NLD24

Presented at the Fourth Canadian Ballet Festival at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre, Heroes of Our Time is a study of the controversy over violence in comic books in the 1950s. In the late-1940s, the North American media was full of reports debating the effect of comic book violence on youth. Among the private members' bills tabled in the House of Commons in October 1949 was one drafted by Conservative MP Edmund Davie Fulton from Kamloops, BC. The bill sought to ban "crime comic books" and prosecute publishers and distributors who produced and sold the books. At first reading, the bill received rousing support from all political parties and was presented in December to the Senate as Bill-10; however, Bill-10, or the Fulton Bill as it became known, received considerable protest from publishers. The bill was not clear as to what exactly comprised a "crime" comic book and retailers, in a panic to avoid prosecution, started clearing all comics off their shelves -- publishers were in an uproar. The publishers met and drew up a list of twenty-five comic book titles that should likely come under the ban and the government agreed that all comics would be scrutinized by a group of "qualified" individuals.

Bill-10 came about when Fulton conducted research after his constituents made him aware of the problem of comic book violence. Media accounts of the day cite instances of vicious behaviour inspired by violent comic books: three Ontario boys around age twelve tied a girl to a raft and floated her out on a river with the intention of drowning her; a ten-year-old viciously robbed an eight-year-old using the lingo and techniques he had picked up from reading comics; and a fourteen-year-old in California poisoned his Grandmother while trying out a recipe for poison he had discovered in a comic book. However, despite the protests from parents and educators there was a large contingent of criminologists, psychiatrists, juvenile court judges and social workers who did not agree that reading comics led to violence. This group stated that the real causes of juvenile delinquency were unhappy home lives, living in bad neighbourhoods, emotional stress and psychological problems present before a child begins reading comic books.