||[Jan. 24th, 2011|04:27 pm]
Geoffrey D. Wessel
It's one of those happy coincidences: I forgot to mention in my big post the other day my happiness with the apparent dissolution of the Comics Code Authority. Now that both DC Comics and Archie Comics, the two biggest remaining adherants to the gigantic self-censorship scam that completely neutered the creative landscape of mainstream comics for decades, have decided to cast off the CCA's Scarlet Letter in favor of their own ratings-system, it seems next month the CCA itself will finally shut up shop, quietly, with little fanfare, and with is mysterious records up in the air. Does ANYONE know who these people, in fact, are? |
The history of the Code seems built more because of books that defied it rather than defined it. Born of Dr. Fredric Wertham's scaremongering, newsvendors were bullied into only carrying titles that had the seal of approval affixed to it. The plight of EC Comics' classic crime and horror titles is well-known, and indeed we also all know how MAD had to turn itself from a comic book to a magazine in order to survive.
But again, if it's more famous for anything, it's for the issues and titles that dropped the bloody seal. The "Harry Osborn is a pillhead" issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the "Sophisticated Suspense" era of Swamp Thing by Alan Moore... one could argue one of the reasons for the rise of the direct market, and independent comics, was to circumvent the entire thing. Hell, one of the biggest reactions I saw to the DC/Archie announcements was, "That thing's still around?" After Marvel dropped it in 2001, one could be forgiven for thinking it already had passed.
And good riddance to Wizard Magazine too. The magazine that was responsible for comics in the 90s, with all its speculative variant-gimmick hypiness. I had to laugh as one of the original Image founders (y'know, when the imprint just wasn't that good at ALL, despite what 18-year-old me thought) waxed nostalgic at how fun the magazine was back in the 90s... yeah, when they kissed your asses incessantly? I shouldn't wonder.
The Internet has largely taken the place of Wizard, and allegedly it's relaunching digitally as Wizard World, in order to maintain the branding that has now ruined the once-great Chicago Comic-Con with its "Pop Culture"ness and Rod Blagojevich. I told Gareb Shamus to his face in 1993 at Chicago how I thought his magazine was irresponsible and promoting a bad culture for the medium. He laughed. I was right.
I feel for anyone who's losing their jobs today from the magazine's folding, but then again, comics has numerous success stories from people who broke in, and got fired/laid off/quit Wizard, who went on to much bigger and better gigs. I'm sure, despite this economy, that can happen again.
Clean up, aisle 23, please.