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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 01/22/2011

QUICK POST: Only 56 years later, the CCA seal of censorship is dead

By Michael Cavna


Even the malt shop has now shed that decrepit vestige from the '50s.

Archie Comics and DC Comics -- the last two publishers said to still carry the cobwebbed Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval -- will no longer bear the CCA's badge of McCarthy-era fear, hysteria and grand overreaction.

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DC Comics announced this week on its Source blog that it would "employ a rating system consistent with that of the rest of the industry, as well as with our digital releases, which already utilize a rating system." (And the 1955 logo comes full circle: It was a DC artist/letterer -- Ira Schapp, father of the classic "Action Comics" logo -- who reportedly also designed the CCA seal.)

Now, Archie reportedly will cease to carry the CCA logo beginning next month. "Archie is the final publisher to announce that it will no longer use the Code logo to identify kid-safe entertainment, ending an era that started in 1954 in the wake of the Congressional hearings on comics content and juvenile delinquency," reports icv2 today.

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Those congressional smells-like-Salem hearings, of course, gained great fuel from the infamous psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, who crusaded against comics of the era by wielding his 1954 tome, "Seduction of the Innocent." and all but killing EC Comics.

At least the late publisher William Gaines's MAD magazine -- having risen phoenixlike from the ashes of that witch hunt -- survives to smile a gap-toothed grin at today's news and reply smugly: "What, me worry?"

By Michael Cavna  | January 22, 2011; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  General, The Comic Book  | Tags:  Archie Comics, Comics Code Authority, DC Comics, EC Comics, Fredric Wertham, Ira Schnapp, William Gaines  
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Comments

It's no surprise that DC is shedding the CCA seal. Ever since Marvel decided to reinvent itself as a purveyor to Hollywood of intellectual properties -- I think Holden Caulfield would accuse both companies of "prostituting themselves" -- it's understandable for DC to take this action.

That Archie Comics has decided to follow in its wake probably means nothing. The seal may be banished from the cover of Archie titles, but it will take more than recent exercises in window-dressing -- the inclusion of an openly gay student at Riverdale High, the interracial "romance" between Archie and Valerie -- to change the Archie Comics culture.

Posted by: drazen1 | January 23, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

A fascinating book, "The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America" by David Hajdu captures this sorry period in U.S. life.

Posted by: rmblade | January 23, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The imposition of the Comics Code must be the reason that America has been crime-free for the last 55 years. Since the comics readers who would otherwise have become juvenile delinquents were it not for the code are now preparing to collect Social Security, I suppose it is now probably safe to relax the standards.

Posted by: seismic-2 | January 23, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

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