And consider who they were selling their comix to: Boys. (Mostly – I don’t think girls read comix much back then.) So a superhero’s boy sidekick was a character with whom the readers could identify! I mean, easier for a boy to fantasize about being Robin than Batman, seems just a bit more possible.
Curious how cultures change. Robin, a circus acrobat trained by his circus-acrobat parents, was no more than 12 when he was orphaned and joined Batman. He was Bruce Wayne’s “ward,” and Wayne was Dick Grayson’s “guardian” – meaning, whether or not there was any formal adoption or foster-child relationship, Bruce was responsible for taking care of Dick like a father. And what he did was take the boy along on crimefighting adventures where people would be trying hard to kill him. And back in the '30s and '40s, nobody seemed to have a problem with that. Nobody wrote the editors and demanded the authorities come in and pull this kid out of this incredibly dangerous home environment. Why not? It wasn’t so many decades earlier that, in real life, drummer boys would march into battle beside the grownup soldiers, and 12-year-olds would serve as midshipmen on naval vessels. (Remember Master and Commander?) And to the boy, this was adventure! It was excitement! It was the chance of a (possibly very brief) lifetime!
How did we get so squeamish about putting small boys in harm’s way? What’s happened to us?