In July 2019, Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing film of all time, yet another indicator of the extraordinary and ongoing cultural dominance of comics. The so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe, to which Avengers belongs, encompasses no fewer than 23 movies, eight of which have amassed more than a billion dollars each in ticket sales.
Symptomatically, when the studio announced its release schedule for years to come (the so-called ‘Phase Four plan’) it did so at San Diego Comic-Con International, an event founded in 1970 as the much more humble ‘Golden State Comic Book Convention’.
Like the superheroes they often portray, comic books have developed their own origin story, a narrative in which a despised and marginal genre overcomes state repression before achieving world dominance. In a 2015 Vox feature entitled ‘The insane history of how American paranoia ruined and censored comic books’, Alex Abad-Santos depicts comics as a form created and enjoyed by immigrants and social outcasts. As a result of this vibrant diversity, ‘during the era of McCarthyism, comic books became a threat, causing a panic that culminated in a Senate hearing in 1954’.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, he suggests, that underground comics restored the genre’s edge—and now, ‘with the rise of digital comics, the audiences that read comics in the first half of the 20th century are finally coming back’.
A similar narrative informs Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a long love letter to Golden Age comic books. In it, the (real) anti-comic Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency summons the (fictional) Sammy Clay, who endures a humiliating interrogation from senators as to whether his propensity to put ‘muscular, strapping young fellows in tight trousers and send … them flitting around the skies together’ provides evidence of ‘pedophilic inversion’.
Yet you only need to look at an Australian newspaper of the period to complicate the comic origin myth. Take, for instance, an article that appeared in May 1950—a piece denouncing ‘Captain Atom, Phantom Knight and Secret Agent X9’ as ‘foreign agents … doing their sinister worst to destroy our national character’. At first glance, the attack on comic superheroes confirms the intuitive association between McCarthy-style paranoia and anti-comic hysteria.
‘The impact of these publications on young Australian minds,’ the writer thunders, ‘has alarmed all thinking parents. Protests have been made by professors, clergymen, the Australian Journalists Association, the New House-wives’ Association and other bodies. But still they pour in, spreading their poisonous doctrines of brutality, sadism and supermen.’
Yet the passage doesn’t come from a red-baiting tabloid or a conservative broadsheet. It appears in Tribune, the official organ of the Communist Party of Australia.
Throughout the 1950s, an anti-comic panic certainly gripped Australia, just as it did the United States. Between 1952 and 1955, almost all state governments sought to stamp out or regulate what the Queensland Attorney-General William Power called a ‘great menace in our midst today, one that threatens to destroy the very basis of our Christian civilisation’.
As Power’s words suggest, the enemies of comic books in Australia included the traditional guardians of morality: churchmen, schoolmasters, professors, politicians and the like. Bill Galvin, the chief secretary in Victoria, explained in 1954 that ‘every section of the community has complained of the sale and circulation of these cheap and nasty books and papers, which have not one single virtue to commend them’.
Yet the left as much as the right played a key, even crucial, role in the struggle against comics. The Communist Party, in particular, deployed its unparalleled organisational abilities and its influence in the trade union movement to fight what Tribune’s Rex Chiplin called the ‘pornography, sex, sadism, brutality and illiteracy sold each week on Australian newsstands under the guise of “books” and “comics”’.
In the communist stronghold of Queensland, party cadres contributed to the Trades and Labour Council’s declaration, in 1952, of its ‘complete opposition to the corruption of Australian children’s and adolescent minds by mass distribution of murder, crime, horror and sex publications’. So staunchly did the Queensland labour movement oppose comic books that the TLC placed, on its items for the Australian Council of Trade Unions agenda in 1953, comic-book importation and printing before ‘full employment and national health insurance’ and just after ‘the nationalisation of key industries.’
From the perspective of a twenty-first-century left deeply invested in popular culture, the CPA’s opposition to comic books seems not only profoundly wrongheaded but baffling, almost to the point of incomprehensibility. The campaign can’t be justified. It can, however, be explained, particularly if we start with the American context—itself a rather more complex conjuncture than some commentators recognise. Throughout the 1930s, conservative moralists had indeed denounced comics as immoral and salacious. But the crusade in the late 1940s and early 1950s was spearheaded by a psychiatrist, Dr Fredric Wertham, culminating in the 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent.
The inquisition in Chabon’s novel deliberately echoes Wertham’s notorious speculation about the sexual identities of Batman and Robin, who, the doctor said, may ‘stimulate children to homosexual fantasies’ (the pair did, after all, ‘live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases’).
Wertham’s homophobia (‘even when Wonder Woman adopts a girl, there are Lesbian overtones’) makes him, from the perspective of the twenty-first century, an obvious villain, both ridiculous and sinister—particularly given that the ‘research’ that made him so authoritative now seems to have been faked.
Yet, while his bigotry cannot be excused, Wertham was, by the standards of the time, a progressive, who developed his ideas working at the free psychological clinic he’d established for underprivileged children in Harlem.
By the postwar period, the market in superheroes had cooled. Many publishers turned instead to crime and, later, horror themes. A newsstand in New York in the late 1940s might thus have stocked Crime Must Pay the Penalty, Justice Traps the Guilty, Criminals on the Run, Lawbreakers Always Lose, Pay-Off: True Crime Cases, Crime Reporter, Law Against Crime, True Crime Comics, Official True Crime Cases and many other similar productions.
In 1948, Wertham described for the Saturday Review of Literature the experiences of a four-year-old girl in an inner-city apartment. He wrote about how comic-obsessed boys hit her, restrained her (with handcuffs purchased from comic-book coupons) and sexually assaulted her. They modelled their violence, he claimed, on the crime comics that dwelled lovingly on the murder, torture and rape of women and girls.
It was that misogyny, as much as anything, that led Wertham to propose a ratings code for comics (he never advocated censorship, though many of his supporters certainly did).
At a hearing in 1950, Wertham highlighted how artists invariably drew their hero as ‘an athletic, pure American white man’ and the villains as ‘foreign born, Jews, Orientals, Slavs, Italians, and dark skinned races’. In Seduction of the Innocent he developed the theme, insisting that the ‘characterization of colored peoples as subhuman, in conjunction with depiction of forceful heroes as blond Nordic supermen, has made a deep—and I believe lasting—impression on young children’.
His anti-comic arguments might have been taken up by reactionaries but their appeal to communists wasn’t, then, as counter-intuitive as we might initially think. Slate’s Jeet Heer points out that the contemporary nostalgia for Golden Age comics often glosses over the deeply reactionary social attitudes they expressed.
Nor were the hearings on the delinquency a tacit accompaniment to the House Un-American Activities Committee proceedings—at least, not in any straightforward way.
On the contrary, William Gaines from EC Comics (the company associated with particularly violent titles) responded to the senate investigation by red-baiting the anti-comic campaigners.
In an advertisement with the heading ‘The group most anxious to destroy comics are the communists!’ he reprinted an excerpt from an American Daily Worker article on the brutalising effects of comics. Gaines’s ad concluded:
So the NEXT time some joker gets up at a PTA meeting, or starts jabbering about the ‘naughty comic books’ at your local candy store give him the ONCE-OVER. We’re not saying he IS a Communist! He may be innocent of the whole thing! He may be a DUPE! He may not even READ the ‘Daily Worker’! It’s just that he’s SWALLOWED the RED BAIT … HOOK, LINE, and SINKER!
In Australia, the Communist Party hostility to comic books makes more sense in the context of the nation’s relationship with
the United States.
After the Second World War, the anti-Hitler alliance between America and the Soviet Union quickly broke down. Australia, firmly in the American camp, joined the US-led military intervention in Korea.
The comics imported to Australia from the United States included, alongside horror and crime titles, a whole genre of war stories: Famous Yank, Fight, War Heroes, Atomic Attack, The United States Marines and Soldier.
Chiplin’s investigation—the splendidly titled ‘I spent a week in a literary sewer’—noted the institutional connection between comic-book companies and respectable big business, with, for instance, the publishers of lurid war titles printing with John Fairfax & Sons. With the prime minister warning of a conflict with the Soviet Union within three years, many leftists saw the influx of comics as an attempt to prime a new generation of children for another world war.
‘[I]t would be foolish to expect Menzies to stop [the publication of comics] for is not its object to aid him in his war planning?’ Chiplin concluded. ‘Is not its object to teach our youth to be brutal, to glorify in killing?’
Indeed, the war comics often accentuated their overt anti-communism with a distinctly creepy sadism. Tribune reproduced an example that portrayed communist soldiers dying in agony after an American attack. One narrative balloon explained: ‘[T]he Reds will smell their hair burning as they die, and they’ll feel and hear their skin crackle for a brief second before it turns to ash.’ A second added: ‘… and those of them that aren’t barbecued like a side of beef will feel their lungs burst like balloons as the fire eats up the air and their dream of conquest blows apart in the searing blast’.
The communist anti-comic agitation also had an industrial dimension, even if this was often obscured by the ideological critique.
During the war, import restrictions had fostered a mini-boom in local publishing, one that came abruptly to an end with the onset of peace. By 1947, one estimate suggested some 80 per cent of comics in Australia came from America; by 1954, another put the figure at 95 per cent.
Such was the context for the Australian Journalists’ Association’s campaign against comic-book ‘syndication’, a practice that meant comics and other publications were imported for the local market in the form of 16 mm film, thus avoiding the employment of more expensive Australian talent.
Unfortunately, for the most part, the agitation in the labour movement deliberately presented its industrial objectives in cultural terms. For instance, the AJA entitled the pamphlet it circulated Sin in syndication, bang! bang! The document outlined the effects of syndication on local artists but it concentrated as much or more on the moral threat supposedly posed by comics.
‘Apathy towards the needs of the writer and artist,’ it explained, ‘the swamping of a reading market with materials so cheap and trashy both in context and price that the local writer has no chance to compete—these are the things that rob our country of its best people. The writer and artist who is prepared to set down Australian contemporary life must be encouraged—he is the man who can show how we can live and think and act.’
Contemporary readers will note the similarities with more recent cultural protectionist interventions: think of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s Make it Australia campaign with its slogan, ‘We want Australian stories told on Australian screens by us, to us, about us’.
The Communist International proclamation of the Popular Front in 1934 had required individual communist parties to back ‘progressive’ bourgeois elements, with the struggle against fascism and support of the Soviet Union taking precedence over traditional militancy. All over the world, communists extolled a patriotism they’d formerly shunned and now sought rapprochement with parties they’d previously denounced as hopelessly reactionary.
In Australia, the new orientation allowed the Communist Party to extoll the cultural nationalism that had prevailed in the labour movement since the days of the Bulletin. From the 1930s on, communists, too, declared themselves Australianists and sought to associate contemporary struggles with nationalist iconography.
Consider Len Fox’s contribution to the anti-comic campaign, a poem published in Tribune in 1953. Fox writes of visiting a bookshop and asking for Australian authors such as Henry Lawson, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Tom Collins, Eleanor Dark and Bernard O’Dowd. The proprietor responds by calling him ‘a nark’ and ‘not right in the head’. Instead of local novels, the bookseller offers American comics, saying:
We’ve Nightmare Horrors and Sexy Looks,
And Terrors of War and Ruddy Gore.
And True Romance and Criminal Crooks,
And Superman and Orphan Ann.
And the Headless Killer and Dirty Dan,
And Jungle Dame and Passion’s Flame
And Wall Street Mame and Women Are Game
And a thousand others just the same.
It was a rhetoric widely used among the progressive intelligentsia. Meanjin’s Clem Christesen, for instance, took up the AJA’s cause, promoting its pamphlet and complaining, ‘Australia, in common with most other Western nations, is being assaulted by trash on an unprecedented scale … Surely any country has a right to protect its own culture from being perverted and corrupted by a debased form of a foreign culture.’
Then, as now, the presentation of a labour dispute as a defence of national culture offered nothing to unemployed artists. They had been laid off by Australian businesses making decisions according to the logic of profit. A campaign to save jobs required a confrontation with local employers, not an appeal to supposedly ‘shared values’. Unsurprisingly, conditions in Australian publishing did not improve.
Moreover, in a country still committed to ‘White Australia’, slogans about protecting locals from ‘debased’ foreign trash could only be reactionary. Prior to the war, when radical nationalists had brandished names like Lawson and O’Dowd, they had done so in opposition to a predominantly Anglophile ruling class, presenting the Australian writers of the 1890s as an alternative to the culture and politics of the British Empire. But, in 1941, prime minister John Curtin had signalled a major realignment of Australian foreign policy, writing in the Melbourne Herald that ‘without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with Britain’.
The desperate exigencies of the conflict—and the manifest weakness of Britain—temporarily silenced any unease about the shift away from an old empire towards a new one. With the war over, however, the influx of American mass entertainment (of which comic books were a particularly visible manifestation) made the cultural implications of the new orientation difficult to ignore.
Anti-Americanism thus appealed to a much broader constituency than the old Australianism, since Anglophiles and other conservatives could also blame comics for the changing landscape. The Adelaide Catholic paper Southern Cross might have urged its readers to ‘pray for the conversion of Russia’ and ‘attend … union meetings and fight against communism, which threatens our freedom’. On comic books, however, it presented an argument almost identical to that found in Tribune. ‘For quite some time,’ it explained:
thinking people have labelled the American syndicated comic book an evil influence. They have recognised its dulling effect on the mind of the young; its negative value where culture and education are concerned. More so, they have deplored its frequent pictorial excursions into violence and sex, with recurring emphasis on undressed women and brutal torture.
Why didn’t the parallels between the communist perspective and that of avowed anti-communists cause party members alarm? With the onset of the Cold War, the anti-communist Industrial Groups had begun—as the Southern Cross article suggested—organising within the trade unions. The CPA’s state executive member Cecil Sharpley deserted the organisation and published a seven-part denunciation for the Herald (later collected as ‘I was a communist leader’). That led, in rapid succession, to a Royal Commission into Communism and then Menzies’ two attempts to declare the party illegal.
The political isolation of the Communist Party made alliances—on whatever basis—an attractive proposition. Opposition to comic books provided a rare opportunity to participate in a ‘broad campaign’, one that, on its own terms, proved tremendously effective.
In Queensland, the TLC prepared a leaflet calling on state and federal governments to ban what it called ‘mind-destroying trash’, a document it circulated, as Tribune reported with satisfaction, to a staggering array of constituencies, ranging from ‘Catholic and non-Catholic church groups’ to ‘MPs, aldermen, the Brisbane City Council’ and even ‘Chambers of Commerce’.
Attorney-General William Power duly introduced the Objectionable Literature Bill of March 1954—a rare example of the Communist Party influencing legislation at the height of the Cold War. Yet, when Power labelled ‘comic books a great menace in our midst today, one that threatens to destroy the very basis of our Christian civilisation’, his language should have been an indication of what precisely this ‘victory’ entailed.
His bill created a new censorship agency, the Queensland Literature Board of Review. As a result, rather than undercutting American commercialism, the anti-comic book agitation culminated in a strengthening of the state. Instead of promoting the high culture that Christesen craved, the campaign contributed to the repressive climate that pervaded Queensland for the rest of the century.
The strategy proved similarly maladroit in respect of comic-book sexism. Since the 1920s, the Communist Party had been at the forefront of campaigns for gender equity. In the 1950s, it operated predominantly through the Union of Australian Women, a group that, as Tom O’Lincoln says in his history of the CPA, ‘was far in advance of any other group of women in Australian society at that time’.
But the consolidation of Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union in the 1930s had led to a marked shift on communist attitudes to sexuality. The so-called ‘Stalin revolution’ had re-legitimated traditional family values not only in Russia but throughout the worldwide movement, with the result that, by the 1950s, communist-led groups such as the UAW—which fought tirelessly for equal pay—adopted a socially conservative rhetoric of ‘decency’ in respect of sex.
In a 1953 letter to the Newcastle Herald, for instance, the UAW’s Barbara Curthoys explained how the comic depiction of a world ‘where violence reigns supreme’ was ‘made all the more objectionable by the sexual suggestiveness of many of the comics, where gangsters’ molls with exaggerated breasts and voluptuous thighs are represented as typical women’. 
Yet Curthoys had participated in a public meeting where the other speakers objected not so much to comic-book sexism as to comic-book sex. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate described the event as ‘A fight to ban “Filthy” comic books’, and quoted a Fr B. Kelly railing against ‘indecent, salacious and pornographic literature’.
The tacit alliance of feminists and social conservatives against comic books anticipated the convergence of anti-porn feminists and the religious right during the mid 1980s—and with similar results.
In response to the public outrage, the comics manufacturers devised their own various Codes of Ethics. But rather than addressing sexism, the codes responded to the conservative critique of moralists, in ways that further reinscribed gendered values.
Horwitz Inc, a company that reprinted American comics alongside its own original material, thus pledged that its juvenile oeuvre would henceforth contain no references to sex whatsoever—and that, moreover, ‘where a female must be portrayed as essential to the plot, her appearance should be limited to absolute necessity’. In teenage comics, ‘no intimacy other than a wholesome embrace [could] be exchanged by the characters’, while divorce was to be avoided as ‘unsettling to the teenage mind’.
Thus a campaign informed by a desire (at least on the part of progressives) to oppose sexism succeeded in eliminating any suggestion of female agency. The Horwitz code illustrated just how misguided the CPA’s anti-comic agitation was on almost every level. As well as promising to employ ‘faultless grammar’ and eschew slang (‘occasional licences as in idioms like “Giddup Silver, let’s hit the trail” are permissible’), the company declared that ‘respect for proper authority must be instilled at every opportunity’. It decreed that law-enforcement officers (‘from park rangers to Police Commissioners’) were to be ‘portrayed as highly respected citizens doing an essential job in a capable way’ and explained, by way of example, that ‘the time-honoured private “eye” should not run mental rings around the local constable’.
Comic books did not become more progressive over the course of the 1950s. They became self-consciously more conservative, even as they eschewed violence and sex.
Much of the rhetoric of the anti-comic campaign took for granted that the books affected their readers in fairly uncomplicated ways. The staged confessions of American prisoners in Korea had popularised the notion of ‘brainwashing’, and commentators discussed the effects of the new mass media in similar terms. The power of Wertham’s book came from the repeated anecdotes he presented, in which youths read about lurid acts and thus committed them.
Of course, popular culture doesn’t work like that. Jill Lepore’s book on Wonder Woman describes how readers relate to comic-book heroes in complex, contradictory and often counterintuitive ways, so that, for instance, a character as a male fantasy might be received as a feminist subversion. That ambiguity has implications for political interventions into pop culture, today as in the past.
In Seduction of the Innocent, Wertham cites a 12-year-old African-American girl objecting to the portrayal of what she called ‘the colored people’ in comic books. ‘The way they make them I never seen before,’ she said, ‘their hair and big nose and the English they use.’ The passage sounds very contemporary, given the ubiquity of debates about representation in comics and other pop-culture genres today. Quite reasonably, progressives insist on the importance of gender and racial diversity in comics and other genres. Yet it’s rare for critics to explain how the cultural representation of oppressed groups overcomes oppression in society itself.
It’s useful, then, to look at the aesthetic ideas informing the Communist Party in the 1950s—theories with obvious weaknesses but also certain strengths. Stalin famously described novelists as ‘engineers of the human soul’ and the Stalinist theory of socialist realism favoured ‘typicality’ and ‘positive heroes’. Communists tended, then, to think that positive portrayal of working-class militants in recognisable situations mattered because they might inspire working-class people in reality.
But that approach prevented them from grasping what the fantastical scenarios and lurid themes of comics might mean to their fans. For instance, Mark Finnane points out that the controversy over comic books coincided with the concept of the ‘teenager’ emerging as a distinct social category.
‘Much of the apparent absurdity which characterises responses to the comics’, he argues, ‘springs from the disjuncture between the emergence of a specialised market oriented to children and adolescents and the limits of popular or intellectual discourse in comprehending it.’
The criminality and horror that so shocked Wertham might have appealed to young readers precisely as a rebuff to an authority represented, most immediately, by their parents, just as the violence of war comics might have attracted those yearning to escape suburban conformity.
The inability of the CPA to recognise—much less relate to—the teenage rebellion of the 1950s foreshadowed its later disorientation during the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and the 1970s.
Yet, for all its faults, the Communist Party did offer an organisational intervention into culture, in a way that’s rarely seen today.
‘Something as big as a bushfire has started in Melbourne and spread to Sydney,’ declared Tribune in 1952. ‘But it isn’t a fire. It doesn’t want to burn anything (unless it’s some of those American comics spreading pornography and race hatred and war talk).’
The piece celebrated the launch of the Australasian Book Society, an organisation inspired by the success of Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory and Eric Lambert’s The Twenty Thousand Thieves. Funded by subscriptions contributed (for the most part) by workers in the trade unions, the ABS sought to create progressive books for working-class readers.
Only a year later, the party leadership launched a savage attack on the ABS for publishing the Tossed and Blown trilogy by Sally and Frank Bannister. The first volume did not, it was argued, feature the requisite ‘positive hero’ but instead portrayed its working-class protagonists in an unflattering fashion. In Tribune, Len Fox explained, ‘It’s a false idea to show men squashing lice in a filthy jungle, or men involved in commercial rackets, and to say this is realism, this is progressive …’
In the weeks that followed, party members weighed in, attacking the book as ‘degenerate’, as ‘bad writing’ and, tellingly, for exerting an ‘influence on many people [that] would be the same as vicious comics on children’. The terms of the argument—and the authoritarianism of the leadership’s intervention in it—reveal the problems with the party’s approach to culture. Yet the fact that the debate took place at all illustrates the CPA’s considerable strengths.
The ABS was, after all, part of an array of communist-backed literary bodies that included the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Writers’ League, the Realist Writers’ Groups and the party bookshops in all the major cities. That infrastructure allowed communists to relate to cultural debates in ways that extended beyond the passive consumption of aesthetic commodities.
The party encouraged working-class men and women to write novels; it fostered an audience for those novels and a vocabulary with which to discuss them. As John Docker says about the participants in the Tossed and Blown debate:
They felt confident as self-educated working-class people that they had the ability and right to discuss questions of typicality in ‘character’ or how novels should be constructed in realist terms, or to compare recent realism to the strengths and limitations of Lawson’s 1890s realism. Further they felt that the Australasian Book Society was their society—that they had the right to read and discuss and criticise ABS books—that this right was not the exclusive privilege of specialised ‘literary critics’ …
It is very difficult to think of how an equivalent discussion might take place today. The organisational strength of the Communist Party gave cultural interventions an obvious purchase, making them very different from, say, arguments in contemporary fandom. Which is not to defend the CPA’s disastrous campaign against comic books. On the contrary, a recognition of the institutions the party created only makes the anti-comic crusade seem more calamitous, simply because it allows one to imagine how things could have been otherwise.
A similar organisation devoid of Stalinist dogma might, for instance, have mounted a challenge to the racism, sexism and militarism of the commercial comic-book publishers, even as it embraced the innovation, accessibility and dynamism of a new medium.
What would have resulted had the cultural infrastructure of the CPA—and, indeed, the broader labour movement—been devoted not to the suppression of comics but to the fostering of their development on a democratic and progressive basis?
The development of the humble comic book into a multibillion-dollar industry makes that question of more than historic interest. •
Jeff Sparrow is a writer, editor and broadcaster.
 Sarah Whitten, ‘“Avengers: Endgame” is now the highest-grossing film of all time, dethroning “Avatar”’, CNBC, 21 July 2019, <https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/21/avengers-endgame-is-the-highest-grossing-film-of-all-time.html>.
 Sarah Whitten, ‘Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, a decade later it’s made more than $18 billion at the global box office’, CNBC, 21 July 2019, <https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/21/disney-has-made-more-than-18-billion-from-marvel-films-since-2012.html>.
 Alex Abad-Santos, ‘The insane history of how American paranoia ruined and censored comic books’, Vox, 13 March 2015, <https://www.vox.com/2014/12/15/7326605/comic-book-censorship>.
 Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Fourth Estate, 2000, p. 16.
 ‘Tragic Comics’, Tribune, 24 May 1950, p. 6.
 Graeme Osborne, ‘Comics discourse in Australia and Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent’, in John A. Lent, Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-comics Campaign, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, London, 1999, p. 164.
 Osborne, ‘Comics discourse in Australia’, p. 165.
 Rex Chiplin, ‘I spent a week in a literary sewer’, Tribune, 11 November 1953, p. 8.
 Mark Finnane, ‘Censorship and the Child: Explaining the comics campaign’, Australian Historical Studies 13 (92), April 1989, p. 229.
 Finnane, ‘Censorship and the Child’, p. 233.
 Carol L. Tilley, ‘Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics’, Information & Culture: A Journal of History 47 (4) (2012), pp. 383–413.
 David Hajdu, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008, p. 110.
 Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Scribe, 2015, p. 265.
 Hajdu, The Ten-Cent Plague, p. 253.
 John Docker, ‘Culture, Society and the Communist Party’ in Ann Curthoys and John Merritt (eds.), Australia’s First Cold War 1945-1953, Vol. 1: Society, Communism and Culture. North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin Australia, 1986, p. 199.
 Osborne, ‘Comics discourse in Australia’, p. 158.
 Australian Journalists’ Association (comp.), Sin in syndication, bang! bang! A cultural crime wave that menaces Australia!, Sydney, 1947.
 Sydney Tribune, 27 May 1953, p. 7.
 Richard White, ‘“Combating Cultural Aggression”: Australian Opposition to Americanisation’. Meanjin, Vol. 39, No. 3, Oct 1980, p. 282.
 John Ryan, Panel by Panel: A History of Australian Comics, Cassell, Stanmore, NSW, 1979, p. 210.
 ‘Queensland in action on comics’, Tribune, 26 August 1953, p. 12.
 Tom O’Lincoln, Into the Mainstream: The Decline of Australian Communism, North Carlton, [Vic.]: Red Rag Publications, 2009, p. 93.
 Jeff Sparrow, Money Shot, Scribe, 2012, p. 165.
 Peter Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition: 100 Years of Censorship in Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1974, p. 165.
 Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, p. 165.
 Lepore, The Secret History, p. 268.
 Finnane, ‘Censorship and the Child’, p. 244.
 Docker, ‘Culture, Society and the Communist Party’ in Ann Curthoys and John Merritt (eds.), Australia’s First Cold War 1945-1953, Vol. 1: Society, Communism and Culture. North Sydney: George Allen & Unwin Australia, 1986, p. 212.
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