[ Instant Classics ]


1) Publisher, and longtime friend and associate of Gaines. Currently president of Barricade Books.

2 ) The eighth floor auditorium of the Time & Life Building. A sleek redesign by Lewis Davis of Davis, Brody & Associates was completed in 1982.

3) William Maxwell Gaines Born New York City March 1, 1922.Died New York City June 3, 1992. Married Hazel Grieb, Oct. 21, 1944 (divorced Feb. 9,1948);married Nancy Siegel, Nov. 17, 1955 (divorced Mar 1, 1971);children Cathy, Wendy, Chris;married Anne Griffiths, Feb. 21, 1987.U.S. Army, 1942-46.B. S. (Education) N.Y.U. 1948 President, EC Publications, 1948 to 1992.Member: Wine and Food Society, In Search of a Name Society (charter), Phi Alpha.-Who's Who

4 ) Gaines's father was M. C. (Max) Gaines. In 1933 he found his calling, arranging for advertisers to print giveaway books of old comic-strips. His agreement with a color printer to keep the presses rolling in return for a percentage of the business led him to a lifetime involvement with comics. His accidental death in 1947 put Bill, who had trained to be a high school chemistry teacher, in charge of the business at a rather low ebb in its fortunes.

5 ) Head of the Time Warner division that included Mad. and Warner Books. Gaines sold Mad to Premier Industries in 1960. Several sales, agglomerations and mergers later, it was part of a publishing group put together by Warner Communications, which has remained largely intact through the Time Warner merger that's in control, though not in charge. Mad is a classic cash cow, turning in dependable earnings year after year under Gaines's strict, hands-on (in a very old-fashioned way) management. He signed all the checks himself. Freelancers who walked in with work could walk out with a check, an almost unheard of policy in publishing. Mad now reports through DC Comics, a Time Warner division that is the corporate successor of a business Gaines's father was involved in founding.

6 ) Writer, Mad contributor since 1963, on the masthead today as Creative Consultant.

7 ) A Night at the Opera (1935)

8 ) Author of Completely Mad, published Fall of 1991 by Little, Brown. It's a full-blown illustrated history and a must for anyone more than a little bit interested in Mad or 20th Century American humor. It's out in paperback this fall, it's a main selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club, and, as such, will be deposited, unbidden, in untold thousands of mailboxes nationwide. They're a corporate sibling of Book of the Month Club, which once selected Frederic Wertham's comics muckraker Seduction of the Innocent, for the same privilege. Anyone writing about Mad, including this writer, owes much to her work.

9 ) A much envied tradition that began in 1960 with a trip Gaines and staffers made to beseech their lone subscriber in Haiti to reconsider his decision not to renew. Each year, contributors with sufficient sales and staff members are invited to accompany Gaines abroad, first to the Caribbean, and, from 1966, to every continent with a restaurant.

10) An otherwise conspicuously liberal and even libertarian psychiatrist, Frederic Wertham nonetheless crusaded on behalf of the notion that the Federal government should prevent children from purchasing violent comics, in order to prevent mental illness and juvenile delinquency. His book Seduction of the Innocent describes the comic book menace in language that today seems hysterical and pathetically humorous. Here are the features of the "comic book syndrome:"1. The child feels spontaneously guilty about reading the violent, sadistic and criminal stories, and about fantasies stimulated by them.2. He is made to feel guilty about them [comic books or naughty thoughts?] by others.3. He reads them surreptitiously.4. He lies and says he does not read crime comics, but only "Walt Disney comics, Looney Tunes and Merry Melody comics." Typical is the remark of an eight-year-old child at the end of our interview: "Please don't tell my mother that I read Crime Does Not Pay and Superman! I keep them always on the bottom of the heap."5. He buys comic books with money which he is supposed to use for something else, or he steals to get comic book money.

11) Herbert Wilton Beaser, at the time of the comics hearings, was Associate Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency. The following week he was elevated to Chief Counsel.

12 ) The Subcommittee held two days of hearings, April 21 and 22, 1954 in New York City, ostensibly to "investigate" the links between comics and juvenile delinquency. Documents suggest the committee had already decided to browbeat the industry into squashing Gaines in particular, and other publishers of material which, while not remarkable when compared to the rest of popular culture of the time, still offended the personal tastes of the committee members and staff. The committee was part of a years long reaction to extreme elements of youth culture that were labeled juvenile delinquency, a quaint term now heard mostly on Nick at Nite, in response to public pressure whomped up chiefly by Wertham, assisted by a quite a few publications and a small minority of the child welfare and juvenile justice establishments.

13 ) The hearing record has Gaines's speech ending:Mr. GainesOnce you start to censor you must censor everything. You must censor books, radio, television, and newspapers. Then you must censor what people may say. Then you will have turned this country into Spain or Russia.Mr. BeaserMr. Gaines, let me ask you one thing with reference to Dr. Wertham's testimony.Beaser goes on to grill Gaines about his claims to be using comics at times to transmit messages intended to change people's behavior to the good regarding "racial prejudice," in order to suggest that he is also influencing readers to commit horrible crimes when his comics depict them.

14) Here, Beaser sets up for a spike by Kefauver. A previous exchange established that Gaines does not edit to prevent "possible effect... upon an emotionally maladjusted child."Mr. BeaserThere would be no limit actually to what you put in magazines?Mr. GainesOnly within the boundaries of good taste.Mr. BeaserYour own good taste and salability?Mr. GainesYes.Sen. KefauverHere is your May 22 issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?Mr. GainesYes sir; I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.Sen. KefauverYou have blood coming out of her mouth.Mr. GainesA little.Sen. KefauverHere is blood on the axe. I think most adults are shocked by that.The ChairmanHere is another one I want to show him...

15) The Comics Code adopted after the Subcommittee hearings states:General Standards, Section A, Item Three-Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrepect for established authority.

16) Co-editor of Mad since Al Feldstein's retirement in 1985. He's been associated with Gaines since the EC days.

17) Co-editor of Mad with Meglin.

18 ) Published by Lyle Stuart in 1972.

[ Home ] [ Contents ] [ Contributors ] [ Search ] [ Submit ]

[ Instant Classics ]

Instant Classics - The Culture Quick Mart
©2007 Instant Classics