Wednesday, February 25, 2009

History for the Independant 101: A Next 100 lesson Pt. 1

Planet Griffin has been studying history. Those of us who will be the Next 100 must take stock in the history of this business--- especially now that the indie field is threatened with being driven back into the underground by big business.

Let's call this the New 101, shall we?

I'm amazed at how far we've come in the comics society... After the publishing of the infamous Seduction of the Innocent by Frederick Wertham (1954), the scathing indictment of comic books began. A Senate subcommittee hearing would scare the comics industry into creating the well-known Comics Code of Authority--- During the time of it's inception, the big, bad granddaddy of the comics medium was none other than William Gaines, creator and operator of EC Comics (try to imagine Marvel or DC today, and you get an idea of EC then).

With the CCA in place, Marvel began to compete, scaling down the numbers of Gaines publications and eventually forcing EC out of business. The age of superheroes had truly began.
Take a minute to actually read the guidelines of what the CCA actually was and you'll see the pattern emerge rather quickly:

General Standard A:

  1. 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.
  2. No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.
  3. Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  4. If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  5. Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates the desire for emulation.
  6. In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  7. Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  8. No unique or unusual methods of concealing weapons shall be shown.
  9. Instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities should be discouraged.
  10. The crime of kidnapping shall never be portrayed in any detail, nor shall any profit accrue to the abductor or kidnapper. The criminal or the kidnapper must be punished in every case.
  11. The letter of the word "crime" on a comics magazine shall never be appreciably greater than the other words contained in the title. The word "crime" shall never appear alone on a cover.
  12. Restraint in the use of the word "crime" in titles or subtitles shall be exercised.

General Standard B:

  1. No comic magazine shall use the word "horror" or "terror" in its title.
  2. All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  3. All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  4. Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or 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.
  5. Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.

General Standard C:

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, shall be prohibited.


  1. Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  2. Special precautions to avoid references to physical afflictions or deformities shall be taken.
  3. Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and wherever possible good grammar shall be employed.


Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.


  1. Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  2. Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  3. All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.
  4. Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.

Marriage and Sex:

  1. Divorce shall not be treated humorously nor shall be represented as desirable.
  2. Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at or portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
  3. Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honorable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for moral distortion.
  4. The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.
  5. Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower and baser emotions.
  6. Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  7. Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.

Code For Advertising Matter:

  1. Liquor and tobacco advertizing is not acceptable.
  2. Advertisement of sex or sex instructions books are unacceptable.
  3. The sale of picture postcards, "pin-ups," "art studies," or any other reproduction of nude or semi-nude figures is prohibited.
  4. Advertising for the sale of knives, concealable weapons, or realistic gun facsimiles is prohibited.
  5. Advertising for the sale of fireworks is prohibited.
  6. Advertising dealing with the sale of gambling equipment or printed matter dealing with gambling shall not be accepted.
  7. 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.
  8. To the best of his ability, each publisher shall ascertain that all statements made in advertisements conform to the fact and avoid misinterpretation.
  9. Advertisement of medical, health, or toiletry products of questionable nature are to be rejected. Advertisements for medical, health or toiletry products endorsed by the American Medical Association, or the American Dental Association, shall be deemed acceptable if they conform with all other conditions of the advertising code.
Kinda makes sense after you read it...
Nowadays, the code has disappeared, Gaines did, in fact, have the last laugh, and the freedoms unheard of back in the day are now commonplace. Or are they?

If any of this sounds a little familiar to the old-schoolers out there, it may remind you of the historic Diamond Retailer's Con way back in 1994, when Frank Miller gave a keynote address that shocked the industry and shed light on what was really going on back then. Times have changed, to be sure, but if you look rather closely at the state of affairs as of late, you'll see that the more things change, the more they remain the same... Marinade on that and give feedback.

Learn the history people... Or be doomed to repeat it.

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

Deng so interesting... that's a good read and good to know.