Tilley featured in comic book

Carol Tilley
Carol Tilley, Associate Professor

Associate Professor Carol Tilley had an unexpected citation in her favorite medium—comic books! Dav Pilkey, author and illustrator of a number of bestselling and award-winning children’s books, including the popular Captain Underpants series, depicts Tilley's research on psychiatrist Fredric Wertham in his newest comic, Cat Kid Comic Club Influencers.

Wertham was an anti-comics critic whose 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, inspired federal hearings that decimated the comic book industry. When Wertham's archives were made available to researchers in 2010, Tilley began her research, finding numerous inconsistencies between the psychiatrist's case notes of children he treated and the content in his book. In addition, she discovered that while Wertham's claims about the negative effects of comic readership on young people were taken as fact by many, some were already questioning his methods.

Pilkey's comic depicts this moment in true comic book fashion, with the Tilley character crying out, "That dude lied!" 

Pilkey's comic and citation of Carol Tilley's research
excerpt from Dav Pilkey's comic, "Cat Kid Comics Club Influencers"


Tilley called the depiction and citation in the comic book a "most pleasant surprise."

"I've been championing Pilkey's work to students and librarians since the first volume of Captain Underpants came out in 1997," she said. "It’s wonderful to see one of the champions and leading creators of contemporary kids' comics acknowledging my work."

Read more about Tilley's findings in her article, "Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics," published in the November-December 2012 issue of Information and Culture: A Journal of History.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

iSchool researchers to present at IDCC24

iSchool faculty, staff, and students will present their research in transparent data curation and cleaning, provenance management, certified transparency, and data ethics at the 18th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC24), which will be held from February 19-21 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The theme of this year's conference, which brings together individuals, organizations, and institutions across all disciplines and domains involved in curating data, is "Trust Through Transparency."

Adler and Naiman selected for 2024 NIH Grant Writing Series program

Associate Professor Rachel Adler and Teaching Assistant Professor Jill Naiman have been selected for the 2024 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant Writing Series program in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI). Led by faculty who have demonstrated a history of success with NIH proposals, the biennial NIH Grant Writing Series is designed to prepare Illinois faculty to submit their first R01 or other individual investigator proposals to the NIH.

Sun selected as 2024 PTC Emerging Scholar

Assistant Professor Meicen Sun was selected as a 2024 Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) Emerging Scholar and presented her research at the PTC Annual Conference, which was held from January 21-24 in Honolulu, Hawaii. PTC is a global, nonprofit organization promoting the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the Pacific Rim. 

Meicen Sun

Hoiem authors new book on education of things

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem has authored a new book on how children learned about the material world at the close of the eighteenth century. The Education of Things, Mechanical Literacy in British Children's Literature, 1762-1860, funded in part by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, was recently published by the University of Massachusetts Press.

Elizabeth Hoiem