As the 20th century edged into its second half, comics found themselves under attack by, well, one of the biggest things that you can be attacked by: Congress. And as Neal explained, this was because some people thought that a love of The Flash would turn you into a hoodlum, stealing milk money and listening to Elvis after 8 p.m.:
"... because [comics] obviously led to juvenile delinquency, and they should be burned, tossed in the garbage, whatever. And the sales of comic books were terrible. When I got out of high school and fell into this industry, they told me that comic books would be out of business in a year. So I did other things, and several years later I fell back into comic books, and they still hadn't disappeared."
One day, though ...
Today, comic books are a wild medium where anything can happen. Batman can be a Soviet Commissar. The Hulk can be a Las Vegas enforcer. Superman can be charismatic. But back then, after the attacks by Congress, work became pretty limited: "The leftover companies and artists continued to believe they would be out of business in a year, to the extent that they destroyed comic book artwork when they no longer needed it, they had no contracts or agreements [with artists]. Nothing was important, nobody cared, everybody walked around with a long face, everybody was ashamed that they did comic books."
Then, into this period of doubt came a fine gent named Phil Seuling. An English teacher and bookstore owner, Seuling would put together the New York Comic Art Convention in 1968.
To put this in a timeframe that superhero fans can understand, Robert Downey Jr. was three.