam Aaronovitch and the British Communist Party.

Barker's book examines the surprising alliance of the extreme Left and the extreme Right and draws out the similarities in their outlook: their cultural elitism and a fear of the working class; and a knee-jerk anti-Americanism and a Little Englander mentality which saw British culture under threat of an unruly, outside force. When socialism embraces nationalism, it's not a pretty sight.

Barker's book illustrates the authoritarian instincts that both Left and Right manifest when faced with popular culture and it is a perfect accompanyment to his other work of censorship and moral panics: 'Action!: The Story of a Violent Comic', 'Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Media' and 'The Crash Contoversy: Censorship Campaigns and Film Reception' (with Jane Arthurs and Ramaswami Harindranath)
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same 16 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Before video games, movies and TV, comic books were the bee in the proto-Tippers' collective bonnets. This book is an admirable attempt to summarise the campaign against the comics in Britan, which actually led to them being banned.
The comics themselves (of which three are reproduced in full and many others in part) seem almost quaint now; the campaigners seem as silly as their intellectual descendents do today. The work is well-structured and never dull, but the writing lets it down a bit - there's a weird undergraduate feel throughout. Still, worth a look for comic book or pop culture fans.
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