Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oscar Wilde:No crime is vulgar, but all vulgarity is crime”.

Kefauver spoke up. He pointed to one of the covers, from an issue of “Crime SuspenStories,” on display in the hearing room.

KEFAUVER: Here is your May 22 issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman’s head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?
GAINES: Yes, sir, I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.
KEFAUVER: You have blood coming out of her mouth.
GAINES: A little.

As Gaines must have realized too late, it was absurd to defend comic-book art by a standard of good taste. Disrespect for good taste was one of the chief attractions comic books had for pre-adolescents. Grossness is a hot commodity in the ten-to-fourteen demographic. Gaines, Feldstein, and Kurtzman were justifiably proud of their ability to reach that market with a superior gross-out product. That’s what Gaines, in his post-amphetamine fog, meant by “good taste.” It’s not what most people mean.


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