The GREAT CANADIAN
6. Edmund Davie Fulton, M.P.
Arguably the most influential comic book critic in Canadian history, E. Davie Fulton (1916-2000) was the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Kamloops, British Columbia, who lead the campaign against comic books in Canada and formulated the Fulton Act. This 1949 amendment to Part V, Section 163 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlaws and deems obscene, “any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence…”
Following the murder of a motorist by two teenage comic book readers in Dawson Creek, B.C. in 1948, a public outcry led to a campaign to address the depiction of violence in comic books. Fulton proposed a change to the law that would limit the sort of comics available to the people of Canada, echoing efforts on the part of Americans like Fredric Wertham and the composers of the Comics Code. Fulton proposed “that magazines, periodicals or books which are devoted wholly or substantially to depicting crimes or violence by means of pictures should be made illegal,” arguing that “the evidence shows that there is a real menace to the youth of this country in the widespread publication and circulation of crime comics,” adding that his proposed Private Member Bill, which was eventually accepted by a vote of 92 to 4, “does not make the mere portrayal of crime an offense but only crime portrayed in such a manner as to be likely to ‘induce or influence youthful persons to violate the law or to corrupt the morals of such persons’, thus the truly educational and properly edited publications would not offend.” The Act remains on the books as law in Canada.
The actual text of Fulton’s law reads as follows:
163. (1) Every one commits an offence who (a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatever; or (b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic.
[Definition of “crime comic”: (7) In this section, “crime comic” means a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially(a) the commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or (b) events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.]
“Fulton was a modern man (who) saw the country, in some ways, decades ahead of others. He had a first-rate mind, but fortunately, it was also changeable. He would confront new situations and change his mind pursuant to those new realities.” –Brian Mulroney, anti-comics advocate (1949), Fulton campaign worker (1967), Prime Minister of Canada (1984-1993)
The CANADIAN COMICS CRITICS COLLECTION
“Vox Clamantis in Deserto”
COLLECT THEM ALL!
1. Marshall McLuhan
2. James Burke
3. George Olshevsky
4. Jeet Heer
5. Janet Hetherington
6. E. Davie Fulton