Diagram for Delinquents Update #19:

For Good

Wertham with Children at Lefargue

One question looming over our documentary, and it’s certainly a controversial one (especially for longtime comics readers like myself) is: was Wertham right?

A simple question indeed, but one that has many more questions packed up in it:

Were his efforts in earnest?
Were they realized in the best way?
Did he understand comics?
Did he perform ethical, honest research?
Were his scientific methods valid?
What was really going on in America that played a role in the increase in juvenile delinquency?
What was happening in the business of comics behind closed doors?
Was the decline in comic book sales the industry’s or Wertham’s fault? Or neither?

These are only the tip of the comics heap. Our documentary must answer these and many more questions if we are to gain a richer understanding of this time in comics history.

But… there is no denying that Wertham was right about some very important issues in American history. The impact of which has made us a better, fuller nation. (Below: Louis Redding, local attorney in the Delaware cases, with Thurgood Marshal.)

Louis Redding, local attorney in the Delaware cases, with Thurgood Marshall

For instance, Fredric Wertham gave testimony that was used in Delaware’s Bulah v. Gebhart and Belton v. Gebhart cases to end segregation. Wertham’s testimony and the court’s decision to end segregation in Delaware was also used in the Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka decision. (At right: Delaware’s decision.)

The kids of Brown v. Board of Education(At left: the students represented in Brown v. BOE.) Let’s hear Dr. Bart Beaty, author of Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture, discuss Dr. Wertham’s role in the dismantlement of segregation in U.S. schools and how his efforts in that social injustice compares to his efforts and testimony to end the selling of violent and crime comics to the children of the United states:

Diagram for Delinquents is an upcoming documentary film, produced by Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, in association with Gambino Boys Studios and Scifidelity Pictures. For more information, visit fredricwertham.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert A. Emmons Jr. is a documentary filmmaker focusing on American popular culture and history. His films include Enthusiast: The 9th Art, Wolf at the Door, Yardsale!, Goodwill: The Flight of Emilio Carranza, and De Luxe: The Tale of Blue Comet. His Goodwill was screened as part of the Smithsonian exhibition "Our Journeys / Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement," won Best Homegrown Documentary Feature at the 2008 Garden State Film Festival, and led to him receiving Mexico's Lindbergh-Carranza International Goodwill Award as a "Messenger of Peace." From February to August 2010, Emmons created two short documentaries a week; the 52 short documentaries formed the weekly internet series MINICONCEPTDOCS. His print work focusing on electronic media, documentary film, and comic books include Who's Responsible Here? Media, Audience, and Ethics (Cognella, 2009), The Encyclopedia of Documentary Film (Routletdge, 2005), Small Tech: The Culture of Digital Tools (University of Minnesota 2007), and The Encyclopedia of Latino and Latina History (Facts on File, 2010). He teaches film, new media, and comics history at Rutgers University-Camden, where he is also the Associate Director of the Honors College. For more information, visit robertemmons.com.

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Also by Robert A. Emmons, Jr.:

director, producer, executive producer

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