Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Maury Klein


This thesis chronicles the rise and fall of the EC (Entertaining Comics) group in the period 1950-1956. Its purpose is to determine, through a study of primary and secondary sources, to what extent the 1954 congressional inquiries concerning the harmful effects of comic books were the culmination of a series of personal and political vendettas against EC's publisher William Gaines, and to what extent these inquiries were part of a broad-based cultural crusade in which a perceived slippage of cultural values was counteracted by an imposition of regulatory strictures.

To illustrate this argument, this study also chronicles relevant aspects of the political and business culture in the United States. It will be demonstrated that these developments occurred less as a result of McCarthyism and more as a result of a specific cultural crusade that arose after World War Two and during the Cold War. The researcher demonstrates that EC's influence led indirectly to the imposition of regulatory strictures upon comic book content, as well as to the rise of a new, almost unprecedented form of subversive comic book literature, known as underground comics, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.



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