Saturday, February 28, 2009


A little background on the Comics Code Authority as we discussed in class last Friday:
From Wikipidia on 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 bad form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. The book 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."

In order to avoid government regulation, the publishers decided to form the Comics Code Authority to police themselves. The Code approved books had a small symbol that appeared on the cover (as seen at the top of the post).

Several books over the years were published without Code approval. Most notably a 1971 Spider-Man that dealt with drug abuse.
As times changed, the Code became an anachronism. Today only DC and Archie Comics are submitted for Code approval, and DC only submits the titles in its juvenile line.

As a long time comics reader, I grew up with Code approved books. The switch by the major publishers away from Code approval that began in the 1990s was a move that was welcomed by the majority of comics fandom. Today, as the average age of the comics reader increases, and the publishers are desperately seeking ways to bring in new, young readers; new juvenile stories that could have passed in the Code days are being published as part of entire series that are aimed at the childrem of current fans. The publishers know that the current readership will not sustain them into the future and need the young audience. An audience that they can not get with the "mature" stories in the mainstrean titles today.


  1. I'm in two minds about the Code. on the one hand, it was, obviously, a terrible injustice that was done to Bill Gaines & EC. but, on the other, pretty much every comic that I can think of that I love was published when the code was in force. the great writers and artists found a way around it, and, I think, produced better work for that.

    we need a lot less "mature" stories back in comics.

  2. Agreed. I grew up on 70s and 80s Marvel and DC. Those stories made me the fan that I am today. When I visit comics stores, there are no kids in sight. Growing up, I got all my books from convenience store. The kinds of places that no longer carry comics. Where will the next generation of readers come from?