Curiouser and Curiouser

Now that the code no longer exists, a search shows the deeper truth, one which I would have supposed:  The “Comics Code Authority” has been a Zombie Organization for the past two years, unreachable (even as nobody has had any reason to try to reach them).  Or, more propertly referred to as a “Zuvembie Organization“.

But Newsarama hasn’t been able to locate any evidence that the organization was functioning since 2009. And Archie Comics has indicated that it wasn’t actually submitting comics for approval to the Comics Magazine Association of America, which oversaw the Code.

We haven’t submitted for a year or more,” said Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito.

When asked if the CMAA was even functioning anymore, Pellerito said, “I don’t think they are.”

Joe Field, president of the comics’ retailer organization ComicsPRO, said he believes that, in recent years, the ability to use the Code stamp was given to any publishers who paid dues to the CMAA, without a requirement for submittal.

“It used to be that everything had to go through the Code, be stamped and sealed, and then could be sent off to the printer,” Field said. “I think that, over the last number of years — and it’s kind of obvious, because there were things that wound up with a Code seal that would have never gotten through the code — if a company was up on their dues, they could put the Code on their book.”

The last odd bit of information I see comes about here, a telling bit on what the Authority has been up to:

Apparently a long time ago the Authority was involved in providing comics racks to retailers. That little blurb that used to be in comics in the early sixties about retailers contacting somebody about a “display allowance” was from the code. However since the code’s entire income in 2008 was only about $38,000 I doubt they’ve been doing much promotion lately. That’s barely enough to pay a part time reviewer.

Writing the history of the end of the Comics Code Authority revolves around finding the last representative doing the last item of any official business for the Code.  But there’s just two years where Archie Comics and DC Comics could have had all kinds of heads in refrigerators with the code on the cover (see nine paragraphs down here), and nobody calling them out on it:

The CMAA was formerly managed by Kellen Company, a trade organization management firm. The organization was represented by Holly Munter Koenig.
But when Newsarama contacted Koenig on Friday, she said Kellen Company has not managed the CMAA since 2009. She referred all questions about the CMAA to DC Comics.

Wertham would not be amused.  Nor would these two women.

2 Responses to “Curiouser and Curiouser”

  1. SME Says:

    Someone should really make a movie about this.

  2. Justin Says:

    I assume you don’t mean the final slow fade of the Code — DC and Archie not sending their comics to be looked at by anybody but continuing to publish the Code insignia out of habit and because its been incorporated into their cover design does not lend itself to cinematography.

    There is a book.

    From which we get some stories of community mass comic book burning bonfires (I gather David Hajdu found pretty much all of them) and the implementation of the code in its early months. From pages 306-310

    During the Code authority’s first two months of operation, Murphy and his staff of five (all college graduates, the CMAA pointed out, and all women) screened 440 issues of 285 comic-books; they rejected 126 stories outright and called for changes in 5,656 panels of art. Member publishers discontinued 38 titles that could not meet the Code’s restrictions — not only horror and crime comics, but romances. Now required to “emphasize the value of the home and sanctity of marriage,” romance comics could no longer provide an outlet for young women (and men) to come to terms with conflicting impulses and points of view. Dana Dutch could no longer write scripts for stories such as “I Gave Boys the Green Light” and “Tourist Cabin Escapade”. Nor could any writers challenge any “respected institutions” — marriage, school, family, government, or others in stories that could “create disrespect for established authority” […]
    On the stories they accepted, Murphy’s censors enforced the minutiae of the Code fastiduously. About a fourth of the revisions called for in the Code’s first two months were intended to desexualize the females by streamlining their proportions or adding more clothes. (“Ladies in the Comic Books to be in Height of Style”, announced a headline in the Roanoke World News; comic-book women would now “look like so many dress models on Christian Dior.” reported the article, “Flat in front”. For an issue of Love Problems and Advice Illustrated, the opening “splash page” art for one story, “Love Flirt” was published with the head of an attractive woman floating in a full-page square of solid black — the character’s entire body had been brushed over with ink. Throughout the tale to follow, block patches covered sections of panels, and word balloons had cryptic blank spaces where dialouge had been whited out […] A young man, approaching a woman at a party in “Love Flirt” said, “Come on” — blank space — “Let’s dance” — sizable blank space. […]
    Many of the revisions called for by the Code authority were matters of softening, even sweeteing the imageery, often in ways contrary to both the intentions of the story and the essence of the Comics Code. In the original version of the Super Mystery Comics story, one of the bad guys had angular versions and receding harline. Much the same, countless heavies and wenches and ghouls were redrawn with nicer hairdos, better skin (or simply skin instead of skeletal bones), neater clothes, and happier faces. Images of Satan were invariably changed, with horns and fangs removed; the resulting character was no longer pure evil, just somewhat less pleasant than other fellows. […]
    Russ Heath submitted a drawing of a baseball player at bat, taking a hard, full swing, and he was ordered to remove the sweat from the batter’s brow. John Severin had to white out the dagger in a villian’s hand, while the slash in the victim’s chest was permitted to stay, giving the impression the bad guy had stabbed the other fellow with his finger. Dick Ayers was a regular artist on The Rawhide Kid, a character named for the bullwhip he always carried; under the code, the Rawhide Kid lost the whip and took up farming. Joe Edwards, an artist for Archie, was told to lower the skirts and loosen the blouses on Betty and Veronica. […]
    Dick Girarodino, who wound up engaged full time in the task of shuttling pages between the CMAA and Charltain. “My contact was with the reviwers, who I’ve always believed were chosen for their capacity to uphold the Code by being as snotty as they felt for having the misfortune to read comics for a living and eal with the cretins who producted them. […]
    Herb Rogoff, Ziff Davis: “They were outrageous, the Comics Code. They had a bunch of old biddies, ex school teachers, sitting up there and telling us what we had to do. They blue penciled everything. You could find anything that’s objectionable if you’re looking for it. We had a picture of a woman in 3/4 view. So we had the outline of one breast, and then we had the half circle that showed the other breast. They wanted that out. Now, I said, “This is madness. Are you going to change the anatomy of a woman?” They said, “You don’t have to be that explicit.” I said, “Are you trying to teach kids that a woman does not have two breasts? What is your intent here? There said “That is lascivious.” It was infuriating, it was demeaning, and it was insulting.

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