1953 December 27

“Night Before Christmas” Comic Book Banned in Massachusetts


A comic book version of the classic poem The Night Before Christmas was banned in Massachusetts on this day. The state Attorney General argued that the comic book portrayed Christmas in a “pagan” manner and presented Santa Clause as “just divorced.”

The comic book was published by William Gaines, who later became famous as the founder and publisher of Mad Magazine. On efforts to censor comic books in the 1950s because of their alleged impact on juvenile delinquency, see the Senate hearings over comics and juvenile delinquency on April 21, 1954, and the adoption of the Comic Book Code, a voluntary censorship effort, on October 26, 1954.

The Comic Book Code was modeled after the Hollywood Production Code, adopted on June 13, 1934, which exerted a heavy hand of censorship on American movies until the late 1960s.

Learn more: David Hajdu, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (2008) (including a discussion of “The Night Before Christmas” episode, pp. 220-221)

Read: Matthew Pustz, ed., Comic Books and American Cultural History: An Anthology (2012)

Learn more at the Comic Book Defense Fund: http://cbldf.org/

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