The romance comic Love illustrated was banned in Queensland in 1954, one of the first ten publications banned by the newly created Queensland Literature Board of Review.
The Board banned forty-seven publications in its first twelve months – most of them crime or love comics.
Why were comics targeted in this way? In its first annual report the Board blamed romance comics for ‘exciting erotic feelings in children’ and had this advice to give to parents.
… parents and teachers need to be reminded from time to time of the generally unfortunate effect on the child mind of even the outwardly ‘harmless’ comics. These can help to cause mental laziness, can have a narrowing effect on the mind at a period of life when the mental horizons should be expanding and destroy self-expression, have a bad effect on speech construction, and create a false sense of values by causing amusement from actions which are unkind and untrue.
Queensland was not alone in its moral concern. In the early 1950s comics were hugely popular with young people and moral panic about post-war youth culture focussed partly on the ‘trashy’, violent and ‘sexy’ comics coming out of America.
It resulted in various enquiries and the enactment of legislation in several countries, including the U.S, the U.K, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Queensland passed its own ‘Objectionable Literature’ legislation in March 1954, setting up a Literature Board of Review as a means of banning any publications which
- unduly emphasized acts of sex, horror, crime, cruelty, and violence
- were blasphemous, indecent, obscene, or likely to be injurious to morality
- were likely to encourage depravity, public disorder, or indictable offence
- or were otherwise calculated to injure the citizens of Queensland
It’s hard now to understand what objection the Board could have had to Love illustrated no. 9. Perhaps it was the cover with its “undue emphasis on the female figure“.
The Queensland Literature Board of Review operated until the 1980s and lists of banned publications can be found in its annual reports.
Information about the current censorship regime in Queensland can be found here.
Freedom Then, Freedom Now
The Little Red School Book is one of many collection items to be featured in SLQ’s latest exhibition, Freedom Then, Freedom Now which runs from 5 May until 19 November 2017 at the State Library of Queensland.
Freedom Then, Freedom Now is an intriguing journey into our recent past exploring the freedoms enjoyed and restricted in Queensland and examines what happens when collective good intersects with individual rights. Freedoms often depend on age, racial or religious background, gender, income and where you live. Freedoms change over time and with public opinion. This exhibition draws on the extensive collections of SLQ to reminisce, reflect on and explore freedoms lost and won in Queensland.
Annual report of the Queensland Literature Board of Review, 1961/62 to 1984/85. Reports from 1954 to 1960/61 can be found in the Queensland Parliamentary Papers.
MOST DEAL IN HORROR AND WAR. (1954, July 24). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 1.
Search the classification database of the Classification Review Board of the Australian Government.
Joan Bruce – Queensland Literature Coordinator, State Library of Queensland