Sept. 21, 2012
-- LAS VEGAS - On display inside Alternate Reality Comics (4110 S. Maryland Parkway) from Oct. 26 to Nov. 28, "Seduction of the Innocent" -- named directly after the infamous book by Dr. Fredric Wertham that effectively changed the comic industry for most of the latter 20th Century -- is a visual exhibition intended to both educate its viewers and illuminate some of the darker corners in the history of comic book censorship.
With the prominence - or is it ubiquity? - of comic book-spawned properties today in popular culture, it might not even occur to the casual consumer of these intellectual properties that the four-color fantasies played out in the pages of what is perhaps modern pop culture's most taken-for-granted medium have been subject to some of the most controversial and socially redefining cases of censorship the United States has ever seen. Before video games were blamed for inciting violence in our youth, before the Parents Music Resource Center made rock 'n' roll the poster child for Satan worship, and even before Senator Joseph McCarthy ramped up the Red Scare in Washington and Hollywood alike, it was the comic book industry that put fear into the hearts of parents, psychologists and religious leaders across our great nation.
Produced in conjunction with the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, "Seduction of the Innocent" presents what amounts to the "tent-pole" events and instances of censorship in the 80-year existence of the American comic book. However, those moments captured via reproductions of rare and varied comic book covers, photographs and artwork barely scratch the surface of a rich history filled with tales of struggling, underpaid immigrants, book burnings led by righteous schoolchildren, government witch hunts, greedy, self-styled publishing Svengalis, and as much drama as you'd find in an Edna Ferber novel.
The opening reception for "Seduction of the Innocent," held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, will double as a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium. A limited edition print designed by local comics creator/publisher Pj Perez will be available for sale at the opening, with all proceeds benefiting the CBLDF, as well as those from sales of raffle tickets and special T-shirts at the event.