Tagged: Comics Code

Michael Davis: Seduction Of The Not So Innocent.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Board of Education which overturned Jim Crow racial segregation in the public schools. That mattered little in most of the country when white privilege was normalized, and white supremacy went unchallenged. Black people had no real say. Whites controlled most everything, as they still do to a great extent.

Since the 1950s black and brown people have been demanding their rights and as expected in a nation of so many different viewpoints there has been push back.

This time a distinction between the past is evident. It appears the soon to be the leader of the free world Donald Trump is now leading any pushback on racial resolutions. His actions over time and in particular the last few years support this.

Some of the Trump race record includes:

Attacking Muslim Gold Star parents

Claimed a judge was biased because “he’s a Mexican.” (In fact, he was an American)

The Justice Department sued his company ― twice ― for not renting to black people

Refused to condemn the white supremacists who were campaigning for him

Never apologized to President Obama for saying he was not born in the United States

He encouraged the mob justice that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five.

From The Huffington Post

In 1989, Trump took out full-page ads in four New York City-area newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty in New York and the expansion of police authority in response to the infamous case of a woman who was beaten and raped while jogging in Manhattan’s Central Park.

“They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes,” Trump wrote, referring to the Central Park attackers and other violent criminals. “I want to hate these murderers and I always will.” The public outrage over the Central Park jogger rape, at a time when the city was struggling with high crime, led to the wrongful conviction of five teenagers of color known as the Central Park Five. The men’s convictions were overturned in 2002 after they’d already spent years in prison when DNA evidence showed they did not commit the crime. Today, their case is considered a cautionary tale about a politicized criminal justice process.

Trump, however, still thinks the men are guilty.

The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States. The act significantly widened the franchise and is considered among the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.

That was then.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

That’s happening, in fact, it already happened.

It’s becoming harder much harder for poor people and people of color to vote. That’s been tried but this time every branch of government is under one party.

One party under the control of a man who lies without the slightest remorse. Don’t take my word for it: here’s the record.

This record clearly shows he has no “great relationship with the blacks.”

Debating facts isn’t my thing. Is it possible Trump has the kind of respect he says he does for black people? Sure, it’s possible, but as a black man I’ve got too much to lose to pretend what he’s done and said before just don’t exist.

Feel free to disagree but do so with facts. Opinion is not fact and what I’ve attributed to Trump isn’t opinion.

My opinion is he is a liar and perhaps a racist the facts clearly show he has acted as both on many occasions.

With notable exceptions, the comic book industry, after trouncing Thump when thought he couldn’t win, has been silent after his did.

In 1954, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham cautioned the world comic books were damaging to young minds and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency.

He did so in his book Seduction of the Innocent.

To say the book was influential would be an understatement. Taken so very seriously at the time parents and teachers joined to combat this attack on the youth of America. Fueled by the televised lynching of American freedoms brought on by McCarthyism attacking comic books was a no-brainer.

•     •     •     •     •

Gerard Jones, a comics writer whose career includes writing Green Lantern and The Trouble with Girls and writing and co-creating Prime for Malibu, has been arrested on suspicions of putting child pornography on YouTube.

Full disclosure, I knew Gerald and was shocked by these charges. That being said I am not here to defend nor am I here to condemn him. He’s accused of a horrible crime, but I’ll wait until he has his day in court to pass judgment.

I will say this; it never fails to amaze me how those who swear by the ‘law of the land’ always seem to ignore any presumption of innocence.

I have no sympathy for those who prey on children. For that there is no excuse, none. There is also no reason for damning a person before all the facts are known. I’m pretty sure some will take what I just wrote as defending Gerald. I clearly wrote I am not doing so.

If found guilty he should get and deserves jail. I’m not afraid to say that nor am I afraid to say I find the charges hard to believe. I pray he’s innocent, but I allow that he may not be.

The facts will be revealed in court and not on Twitter, Facebook or Bleeding Cool.

There’s a real threat to comics no matter what the outcome of a trial.

Every branch of government is poised to follow the lead of the next President Of The United States.

It will only take one inquiry into this case to give rise to a new comic book investigation. Kids, sex, and comics?  That’s a dream come true for an extreme Right Winger with a hankering to clean up the depravity in Hollywood.

The turning back of the clock has already begun on black America. Can what we watch read or write be far behind?

•     •     •     •     •

In 1954 much of what Wertham told the public was bullshit and lies.

From Wikipedia:

Wertham “manipulated, overstated, compromised, and fabricated evidence” in support of the contentions expressed in Seduction of the Innocent. He intentionally mis-projected both the sample size and substance of his research, making it out to be more objective and less anecdotal than it truly was. He did not adhere to standards worthy of scientific research, instead of using questionable evidence as rhetorical ammunition for his argument that comics were a cultural failure.

Sound familiar?

Congress convened hearings on the comic book industry and the industry folded like a bitch and as such the Comics Code was born.

Perhaps folding like a bitch was harsh. It was a different time and America was in a different place, and so were we.

But It appears it’s a place our next president wants to return us to. If they come for us, will we go?

Mike Gold: Super-Puberty!


I was walking through Grand Central Terminal yesterday on my way to one of our more entertaining ComicMix senior staff meetings. Grand Central is my favorite place in all of New York City – the massive cathedral ceilings, the stunning pre-Great War architecture, the clean and open lanes for pedestrian traffic… It’s really very inspiring, and, indeed, I was inspired to write this particular column.

For absolutely no reason whatsoever, I started thinking about Superman’s adolescence. Oh, I was influenced by the first issue of Max Landis’s Superman: Alien American, a solid and worthy start to the mini-series. But that, in turn, reminded me of some of my favorite Superboy stories from my ancient and decrepit youth – those where Pa Kent patiently taught his son how to manage, deploy and exacerbate his Kryptonian powers.

SuperboyThose were sweet stories with which most members of its target audience could identify. Our parents were busy teaching us how to ride our bikes, build model planes and monsters, and make decisions based upon common sense and not on impulse. Learning how to fly was just one step beyond.

We already knew that young Clark would make it into adulthood, but discovering the hows and the whys was quite comforting. However, given the Comics Code Authority as well as the marketing sentiments of the time, there were areas undocumented in Superboy and in Adventure Comics.

I am speaking of the dreadful but necessary curse of puberty, and I am addressing this subject from the perspective of boys in the very early Sixties. Girls had their own crosses to bare, but neither Clark nor I are in any position to comment from experience. I’d say something like “but I can only imagine” but that would be really creepy.

Obviously, Clark would start growing hair in places previously barren of foliage. Being smart than the average bear, he would have understood this and probably feel he was becoming a man. But those are super-hormones kicking in. That would be particularly messy, and it could have been rather dangerous to his family, to the farm animals, and to the buildings on the Kent Farm property. We’re better off not knowing. For one thing, the cover shot would be against Code.

As puberty intrudes, Clark’s voice would start to change. To be specific, it would crack. I do not know what sort of impact such cracking sound would have on nearby windows, champagne glasses, eardrums… think of the Grateful Dead using a chalkboard as a heavily amplified musical instrument. Before long, his voice would settle down into a nice adult groove, but I think Clark might “keep” his pre-puberty voice for Clark and his post-puberty voice for the Man of Steel. Hey, it worked for Bud Collyer (pictured above), the first actor to play the role on radio and in the Fleisher cartoons.

He’s also go through rather amazing growth spurts that would wreck havoc with Clark’s civilian clothing and the Kent family budget. All parents go through this, but not on a Kryptonian scale. He’d shred his clothes and shoes, and probably confuse the hell out of Krypto.

Of course, if Clark was a typical American Earthling entering adolescence – and he was raised to be just that – that X-Ray vision would help him get though many a dark night. No need for him to smuggle in copies of Playboy and Caviler. But, being raised in Kansas by caring members of society, I would think that Clark would quickly understand that with great hormones comes great guilt.

At least I’d hope so.

A few years later, The Who would record “I Can See for Miles.” Well, Clark could do that already. Would his concern for his secret identity stop him from reacting to Lana Lang slipping out with Pete Ross? I doubt it.

Being of that age, Clark would quietly use his powers to turn that date into the road show for Carrie. He’d stop Pete and any other potential suitors cold. If Clark Kent were Reggie Mantle, Archie Andrews would be a priest.

Thankfully, Clark Kent is not Peter Pan. I’m sure he would endeavor to do the right thing. But, puberty is a bitch… and high school is worse. All this is in preparation for one single event.

Losing one’s virginity.

Losing one’s super-virginity.

Dennis O’Neil: This Shall Not Change!

I guess I should put some kind of SPOILER WARNING right here, up front. Isn’t that a rule?

So Arrow has made a devil’s deal with Ras Al Ghul and, in exchange for his sister’s life, agreed to become one of Ras’s League of Assassins. What next? I’ll be watching the CW on Wednesday night to find out, but in your time zone, that was yesterday.

The storyline is based on one that appeared in Batman some years ago. Adapting a Batman plot to the Arrow really isn’t much of a stretch – the characters, though impressive, are both thoroughly human and operate pretty much on the same scale. (I’m tempted to call it “mythic” but that might be edging toward pomposity so let’s settle for “primordial” and get on with it. Or is “primordial more pompous than mythic?)

The Arrow creative folk are basing their drama on the old Batman continuity to which I contributed, but they’re taking the basic ideas further and in the process making improvements. As I was watching the show I wondered if those improvements occurred to me, way back when.  Almost certainly not. Why? Well, uh…maybe because they break, or broke, some of the rules of superhero writing. And where, exactly, did I learn these rules? Were they written down, maybe on the walls of the publishing office? Given to me as part of a “welcome aboard” package? Or did some paternal executive, kindly eyes twinkling behind rimless glasses, take me aside and explain the facts of life to the new kid?

Nope, nope, and nope.

My best guess is, I intuited them, or figured them out, from the comic books I’d read. This, obviously, was how things were done. I’m not talking about sex or violence – we knew those had to be approached gingerly because of the times we were living in and that was no problem; I didn’t, and don’t, yearn to splash hormones and blood across the pages of comics. (The mandate, as always, is if the elements in question don’t serve the narrative, they probably don’t belong in the story.) No, the kind of unwritten taboo we’re discussing might have been broached if I’d had my masked vigilante reveal his real identity to the world, or had him ally with the villain, as Arrow apparently did last week.

Would rebellious li’l ol’ me have gotten away with such transgressions? Hard to say. Might have depended on who I was working for. Editors have their individual foibles. And there seemed to be no one way of reading and interpreting the Comics Code, the industry’s self-censoring tsar which was, presumably, the real rule setter. But nothing in the Code’s protocol mentioned double identities (though there was, if memory serves, a provision that dictated that the bad guys had to be in custody by story’s end.

(I did get away with depriving Green Arrow of his fortune and sending both the original Batwoman and Black Canary’s husband, Larry Lance, to their eternal rewards. Maybe nobody noticed.)

I guess the overarching commandment was: This Shall Not Change.

Some form of that is probably still The Commandment, but the enforcement is much more generous.

Alas, there was no rule, written or unwritten, that guarantees a great story every time out. There still isn’t. If I’m wrong about that, somebody please let me know.

Mike Gold: Archie – WTF?

I know it says “Dark Circle” on the cover. In the past the cover has said “Red Circle” and before that “Archie” and before that “MLJ.” But it’s all Archie Comics to me, and I mean that as a compliment.

I think their first “Dark Circle” comic book was The Fox, by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid. I loved it. I say “I think” because comics publishers do reboots faster than elves make shoes. Maybe the next Fox by Haspiel and Waid will restart the series again. But, for conversation’s sake, let’s say last week’s Black Hood #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos was the second Dark Circle title.

And that’s where I got confused.

First, for the record, I liked this latest Black Hood. Like most contemporary comics, there wasn’t enough story in the first issue for me to make a real commitment, but I enjoyed what I read, deployed some clever concepts, and I look forward to the next issue. I can’t say that about a lot of costumed superhero comics these days.

But… well… damn… it’s still an Archie Comic. It says so right there on the copyright notice. And it was Archie Comics (as opposed to “Archie comics”) that heralded “approved reading.” It was Archie’s cofounder John Goldwater who created the Comics Code. In fact, after all the other publishers dropped the Code, Archie was the last publisher at the table. Briefly. They drank the last survivor’s wine and dropped out. That was in 2011.

I started reading comics about the time the Code came along, so forgive me when I say I’m a bit taken aback when I read an Archie Comic and encounter the word “asshole” twice, “shit” three times, and “fuck” seven times.

Yes, I counted.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using such language. It’s been commonplace for a long time, and using the real words is much better than using stupid euphemisms that simply implant the censored word into the reader’s mind anyway. Fuck hypocrisy!

But… damn… it’s an Archie Comic! Does this mean they’re going to hire S. Clay Wilson for their Fly-Girl title? Hey, that would be great!

But it does make me wonder. Archie Comics is about to reboot Archie comics with the melodious words of Mark Waid. How many cans of Tree Frog Beer can Reggie Mantle chug? And what’s the real reason why they call Forsythe Pendleton Jones III… Jughead?

Maybe they’ll give a new answer to the time-old question “Are you a Betty, or a Veronica?”