Printing terror

American horror comics as Cold War commentary and critique

By Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

Printing terror


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3592-6
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2021
  • BIC Category: Graphic novel and comic books: guides and reviews, HISTORY / Military / General, LITERARY CRITICISM / Horror & Supernatural, LITERARY CRITICISM / Comics & Graphic Novels, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, The Cold War, Graphic Novels: History & Criticism


Printing Terror places horror comics of the Cold War in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently, and necessarily, subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America's changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s up to 1954, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The book examines each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics at this time were centered on white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history.


'The six main chapters incorporate a broad range of texts, and in these Goodrum (modern history, Canterbury Christ Church Univ., UK) and Smith (Savannah College of Arts and Design, Hong Kong) read comics from two distinct periods-the periods before and after the formation of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) in 1954-through the lenses of trauma, race, and gender.'
Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association


1 "The dead - the slain - the unavenged." - trauma in the 1940s and 1950s
2 "Men are beasts! Wild beasts! Wild Beasts Must Be Destroyed!" - gender in the 1940s and 1950s
3 "Confusion turns to fear" - race in the 1940s and 1950s
4 Monster kids: bridging the pre- and post-CCA eras
5 "The war has done strange things to you" - trauma in the 1960s and 1970s
6 "This isn't a dream! This is really happening!" - gender in the 1960s and 1970s
7 "We are a species that fears itself most of all" - race in the 1960s and 1970s
8 Conclusion: appropriating white male fear


Michael Goodrum is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK

Philip Smith is Associate Chair of Liberal Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong

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