I hadn’t noticed this earlier, but CBR published an interesting history item almost a year ago about how Stan Lee for one reacted to Fredric Wertham’s anti-comics positions in the 1950s, even as his own company, then still called Timely or Atlas, was among several which complied with the demands of the Senate hearing that took place in the wake of Wertham’s now discredited Seduction of the Innocent book:
Throughout his life, Stan Lee was a vocal proponent of the Freedom of Speech and as it turned out, he had a very prominent opponent on that topic during the late 1940s and early 1950s in the person of Fredric Wertham, the infamous psychiatrist behind The Seduction of the Innocent. Rather than taking Wertham’s attacks on comics quietly, Lee did a number of awesome protests in the pages of Marvel Comics (then called either Timely Comics or Atlas Comics) from editorials to comic book spoofs of Wertham. […]
Over the course of late 1948 and throughout 1949, Stan Lee responded to the increasing popularity of Wertham’s views about comic books in a series of editorials in every comic released by Marvel Comics (whatever the company was being called back then) at the time.
It’s a fascinating history piece, but what’s really sad is that, if you consider Lee’s refusal to criticize Marvel’s conduct in the years after he retired his position there, that’s why it’s hard to say he kept up his anti-censorship positions, since he never protested Joe Quesada’s early examples like banning smoking when he took over as EIC in the early 2000s, among other “moral” positions that were hypocritical at worst, like Peter Parker “never having sex” with Gwen Stacy, even as the latter is inexplicably depicted having it with Norman Osborn. That’s one of the most shameless double-standards Quesada ever concocted, one Spider-Man may never have recovered from.
And what do today’s contributors to comicdom think of Lee’s anti-censorship positions, no matter how he conveyed them? I have no doubt few on the left in the medium show any genuine appreciation for the late veteran’s efforts, seeing how badly they’ve all mangled his creations long before he passed on. That’s the biggest oxymoron – selectively or not, they actually agreed with Wertham all along, at the expense of medium they’re working in.
Originally published here.