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Letter from Robert Merdian regarding comic book censorship, June 22, 1954

Fourteen-year-old Robert Merdian of Pennsylvania, an avid reader of comic books, wrote to the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in defense of comics. He considered them a deterrent to crime, since every story ended with the criminal being caught, instilling fear in any reader contemplating misdeeds.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Letter from Robert Merdian regarding comic book censorship, June 22, 1954

Comic Books and Juvenile Delinquency

Alarmed by a dramatic rise in juvenile delinquency in the 1950s, Congress explored the possible influence of crime, horror, and superhero comic books on youths’ behavior. To investigate this potential correlation, Senator Robert Hendrickson of New Jersey moved to create a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, who succeeded Hendrickson as chairman of the committee, oversaw a series of televised hearings in New York in the spring of 1954. Following the hearings, comic book publishers voluntarily developed new standards of content control.

This country cannot afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror, and violence.

Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, 1955–1956