Today’s Era In Comics
We have been told that children’s games are no joke “Well for me that is!” what that means is, children today and adults are acting violently from reading comic books and playing video games. Through out history reports from all over the United States quotes “Comic Books is expanding and the cause of Sex, Drugs, Killings, And Gangs.” So why read comic books? Well during the 1970’s era in comics (Silver Age of Comics) Green Arrow issue #86 and #87 shows Green Arrow previous sidekick (Speedy) taking drugs, having this issue have had the government take action along the media, it expanded drugs all over the nation but drugs have gotten big before comics evolved in a community conflict base.
Was Horror Comics The Cause?
In the 1950’s Horror comics transfer the name from heroism of comics to the faction of Ill-Will of comics. Horror comics was based on the creatures of the myth we all know and love, from Dracula to Wolfman and Zombies to Murders. While there are other precursors to the American horror comic, it’s widely accepted that the first with original content was Avon Publications’ Eerie Comics anthology published in 1947. Horror Comics were refined to the heights of mainstream popularity during a period from 1949-1955 by William M. Gaines’ EC Publications. With their “murderer’s row” of horror titles, anchored by The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, and the hugely popular Tales From the Crypt, they dominated the market until they were shut down by a growing public backlash against horror and crime comics.
Fueled by Dr. Fredrick Wertham and the Senate subcommittee hearings on juvenile delinquency, the major comics publishers of the time banded together and created a self censorship body that all but ended horror comics in the United States. The Comics Code Authority would hold a hammer-lock on American comics publishing for the next several decades.
Horror comics didn’t altogether disappear, however and in 1957 James Warren filled the void left by the implosion of EC by publishing Famous Monsters of Filmland, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman. Printed as a black and white magazine Famous Monsters was not subject to the CCA oversight, and the format would persist with Warren adding more horror titles like Vampirella, Creepy and Eerie.
In 1969 Joe Orlando took over the editorial reigns of DC’s long running House of Mystery anthology series that had survived the Comics Code Authority by changing its format to more acceptable light mysteries and science fiction stories. Orlando took the series back to its horror roots with the full support of DC and the CCA relaxed its censorship standards. Two years later, using the CCA’s relaxed standards to full advantage, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson debuted The Swamp Thing in House of Secrets #92.
The character proved popular enough to warrant his own series, and The Swamp Thing #1 debuted in 1972. Swamp Thing was rebooted in 1982 to capitalize on the Wes Craven film released that same year, and it has continued publication in one form or another to this day. In 1984 writer Alan Moore brought out Saga of the Swamp Thing #29 which had the distinction of being the first mainstream comic book published in decades without the CCA seal of approval. This trend continued with DC eventually tying most of their non code approved books into their Vertigo imprint.
Traditionally, The Comics Code Authority had governed the medium for decades with its own strict set of standards of taste and content. Comics that did not achieve the required standard would not be allowed to display the CCA badge on the cover and non-compliance often meant that retailers wouldn’t stock those titles. As time progressed, more and more creators railed against the censorship imposed by the CCA, and during the 1990’s upstart publisher Chaos! Comics openly mocked the CCA badge with their own skull faced “Chaos Approved” symbol to show that their output was deliberately not seeking to meet CCA approval. By 1999 most mainstream companies were publishing routinely without submitting to the CCA board and in 2011 DC, the last holdout finally dropped CCA submissions altogether, officially rendering the CCA defunct. Horror comics were free at last.
Comic Book Code Of Authority
Meanwhile after the violence in comic books, The CBCA (Comic Book Code Of Authority) took the action their hands to contain the violence to effect the minds of young readers. The Seal of Approval, once prominently displayed on comic book covers, quietly disappeared in 2011. For nearly 60 years, however, censors funded by the comic book industry enforced rules about acceptable content. Only comics that passed a pre-publication review carried the seal.
Designed to resemble a stamp, the seal bore the words “Approved by the Comics Code Authority,” which was the regulatory arm of the Comics Magazine Association of America. The trade association’s Comics Code Authority and its Seal of Approval were the publishers’ answer to their critics.
Comic Book Critics
Controversy over comic books surfaced shortly their debut in the 1930s. The first group to object to comics was educators, who saw comics as a bad influence on students’ reading abilities and literary tastes. They filled professional journals with suggestions on how to wean their pupils from superhero tales. Comic books also represented a threat to their authority – for the first time, children could select their own leisure reading material.
Church and civic groups added their members’ voices to protests. They objected to “immoral” content such as scantily clad women in jungle comics and the glorification of villains in crime comics. The Catholic Church’s National Office of Decent Literature added comics to the materials it evaluated.
In postwar America, a new focus on juvenile delinquency drew a third group into the debate over the effects of comics – mental health experts. Among them was Dr. Fredric Wertham, a noted New York City psychiatrist, who campaigned to ban the sales of comics to children. He argued that children imitated the actions of comic book characters and that the content desensitized children to violence.
Seduction of the Innocent
Wertham is often ridiculed as a failed social scientist whose studies of the effects of comics lack credibility, but that is an unfair characterization. His case against comics is actually built on his practice of social psychiatry, which examines social and cultural influences on behavior, including popular culture. However, in articles for popular magazines written by and about Wertham, the underpinnings of his work were left out in favor of anecdotes that Wertham realized would resonate more with the audience.
The best-known of the comic book critics, he advocated for comic book legislation by presenting his work in professional venues, by testifying at legislative hearings, and by publicizing his views in popular media. His efforts focused national attention on comics but resulted in no legislation. Discouraged, he wrote a book he hoped would raise public awareness about comics. He published Seduction of the Innocent in spring 1954.
Wertham’s renewed attack on comic books prompted the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency to begin its investigation of the effects of mass media with the comic book industry. Senators staged hearings in New York City on April 21-22 and June 4, 1954, calling a number of witnesses to testify.
Comic Book Regulation Today
The impact of the 1989 code eroded as comic books disappeared from the shelves of general retailers. Comic book specialty stores willingly carried comics without the Seal of Approval, and even members of the CMAA created imprints for the direct market, bypassing the review process.
Marvel struck a major blow to the viability of the CMAA’s self-regulatory code in 2001 when it withdrew from the Comics Code Authority in favor of an in-house rating system. By 2011, only two publishers printed the Seal of Approval on the cover of their comics, Archie and DC. DC comics announced in January 2011 it was dropping the Seal of Approval, and Archie soon followed.
Today, publishers regulate the content of their own comics. The demise of the Comics Code Authority and its symbol, the Seal of Approval, marks elimination of industry-wide self-regulation, against which there is little legal recourse. Now, the comic book community can answer its critics by invoking its First Amendment rights, assisted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, whose mission is to protect those rights through legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education.