Comics Code Authority

The Comics Code Authority (CCA) was formed in 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America as an alternative to government regulation, to allow the comic publishers to self-regulate the content of comic books in the United States. Its code, commonly called "the Comics Code", lasted until the early 21st century. Many have linked the CCA's formation to a series of Senate hearings and the publication of psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent.

Members submitted comics to the CCA, which screened them for adherence to its Code, then authorized the use of their seal on the cover if the book was found to be in compliance. At the height of its influence, it was a de facto censor for the U.S. comic book industry.

By the early 2000s, publishers bypassed the CCA and Marvel Comics abandoned it in 2001. By 2010, only three major publishers still adhered to it: DC Comics, Archie Comics, and Bongo Comics. Bongo broke with the CCA in 2010. DC and Archie followed in January 2011, rendering the Code completely defunct.

Approved by the Comics Code Authority
The Comics Code seal

Founding

The Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) was formed in September 1954 in response to a widespread public concern over gory and horrific comic-book content.[1] It named New York Magistrate Charles F. Murphy (1910-1992), a specialist in juvenile delinquency, to head the organization and devise a self-policing "code of ethics and standards" for the industry.[1] He established the Comics Code Authority (CCA), basing its code upon the largely unenforced code drafted by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers in 1948, which in turn had been modeled loosely after the 1930 Hollywood Production Code.[2] This code banned graphic depictions of violence and gore in crime and horror comics, as well as the sexual innuendo of what aficionados refer to as "good girl art". Fredric Wertham's 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent had rallied opposition to this type of material in comics, arguing that it was harmful to the children who made up a large segment of the comic book audience. The Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1954, which focused specifically on comic books, had many publishers concerned about government regulation, prompting them to form a self-regulatory body instead.

Before the CCA was adopted, some cities already had organized public burnings and bans on comic books.[3] The city councils of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas, passed ordinances banning crime and horror comics, although an attempt by Los Angeles County, California was deemed unconstitutional by the courts.[1]

Like the previous code, the CCA prohibited the presentation of "policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions … in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority." But it added the requirements that "in every instance good shall triumph over evil" and discouraged "instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities." Specific restrictions were placed on the portrayal of kidnapping and concealed weapons. Depictions of "excessive violence" were forbidden, as were "lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations." Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and zombies could not be portrayed. In addition, comics could not use the words horror or terror in their titles. The use of the word crime was subject to numerous restrictions. Where the previous code had condemned the publication of "sexy, wanton comics," the CCA was much more precise: depictions of "sex perversion", "sexual abnormalities", and "illicit sex relations" as well as seduction, rape, sadism, and masochism were specifically forbidden. In words echoing the Hollywood Production Code, love stories were enjoined to emphasize the "sanctity of marriage" and those portraying scenes of passion were advised to avoid stimulating "lower and baser emotions."

In his introduction to Archie Americana Series Best of the Fifties, editor Victor Gorelick reminisced about the Code, writing, "My first assignment, as a new art assistant, was to remove cleavages and lift up low cut blouses on Katy Keene."[4] He also wrote of Archie artist Harry Lucey that, "His sometimes suggestive storytelling – and he was one of the best – almost cost him his job. When his pencilled stories came in, the characters were dressed on one page only. The inker, a woman by the name of Terry Szenics, would have to clothe them on the remaining pages."[5]

Although the CCA had no official control over publishers, most distributors refused to carry comics that did not carry the seal.[6] However, two major publishers of comics – Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics – did not display the seal because their output was subject to a higher authority: their licensors.[7]

Criticism and enforcement

Some publishers thrived under these restrictions, while others adapted by canceling titles and focusing on Code-approved content; still others went out of business. In practice, the negative effect for not having CCA approval was lack of distribution from comic book wholesalers, who, as one historian observed, "served as the enforcement arm of the Comics Code Authority by agreeing to handle only those comics with the seal."[8]

Publisher William Gaines believed that clauses forbidding the words "crime", "horror", and "terror" in comic book titles had been deliberately aimed at his own best-selling titles Crime SuspenStories, The Vault of Horror, and Tales from the Crypt.[9][10] These restrictions, as well as those banning vampires, werewolves, and zombies, helped make EC Comics unprofitable; all of its titles except Mad were canceled in the year following the CCA's introduction, and attempts by EC to launch Code-friendly replacement titles were unsuccessful. Mad itself survived because Gaines had converted the publication to a magazine format, to which the Code did not apply.

Wertham dismissed the Code as an inadequate half-measure.[11] Comics analyst Scott McCloud, on the other hand, later commented that it was as if, in drawing up the code, "the list of requirements a film needs to receive a G rating was doubled, and there were no other acceptable ratings!"[12]

"Judgment Day"

In one early confrontation between a comic-book publisher and Code authorities, EC Comics' William Gaines reprinted the story "Judgment Day", from the pre-Code Weird Fantasy #18 (April 1953), in Incredible Science Fiction #33 (Feb. 1956).[13] The reprint was a replacement for a Code-disapproved story – "An Eye for an Eye", drawn by Angelo Torres[14] – but was itself also objected to because of the central character being black.[13] The story, by writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Orlando,[14] was an allegory against race prejudice, which point was necessarily nullified if the lead character was not black.[13] Following an order by Code administrator Judge Charles Murphy to change the final panel, which depicted a black astronaut, Gaines engaged in a heated dispute with Murphy.[15] He threatened to inform the press of Murphy's objection to the story if they did not give the issue the Code Seal, causing Murphy to reverse his initial decision and allow the story to run.[13] Soon after, however, facing the severe restrictions placed upon his comics by the CCA, and with his "New Direction" titles floundering, Gaines quit comic book publishing to concentrate on Mad.[13]

1954 Code criteria

Source:[16]

  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, the gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  • No comic magazine shall use the words "horror" or "terror" in its title.
  • All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
  • Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  • Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  • Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  • Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
  • Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Rape scenes, as well as sexual abnormalities, are unacceptable.
  • Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  • Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
  • Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.

1960s–1970s

Underground comics

In the late 1960s, the underground comics scene arose, with artists such as Robert Crumb creating comics that delved into graphic subject matter banned by the Code. Since these comics were distributed largely through unconventional channels, such as head shops, they were able to skirt the problem of mainstream distributors who were wary of carrying non-CCA-approved comics. This allowed underground comics to achieve moderate success without CCA approval.

"Wolfman" and credits

Writer Marv Wolfman's name was briefly a point of contention between DC Comics and the CCA. In the supernatural-mystery anthology House of Secrets #83 (Jan. 1970), the book's host introduces the story "The Stuff that Dreams are Made of" as one told to him by "a wandering wolfman". (All-capitals comics lettering made no distinction between "wolfman" and "Wolfman".) The CCA rejected the story and flagged the "wolfman" reference as a violation. Fellow writer Gerry Conway explained to the CCA that the story's author was in fact named Wolfman, and asked whether it would still be in violation if that were clearly stated. The CCA agreed that it would not be, as long as Wolfman received a writer's credit on the first page of the story; this led to DC beginning to credit creators in its supernatural-mystery anthologies.[17]

Updating the Code

The Code was revised a number of times during 1971, initially on January 28, 1971, to allow for, among other things, the sometimes "sympathetic depiction of criminal behavior... [and] corruption among public officials" ("as long as it is portrayed as exceptional and the culprit is punished"[13]) as well as permitting some criminal activities to kill law-enforcement officers and the "suggestion but not portrayal of seduction."[13] Also newly allowed were "vampires, ghouls and werewolves... when handled in the classic tradition such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high calibre literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world". Zombies, lacking the requisite "literary" background, remained taboo. To get around this restriction, Marvel in the mid-1970s called the apparently deceased, mind-controlled followers of various Haitian supervillains "zuvembies".[18] This practice carried over to Marvel's superhero line: in The Avengers, when the reanimated superhero Wonder Man returns from the dead, he is referred to as a "zuvembie".[19] DC comics published their own zombie story in Swamp Thing #16 (May 1975), where the deceased rise from their graves, while a soul-devouring demon appears in Swamp Thing #15 (April 1975).

Around this time, the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare approached Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee to do a story about drug abuse.[13] Lee agreed and wrote a three-part Spider-Man story, portraying drug use as dangerous and unglamorous. While the Code did not specifically forbid depictions of drugs, a general clause prohibited "All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency".[20] The CCA had approved at least one previous story involving drugs, the premiere of Deadman in Strange Adventures #205 (Oct. 1967), which clearly depicted the title character fighting opium smugglers.[20] However, Code administrator Leonard Darvin "was ill" at the time of the Spider-Man story,[13] and acting administrator John L. Goldwater (publisher of Archie Comics) refused to grant Code approval because of the depiction of narcotics being used, regardless of the context,[13] whereas the Deadman story had depicted only a wholesale business transaction.[20]

Confident that the original government request would give him credibility, and with the approval of his publisher Martin Goodman, Lee ran the story in The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98 (May–July 1971), without CCA approval. The storyline was well received, and the CCA's argument for denying approval was deemed counterproductive. "That was the only big issue that we had" with the Code, Lee recalled in a 1998 interview:

I could understand them; they were like lawyers, people who take things literally and technically. The Code mentioned that you mustn't mention drugs and, according to their rules, they were right. So I didn't even get mad at them then. I said, 'Screw it' and just took the Code seal off for those three issues. Then we went back to the Code again. I never thought about the Code when I was writing a story, because basically I never wanted to do anything that was to my mind too violent or too sexy. I was aware that young people were reading these books, and had there not been a Code, I don't think that I would have done the stories any differently.[21]

Lee and Marvel drew criticism from DC head Carmine Infantino "for defying the code", stating that DC will not "do any drug stories unless the code is changed".[13] As a result of publicity surrounding the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's sanctioning of the storyline, however, the CCA revised the Code to permit the depiction of "narcotics or drug addiction" if presented "as a vicious habit". DC itself broached the topic in the Code-approved Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 (Sept. 1971), with writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams beginning a story arc involving Green Arrow's teen sidekick Speedy as a heroin addict. A cover line read, "DC attacks youth's greatest problem... Drugs!"[20]

1980s–2010s

By the 1980s, greater depiction of violence had become acceptable. For example, Moon Knight #21 (July. 1982) encounters zombies, and Elvira's House of Mystery #2 (Feb. 1986) contained numerous decapitations but was still Code-approved.

A late adopter of the code was Now Comics, which began displaying the Code seal on titles released in the spring of 1989.[22] Bongo Comics, established in 1993 primarily to publish comics based upon The Simpsons television series, also chose to display the seal.

Abandonment

By the 2000s, advertisers no longer made decisions to advertise based on the appearance of the stamp.[23] Most new publishers to emerge during this time did not join the CCA, regardless of whether their content conformed to its standards.[23] DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and other CCA sponsors began publishing comics intended for adult audiences, without the CCA seal, and comics labeled for "mature readers" under imprints such as DC's Vertigo and Marvel's Epic Comics, and DC Comics imprints Helix and WildStorm were not submitted to the CCA.

In 2001, Marvel Comics withdrew from the CCA in favor of its own Marvel Rating System designating appropriate age groups; in 2010 Bongo Comics discontinued using the Code without any announcements regarding its abandonment.[24]

The CMAA, at some point in the 2000s, was managed by the trade-organization management firm the Kellen Company, which ceased its involvement in 2009. In 2010, some publishers, including Archie, placed the seal on its comics without submitting them to the CMAA. Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito stated that the code did not affect his company the way that it did others as "we aren't about to start stuffing bodies into refrigerators".[23]

In January 2011, DC Comics announced that it would discontinue participation, adopting a rating system similar to Marvel's.[25] The company noted that it submitted comics for approval through December 2010, but would not say to whom they were submitted.[23] A day later, Archie Comics, the only other publisher still participating in the Code, announced it also was discontinuing it,[26] rendering the Code defunct.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund acquired, from the defunct CMAA, the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code seal.[27]

The Comics Code seal can be seen at the beginning of the Marvel 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse as part of the production company logos.[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "The Press: Horror on the Newsstands", Time, September 27, 1954. WebCitation archive.
  2. ^ Hajdu, David (2008). The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 128–130.
  3. ^ Costello, Matthew J. Secret Identity Crisis: Comic Books and the Unmasking of Cold War America (Continuum, 2009), ISBN 978-0-8264-2998-8, p. 32
  4. ^ Gorelick, Victor (1992). "Introduction". Archie Americana Series Best of the Fifties Volume 2. Archie Comic Publications. p. 4.
  5. ^ Gorelick, page ?
  6. ^ Silberkeilt, Michael, cited in Costello, page ?
  7. ^ Arndt, Richard J (October 23, 2016). "From Dell to Gold Key to King - with the New York Times in Between". Alter Ego #141. TwoMorrows. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  8. ^ Nyberg, Dr. Amy Kiste (n.d.). "Comics Code History: The Seal of Approval". Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  9. ^ Jacobs, F: "The Mad World of William M. Gaines", pages 112–114, Lyle Stuart, Inc, 1972
  10. ^ "An Interview With William M. Gaines", Comics Journal #83 pages 76–78, Fantagraphics, Inc, 1983
  11. ^ Harrison, Emma (February 5, 1955). "Whip, Knife, Shown as 'Comics' Lures". The New York Times. p. 17.
  12. ^ McCloud, Scott (2000). Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form. New York: Perennial. ISBN 0-06-095350-0. OCLC 44654496.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Thompson, Don & Maggie, "Crack in the Code", Newfangles #44, February 1971
  14. ^ a b "GCD :: Issue :: Incredible Science Fiction #33". comics.org.
  15. ^ Diehl, Digby. Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives (St. Martin's Press, New York, NY 1996) p. 85
  16. ^ Code for Editorial Matter: General standards – Part A, Code of the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc."
  17. ^ Cronin, Brian (September 6, 2007). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
  18. ^ Aushenker, Michael (April 2014). "Disposable Heroes". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (71): 36.
  19. ^ Conway, Gerry (writer). "At Last: The Decision!” Avengers #151 (September 1976).
  20. ^ a b c d Cronin, Brian. "Comic Legend: Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 was the first Comics Code approved story involving drugs" Archived 2011-12-23 at WebCite, Comic Book Resources, "Comic Book Legends Revealed" #226 (column), September 24, 2009
  21. ^ "Stan the Man & Roy the Boy: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas". Comic Book Artist (2). Summer 1998. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009.
  22. ^ For example, Now's Speed Buggy title began displaying the seal as of its 20th issue, cover-dated May 1989: Grand Comics Database entry, accessed Nov. 27, 2011.
  23. ^ a b c d Rogers, Vaneta (January 24, 2011). "The Comics Code Authority – Defunct Since 2009?". Newsarama. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011.
  24. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Bongo Dropped Comics Code A Year Ago – And No One Noticed", BleedingCool.com, January 21, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  25. ^ Lee, Jim. "From the Co-Publishers", "The Source" (column), DC Comics, January 20, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  26. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (January 21, 2011). "Archie Dropping Comics Code Authority Seal in February". Newsarama.com. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011.
  27. ^ "CBLDF Receives Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval". Comic Book Legal Defense Fund press release. September 29, 2011. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  28. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqNahTE7e9c

Bibliography

  • Dean, M. (2001) Marvel drops Comics Code, changes book distributor. The Comics Journal #234, p. 19.
  • Hajdu, David. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
  • Nyberg, Amy Kiste. Seal of Approval: History of the Comics Code. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998.
  • Original Comics Code
  • 1971 Revision
  • 1989 Revision

External links

Adult comics

The term adult comics typically denotes comic books, comic magazines, comic strips or graphic novels with content of an erotic, violent, or sophisticated nature, which appeals to adult readers. They are sometimes restricted to purchase by legal adults, especially erotic comics which include sexually explicit material.

American comic book

An American comic book is a thin periodical, typically 32 pages, containing comics content. While the form originated in 1933, American comic books first gained popularity after the 1938 publication of Action Comics, which included the debut of the superhero Superman. This was followed by a superhero boom that lasted until the end of World War II. After the war, while superheroes were marginalized, the comic book industry rapidly expanded, and genres such as horror, crime, science fiction and romance became popular. The 1950s saw a gradual decline, due to a shift away from print media in the wake of television and the impact of the Comics Code Authority. The late 1950s and the 1960s saw a superhero revival, and superheroes remain the dominant character archetype in the 21st century.

Some fans collect comic books, helping drive up their value. Some have sold for more than US $1 million. Comic shops cater to fans, selling comic books, plastic sleeves ("bags") and cardboard backing ("boards") to protect the comic books.

An American comic book is also known as a floppy comic. It is typically thin and stapled, unlike traditional books. American comic books are one of the three major comic book schools globally, along with Japanese manga and the Franco-Belgian comic books.

Creepy (magazine)

Creepy was an American horror-comics magazine launched by Warren Publishing in 1964. Like Mad, it was a black-and-white newsstand publication in a magazine format and thus did not require the approval or seal of the Comics Code Authority. An anthology magazine, it initially was published quarterly but later went bimonthly. Each issue's stories were introduced by the host character, Uncle Creepy. Its sister publications were Eerie and Vampirella.

Crime comics

Crime comics is a genre of American comic books and format of crime fiction. The genre was originally popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s and is marked by a moralistic editorial tone and graphic depictions of violence and criminal activity. Crime comics began in 1942 with the publication of Crime Does Not Pay published by Lev Gleason Publications and edited by Charles Biro. As sales for superhero comic books declined in the years after World War II, other publishers began to emulate the popular format, content and subject matter of Crime Does Not Pay, leading to a deluge of crime-themed comics. Crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics, came under official scrutiny in the late 1940s and early 1950s, leading to legislation in Canada and Great Britain, the creation in the United States of the Comics Magazine Association of America and the imposition of the Comics Code Authority in 1954. This code placed limits on the degree and kind of criminal activity that could be depicted in American comic books, effectively sounding the death knell for crime comics and their adult themes.

DC Comics rating system

The DC Comics rating system is a system for rating the content of comic books used by DC Comics. In 2011, DC Comics decided to withdraw from the Comics Code Authority and implement their own rating system for their comics. Rather than replicating the system used by Marvel Comics, DC Comics' system is more similar to video game ratings, specifically the ESRB. A few months later, Image Comics implemented a similar rating system to their own comics that followed the same system as DC.

Dracula Lives!

Dracula Lives! was an American black-and-white horror comics magazine published by Magazine Management, a corporate sibling of Marvel Comics. The series ran 13 issues and one annual publication from 1973 to 1975, and starred the Marvel version of the literary vampire Dracula.

A magazine rather than a comic book, it did not fall under the purview of the comics industry's self-censorship Comics Code Authority, allowing the title to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than color comics of the time. featuring Dracula stories.

Running concurrently with the longer-running Marvel comic The Tomb of Dracula, the continuities of the two titles occasionally overlapped, with storylines weaving between the two. Most of the time, however, the stories in Dracula Lives! were standalone Dracula tales by various creative teams. Later issues of Dracula Lives! featured a serialized adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano.

Epic Illustrated

Epic Illustrated was a comics anthology in magazine format published in the United States by Marvel Comics. Similar to the US-licensed comic book magazine Heavy Metal, it allowed explicit content to be featured, unlike the traditional American comic books of that time bound by the restrictive Comics Code Authority, as well as offering its writers and artists ownership rights and royalties in place of the industry-standard work for hire contracts. The series lasted 34 issues from Spring 1980–February 1986.

A color comic-book imprint, Epic Comics, was spun off in 1982.

Erotic comics

Erotic comics are adult comics which focus substantially on nudity and sexual activity, either for their own sake or as a major story element. As such they are usually not permitted to be sold to legal minors. Like other genres of comics, they can consist of single panels, short comic strips, comic books, or graphic novels/albums. Although never a mainstream genre, they have existed as a niche alongside – but usually separate from – other genres of comics.

During the mid-twentieth century, most comics were produced for children, and in North America the contents of most comics were constrained by the Comics Code Authority to be suitable for children. Consequently erotic comics have sometimes been subject to criticism and extra scrutiny compared to other forms of erotic art and storytelling. Additionally, the application of laws against child pornography to materials featuring fictional characters with no legal ages, have varied internationally.

Green Goblin Reborn!

"Green Goblin Reborn!" is a 1971 Marvel Comics story arc which features Spider-Man fighting against his arch enemy Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. This arc was published in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May–July 1971) and was plotted and written by Stan Lee, with art by penciler Gil Kane and inker John Romita Sr. It is recognized as the first mainstream comic publication which portrayed and condemned drug abuse since the formation of the Comics Code Authority, and in time led to the revision of the Code's rigidity.

John L. Goldwater

John Leonard Goldwater (born Max Leonard Goldwasser, February 14, 1916 – February 26, 1999) founded (with Maurice Coyne and Louis Silberkleit) MLJ Comics (later known as Archie Comics), and served as editor and co-publisher for many years. In the mid-1950s he was a key proponent and custodian of the comic book censorship guidelines known as the Comics Code Authority.

King Comics

King Comics, a short-lived comic book imprint of King Features Syndicate, was an attempt by King Features to publish comics of its own characters, rather than through other publishers. A few King Comics titles were picked up from Gold Key Comics. King Features placed former Gold Key editor Bill Harris in charge of the line.The line ran for approximately a year-and-a-half, with its series cover-dated from August 1966 to December 1967. The King Comics Flash Gordon title was well-received, winning three Alley Awards in 1966 and another in 1967. The series had distribution problems throughout its run. Several distributors refused to take the King Comics because their first issues lacked a Comics Code Authority seal; King subsequently obtained a CCA seal on all later King Comics issues. King Features tried to overcome the distribution problem by selling its titles in special "King Paks" of three to variety stores and supermarkets. This tactic failed to gain more readers, and the King Comics line was discontinued. Many stories created for King Comics were later published in the continuation of most of King's titles by Charlton Comics.

Marvel Comics rating system

The Marvel rating system is a system for rating the content of comic books, with regard to appropriateness for different age groups. In 2001, Marvel Comics withdrew from the Comics Code Authority and established its own rating system for its publications. This was precipitated by the CCA refusing approval of the seal due to the strong depiction of violence in X-Force #116, a comic written by Peter Milligan and drawn by Mike Allred. As well, by withdrawing from the CCA, this is seen as a move by editor-in-chief Joe Quesada to lure more high-profile creators to Marvel Comics. Today's ratings are usually found on the comic's UPC box.

Max (comics)

Max (sometimes stylized as MAX Comics) is an imprint of Marvel Comics that specializes in comic book media aimed at adult-only readers. It was launched in 2001 after Marvel broke with the Comics Code Authority and established its own rating system.The Max imprint is not Marvel's first effort in featuring explicit content in their titles. The company's Epic Comics imprint in the 1980s and early 1990s often featured stronger content than their mainstream imprint. However, the Max imprint is the first time Marvel has specifically produced comics with uncensored content.

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (feature)

"Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." was a feature in the comics anthology Strange Tales which began in 1965 and lasted until 1968. It introduced the fictional spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. into the Marvel Comics world and reintroduced the character of Nick Fury as an older character from his concurrently-running series Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, which was a series set during World War II. The feature replaced the previously running Human Torch feature in the book and ran alongside the Doctor Strange feature. After the feature ended, a comic book series was published which has had several volumes as well as a comic strip. The feature was originally created by the duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby who also created the original Sgt. Fury series but it was later taken over by artist and writer Jim Steranko. The feature was often censored by the Comics Code Authority due to Jim Steranko's provocative art; this art helped change the landscape of comics which Steranko continued with in the 1968 ongoing series. Much of Nick Fury's supporting cast originated in the feature and many of the devices used by these characters were often used in other comics published by Marvel.

Psychoanalysis (comics)

Psychoanalysis was a short-lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955 the fifth title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by William Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. Psychoanalysis was approved by the Comics Code Authority, but newsstands were reluctant to display it. It lasted a total of four issues before being canceled along with EC's other New Direction comics.

Savage Sword of Conan

The Savage Sword of Conan was a black-and-white magazine-format comic book series published beginning in 1974 by Curtis Magazines, an imprint of American company Marvel Comics, and then later by Marvel itself. Savage Sword of Conan starred Robert E. Howard's most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, and has the distinction of being the longest-surviving title of the short-lived Curtis imprint.

As a "magazine", Savage Sword of Conan did not have to conform to the Comics Code Authority, making it a publication of choice for many illustrators. It soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic. Roy Thomas was the editor and primary writer for the series' first few years (until issue 60), which featured art by illustrators such as Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, and Walter Simonson. Painted covers were provided by such artists as Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, and Joe Jusko.

Savage Sword of Conan was published under the Curtis imprint until issue 60, when it became part of the Marvel Magazine Group. Stories from the comic were reprinted in the Marvel UK title of the same name. The original run of Savage Sword of Conan ran until issue #235 (July 1995).

Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Savage Sword of Conan beginning in February 2019.

Seduction of the Innocent

Seduction of the Innocent is a book by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, published in 1954, that warned that comic books were a negative form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. The book was taken seriously at the time, and was a minor bestseller that created alarm in parents and galvanized them to campaign for censorship. At the same time, a U.S. Congressional inquiry was launched into the comic book industry. Subsequent to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code Authority was voluntarily established by publishers to self-censor their titles.

Tales of the Zombie

Tales of the Zombie was an American black-and-white horror comics magazine published by Magazine Management, a corporate sibling of Marvel Comics. The series ran 10 issues and one annual publication from 1973 to 1975, many featuring stories of the zombie Simon Garth by writer Steve Gerber and artist Pablo Marcos.

A magazine rather than a comic book, it did not fall under the purview of the comics industry's self-censorship Comics Code Authority, allowing the title to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than color comics of the time.

Vampire Tales

Vampire Tales was an American black-and-white horror comics magazine published by Magazine Management, a corporate sibling of Marvel Comics. The series ran 11 issues and one annual publication from 1973 to 1975, and featuring vampires as both protagonists and antagonists.

A magazine rather than a comic book, it did not fall under the purview of the comics industry's self-censorship Comics Code Authority, allowing the title to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than color comics of the time, featuring Dracula stories.

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