Diagram for Delinquents Update #20:

The Countenance is the Portrait of the Soul

Yes, yes, yes. It has been a while since the last update. So here’s an explanation:

For the last month I have been working on a play and I will be for the next two months as well.

Each year, I collaborate on a production with my friend and playwright / director / actor Paul Bernstein. He is consistently pushing the boundaries of theater and as part of that he is always looking for ways to integrate video and projection into his live shows. That’s were I come in. I design, create, and install the video installation in his shows… and it takes time. So for the next two months, updates will come every three weeks, so I can concentrate on the show he is producing at Rutgers University-Camden: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis.

Who is Dr. Fredric Wertham?

Certainly,  he is no simple man. Loved, hated. Hailed, slighted. Every time I look at his work something new takes form. And the take away never seems to be foggy. I either disagree or agree. Perhaps this polarizing effect is what makes him most complicated. Our “rational humanity” cannot resolve such fuzzy logic. Our instinct is to protect our children, but it is also to protect what we have named our “inalienable rights.” Is this a distinctly American attribute?

Who is Dr. Fredric Wertham?

One gainful and unique way to “see” someone is to examine them through another’s eyes.

When the film crew and I explored Wertham’s archives we found a number of portraits of Wertham that range from minimalist to quite rich. They are fascinating.

Who is Dr. Fredric Wertham?

Discovering the little parts of Wertham’s personal life was some of the best fun we had at the Library of Congress.

The portraits of himself were among many other images of original artwork that Wertham collected.

He was a lover and avid collector of art. Some of it was quite abstract. I find this intriguing as Wertham had a particular dislike for the notion of comics as art. He thought they were worthless, that they had no artistic merit at all. For a man that could find the beauty in the abstract is it such a stretch to find that same beauty in the cartooning of comic books?

Who is Dr. Fredric Wertham?

Hopefully these images can provide you with some, perhaps even new, portraits of the man’s soul:

And as a special treat for you, dear reader, I offer a still pulled from one of the animated sequences that will be in our documentary, Diagram for Delinquents.

Who is Dr. Fredric Wertham?

Let me leave you with a selection from his 1962 book A Sign for Cain: An Exploration of Human Violence.

The great question before mankind is: Can we abolish violence without violence? The problem is not philosophically abstract man against abstract violence; it is man against man. Violence is a matter of the relations between people. It will be a long and hard struggle to banish it. Eventually, I believe, this can and will be accomplished. The story writer Vladimir Korolenko, a courageous opponent of violence, described the ultimate goal like this: “Violence and oppression will disappear, the nations will come together in festivals of brotherhood, and never again will human blood be shed by human hands.”

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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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