The Comics Code Authority: 1954 — 2011.

To much fun-fare and media attention, we got this on September 8, 1954.  In reaction to, for instance, this, a million “injuries to eyes” which profligated the comic book in the late 1940s and early 1950s — and had to be wiped out due to the massive epidemic of Juveniles injuring other kids’ eyes.

The Comics Code Authority is unveiled, and Code Administrator Charles Murphy shows its impact.  The character of Sarah Harper is given wrinkle cream and an amazing dentist.  Good taste abounds from here on out.

New York Times headline for December 24, 1954:  NEW’ COMIC BOOKS TO BE OUT IN WEEK; First ‘Approved’ Issues Put More Clothing on Heroines and Tone Down Violence . 

It’s a perpetual issue, and sometimes very real.

And on to:  Charles F Murphy, Administrator of the Comics Code Authority, will receive a citation for “outstanding contributions to cleaner literature” tomorrow at the sixteenth annual communion breakfast of the Hoy Name Society of blah blah Catholic Church Brooklyn.

It is an anachronism, as evidenced here, but I like following through on the history of anachronisms to its last dying deaths.  Then again, the comic book industry is something of an anacrhonism itself, and “you would be shocked at how low the circulation is” for just about any comic book.    Comic books ceased to be a mass medium at the advent of television.  They re-adjusted to a lucrative and narrower market, focused on the superhero genre, and sales have generally declined from there, moving full scale into comic book stores and leaving the supermarket and convenience stores, before edging back into the book stores.

The Comics Code Authority was not the death knell of the industry (artform?  medium?) — television was –, but I imagine probably pulled it through one moment in history to exist on some level.  Fifty-six years later, and to no fan-fare (there is a post at a Washington Post blog, and there is nothing at the New York Times), the Comics Code Authority is no more.

After yesterday’s news that DC Comics was dropping the Comics Code, leaving Archie the last surviving member of the Comics Code Authority…comes word that Archie has also dropped the Code, starting with books on sale in February.
Thus ends the last clinging particle of darkest days in comics history, an era that did its best to choke the life out of an artform — but didn’t succeed.

When the Green Lantern opted out of the Code to tell a “relevant” story in 1971, it made the New York Times. 

I don’t know who was looking over the submissions of DC Comics and Archie Comics over the past few years, and I am finding it hard to see them underlining anything and charging back to publisher headquarters to get things back into its proper guidelines.  The first people looking them over included — as you see in that image — a “Charles Murphy”, and Archie publisher John Goldwater.  There are veiled and not veiled opinions about the role of Archie Comics in the creation and administration of the Comics Code Authority — he sure threw EC Comics out of business!  But and on that score, it is approrpriate that they are the last publisher to ascede — there for the creation, there for the burial.  Question of the day:  what will be the last comic book approved by the now defunct “Comics Code Authority”, and will someone please nit-pick some affront for outrage from out of its contents?

Leave a Reply