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Banned Book Week highlights comic culture 

“Seduction of the Innocent” explores secret history of graphic novels

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Telling the little-known story of comic book banning and regulation, an exhibit on censorship in comics opened Friday at the Barrick Museum of Natural History.

Entitled “Seduction of the Innocent,” the exhibit explored this moment in time through nine selections on a timeline display.

The exhibit started with comic covers and excerpts from the 1930s, the early years for the medium. Each piece represents a decade of comics.

PJ Perez, the event’s curator, said that comic books were the original scapegoat of bad behavior, deemed immoral by parents long before rock ‘n roll and violent videogames could be blamed.

“The first comic books appeared in 1933 through 1935, and not very long after that, almost every instance of juvenile delinquency was being blamed on comics,” Perez said.

A few paragraphs of text accompany each comic on display to help tell the story of how things went from bad to worse for comic creators through the years.

After parent-teacher associations, religious groups and legislators came to the consensus that comics were harmful to youth, Dr. Fredric Wertham wrote a book called “Seduction of the Innocent,” an anti-comic crusade for which the exhibit is named after. A picture of the doctor, as well as the cover of the first edition of the book, is on display as part of the exhibit.

Matthew McCrickard, a 19-year-old film major, said that even though he had read comics before, he didn’t know about some of the uglier history.

“It is interesting stuff. I think they need more things like this in here,” McCrickard said of the Barrick Museum.

The exhibit opened with booths from local comic book stores and restaurants, who donated a portion of their sales to the Barrick Museum. “Seduction of the Innocent” also served as the finale to Yelp’s month long “Geeks Out” for geeky things to do in Vegas.

The exhibit is set to run through Oct. 29.

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