24 April 2010

YGI: The LITTLE MERMAID Incident and 22 Comic Covers Fred Wertham Would Love To Hate

Gutters can be dirty places, but every once in a while. all of our minds occasionally tend to drift into them.  Because no matter how filthy they are, our inner kid delights in making messes our outer-adults have to clean up. Even the most restrained parent can't suppress a chuckle when their five-year-old's latest word happens to be the four-letter one they don't understand yet nevertheless chose to scream during the middle of Sunday Mass. 

There's a kid-like thrill adults get when they're being a bit naughty, so for some of that naughtiness to pop up in kid's material made by adults almost seems like a given. It makes sense, and most folks probably deplore the possibility in public while secretly applauding the subversion in private. Disney animation and theme park artists have spawned numerous urban rumors of hiding subliminal sexual images in their work; the most notorious of them all being The Little Mermaid's secret stash of phallic spires.

Surely you've heard the tale: people of all ages began seeing a penis featured prominently in a piece of promotional artwork (above) used for the animated movie, said to be the handiwork of a disgruntled Disney employee. (From his year and a half working for the Mouse,  our  own dear Dabbler will attest there's no short supply of disgruntled Disney employees.)  Apparently, the truth of the story is that the artist - commissioned and not employed by Disney (yeah, right) - completed his masterpiece late at night (makes perfect sense) and didn't even notice his unintentional phallic protrusion until Disney called him on it. After which, of course, the artwork on countless Mermaid VHS covers and promo posters was promptly replaced.

The Little Mermaid incident proves that subliminal perversion does happen. And if it goes down at Disney, it can just as easily happen at DC, Marvel, Archie, or any comics publisher.  Maxim online pulled together an awesomely hilarious collection of 22 comic book covers that can't help but catapult any adult reader's thoughts straight to the nasty.  Probably not too tough a job, but the one they did is pretty bang up.  It definitely made us wonder: are these 4-color snafus the creation of unintentional innocence gone wrong, or are they instead the work of mischievous pranksters?

Wonder Woman #68  (DC Comics)

World's Finest Comics #14  (DC Comics)

Betty & Me #16  (Archie Comics)

Dr. Fred Wertham, the distinguished psychologist who thought comic books, with their hidden social and sexual messages, were bad for kids and who lead the public movement for censorship of comics industry in the late 1940's, would likely mouth an 'I Told You So' if he  had chanced to see the seven covers on the comicsblog today. As luck might have it, only one  -- the soon-to-be skinny dipping Dynamic Duo on the cover of World's Finest #14 published in 1944 - was on the racks during Wertham's reign of terror.   The other covers range from Wonder Woman #68 (1954) to Alf #48 (1992), which coincidentally Marvel canceled just two months later.

Don't get us wrong: if Superman and Batman plan to jump naked into lake full of bare-ass teenage boys, we've got no problem with that - for what else could it be but a portrayal of a simpler, kinder bygone era?  But is Archie Comics Betty & Me #16, published after pop culture met sex, drugs, and rock and roll in 1968, just as simple and innocent? It certainly makes sense that "Beat off," a verb with origins dating back to 1697 and meaning "to drive something away," is something Archie could say to describe his warding off of Betty's other (likely aroused and amorous) suitors. But "beat off" of the masturbation inclination is what we first thought of - and we know you did, too; coincidentally, the two-word term picked up its more vernacular meaning in the mid 1960's.

Double entendre, you say? Never let it be said we comics folk aren't clever little fucks. 
Be sure to satiate your graphic imagination by checking out rest of Maxim's naughty but oh-so-funny collection of inappropriate comic book covers [here]

No comments: