UPDATE! The Last One Left TURNED Off The Lights!
Archie Comics, the last remaining subscriber to the Comics Code Authority, dropped their participation.
That’s it for the Code. My heart goes out to every cartoonist who lost his or her job in the 1950s when that rat-bastard started dropping its load on the comics medium.
Or, as they say in Oz, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!”
Now back to our previously schedule rant…
Well, it only took 57 years, but DC Comics finally quit
the Comics Code Authority.
This useless relic of more paranoid times stifled
creativity for much of the past six decades before turning irrelevant as
traditional newsstands became quaint relics of the ancient past. Back in the
1950s comic books were equated with juvenile delinquency and were subjected to
hysterical editorials in major national magazines and even televised
At a time when drug stores, newsstands and candy stores
were struggling to stay in business due to competition from shopping strips and
malls, neither publishers nor retailers needed the drama. Publishers banded
together to create an industrial censorship committee composed of narrow-minded
professional virgins who had been without work ever since local movie
censorship boards were disbanded in the early 1930s due to the Motion Picture
But, you may ask, how do I really feel about the Code?
DC’s moving to a system of self-determined branding
similar to that adopted by the video game racket. But unlike the last time DC
tried such an action, it is doubtful the loudest members of today’s creative
community will complain. We’re all used to the “E for everyone, T for teen, T+
for adults who act like teens, and M for “dirty stuff” mature” system.
Marvel abandoned the Code ten years ago, and Bongo (The Simpsons, Futurama) did so last
year. That leaves only Archie Comics, whose co-founder John Goldwater wrote the
original Code back in the day. Archie’s now on its third, and perhaps most
creative, generation of Goldwaters and Silberkleits, and given their commitment
to bring their line into the 21st Century I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re
the ones who turn out the lights.
Amusingly, I was involved in the 1986 attempt to rewrite
the Code. I was senior editor at DC, and my boss Dick Giordano hated the Code
with a passion worthy of Ted Rall. He knew I shared his sentiments, so when the
Code wanted to modernize he ordered me to represent the company. Mark Gruenwald
represented Marvel, Victor Gorelick repped Archie, and Alan Harvey the company
after which he was named. Mark shared my feelings about the Code – most old
fanboys do – and Vic and Alan had a great sense of humor. We modernized the
Code into something innocuous.
Within weeks, Now Comics submitted a book that made fun of
the Code. The Code denied approval. We asked where in our Code it said publishers can’t make fun of the Code. The Code
vetoed the book anyway. Our committee was abandoned. Nobody was surprised. I
went on to focus on DC’s new format of non-Code “for mature (!) readers” books
like The Question, Green Arrow, and Wasteland.
The Comics Code has been coughing up blood for twenty
years. I hope it does not outlive the comic book.