The Censorship of Horror Comics
In February 1955 a parliamentary bill was published to protect children and young people from publications containing images and ideas which the government considered harmful. This bill was called the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Bill (see image on right). It was passed into law and remains in force.
The main target of the bill was Horror Comics. In America in the 1950s the popularity for Cowboy Comics gave way to a number of crime comics, which led to the production of Horror Comics. Their popularity spread and alarmed the authorities with titles such as “VAULT OF TERROR” and “CRYPT OF TERROR”. The content often included graphic depictions of terror and violence, such as kidnapping and torture, as well as a variety of monsters, including werewolves, vampires and zombies.
This resource investigates the debate surrounding horror comics and the Harmful Publications Bill, through examination ofnewspaper articles from the 1950s. These were collected by the pressure group the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty), whose records are held at the Hull History Centre. It is designed to encourage students to think about the issue of censorship and whether the same issues are relevant to young people today.
KS3 Citizenship: Human Rights
KS3 History: Twentieth Century GCSE
KS4 Citizenship: Human Rights
KS4 History: Twentieth Century GCSE
Thinking about and analysing information
Expressing personal opinion
Contributing to class discussion
Using imagination to consider other people’s experiences