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Comic-book double entendres

Posted by Christopher Shea  September 22, 2010 12:02 PM

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Over at HiLobrow, the playwright Jason Grote is halfway through a series of posts exploring double entendres in classic comic books. He notes that the psychiatrist Frederick Wertham, whose book "Seduction of the Innocent" helped to set off a mid-'50s panic about comics, did not target only the most outré crime-and-horror works. He also argued that there was a homosexual subtext to Batman and Robin's camaraderie and that Wonder Woman was subjected to punishments that looked a bit like sadomasochism. Today Wertham is often vilified as a censorious bluestocking. But how wrong was he on those two subjects?

batmanrobin.jpg

Asks Grote, of the now-famous double meanings: "Were they accidental blurts from the artists' subconscious minds? Can they simply be explained away as products of a 'more innocent time?' Or perhaps they were acts of mischief from perverse, disgruntled, or bored comic artists. I don’t know the answer to these questions--and furthermore, I don’t care."

Amusingly, several of the panels are too risqué to reprint in a family newspaper, though judgments will vary depending on the imagination, or salaciousness, of the reader.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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