Comic Book CENSORSHIP protects who?
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A variety of collateral things catch my interest as I continue my studies into GA Comics. One recent 'research-by-product issue' that is worthy of further focus is the 'CENSORSHIP' of comics. I am vaguely aware of self censorship of reprinted stories by publishers such as Quality Comics and Fiction House (in the early '50s), and find it extremely fascinating. I suppose the major force responsible for comic book censorship, from the mid 1950s and '60s, was the CCA (The Comics Code Authority). This was self-regulating independent body, established in Sept. 1954, to enforce a code of ethics and standards for the industry, to satisfy public concern over fantastic horror and crime comic-book content. We all know the result of the CCA, which was (IMO) more than a decade of lame product with art and writing to match, (until the Silver Age Superhero era began). While most of us realize the CCA products were now bruised and disabled, seeing before and after examples are impossible to envision, unless we are dealing with reprints of pre-code stories. And as I searched the back-posts here, I couldn't locate any threads invested to 'Comic Book Censorship'.

 

I would welcome anyone else here to contribute any other examples of comic book censorship (by any authority, whether inter-publication or by a third party such as the CCA) of any comic book genre from any era. What do you think Censors may have been thinking in rendering their decisions, and how did they think they were protecting society from their rulings?

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While researching a few post-code GA romance stories from True Bride's Experiences #16 (1956), published by Harvey, I noted that they were in-fact reprints of a stories which appeared originally in Teen-Age Brides #1 (1953). That is how this topic arose, as I compared the stories and art between the two. I've taken some time to illustrate several examples. Some censored efforts seemed minor, while some others were major over-hauls, a virtual dismantling of the original panels in question.

 

In chronological order, here are the first three examples I noticed.

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Cool graphics. Interesting stuff.

 

You might want to add to your research that the history of industry self-censorship of comics began in 1948 with the adoption of the ACMP Publisher's Code. It basically was the template for the CMAA's Comic Code Authoity started in 1954.

 

Of course, there are a lot of instances of publishers "self-censoring" or, more accurately stated, using their editorial perogative in response to public complaint. A notable example is Fawcett's discontinuance of the use of the racist character "Steamboat" in response to complaints by the NAACP. So not all "self-censorship" was bad.

 

One other point: You assert that "We all know the result of the CCA, which was (IMO) more than a decade of lame product with art and writing to match." I would not characterize the comics produced from 1954 to 1964 in that fashion. First, vast swaths of comic titles were largely unaffected by adoption of the CCA. You may not like Barks' Ducks, but many of us do. Second, while I won't dispute that the CCA had a profround negative effect on horror and crime comics, leading to the demise of many titles and even publishers (most notably EC), it also probably should be credited for helping to spur the re-birth of popularity for superhero comics (most notably Marvel).

Edited by sfcityduck

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Here is a link to a thread I posted a while back about Harvey comics self-cencoring the issue of Black Cat Mysteries #51 that might be of interest to you.

 

Black Cat Mysteries #51 Help!

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In chronological order, here are the first three examples I noticed.

 

Wow, talk about being observant!

 

I think if young women read about characters who "kiss," "thrill," and "tremble," they are in danger of succumbing to the evil temptations of masturbation. Then there's no turning back, and you have to lock them in the basement with chastity belts and put them on a strict regimen of shock therapy. Better to censor out those salacious, sinful words and images, don't you think?

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...A notable example is Fawcett's discontinuance of the use of the racist character "Steamboat" in response to complaints by the NAACP. So not all "self-censorship" was bad....One other point: You assert that "We all know the result of the CCA, which was (IMO) more than a decade of lame product with art and writing to match." I would not characterize the comics produced from 1954 to 1964 in that fashion. First, vast swaths of comic titles were largely unaffected by adoption of the CCA. You may not like Barks' Ducks, but many of us do.

 

Very insightful info! I definitely need to take into account self-censorship resulting from reader complaints to the publisher, and from pressure from advertisers (stemming from public pressure). When I said that 'more than a decade of lame product with art and writing to match', I meant in context of similar genres that had been so victimized by the censors such as Horror, Crime, GGA/Jungle, Romance and so on. A good example may be Atals' Lorna the Jungle Girl, precode had huge headlights, post-code seemed bland (especially when compared to Rulah), Fox's Phantom Lady vs Ajax's Phantom Lady, or post-code Charlton Horror titles etc. compared to pre-code EC, Story Comics, Key Publications horror tiles.

The results to the Crime and Horror genres from censorship is detrimental. You're right though, certain titles may not be adversely effected, like Disney's Ducks, and TV/Movie comics and others (which I have nothing against, and do appreciate on a different, sentimental scale).

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Here is a link to a thread I posted a while back about Harvey comics self-cencoring the issue of Black Cat Mysteries #51 that might be of interest to you.

 

Do you mean to say that the uncensored version of 'Punch & Rudy' only appears in a 1990s reprint? What if the original art had been lost to time, then we'd never know what was supposed to be in that blank panel. Black Cat Mystery #51/Punch & Rudy story is an astonishing account of censorship. I am stunned having read that thread, & confused about it too (seems to inspire more questions than it does answers as to the whats, whys, wheres and hows surrounding that story). Thanks Jayman

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Black Cat Mystery #51/Punch & Rudy story is an astonishing account of censorship. I am stunned having read that thread, & confused about it too (seems to inspire more questions than it does answers as to the whats, whys, wheres and hows surrounding that story). Thanks Jayman

 

Except, it's not an example of "censorship," but of an editorial choice. That issue was never submitted to an industry watchdog as it pre-dated the CCA and post-dated the earlier (weak) regime. The publisher may have been motivated to delete that panel because of the public scrutiny the comic industry was under, or maybe it was an independent editorial decision. We'll never know.

 

 

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Great info. The changes in the text story are pretty subtle.

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Do you mean to say that the uncensored version of 'Punch & Rudy' only appears in a 1990s reprint?

 

I would have to say yes unless it exists in an earlier reprinted form. I've looked and asked around and have found no original copy to contain the uncencored art.

There is now a footnote in the OSPG for BCM #51 (noting the self-cencored panel by the publisher) due to my contacting them and linking them to that thread.

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I think if young women read about characters who "kiss," "thrill," and "tremble," they are in danger of succumbing to the evil temptations of masturbation. Then there's no turning back, and you have to lock them in the basement with chastity belts and put them on a strict regimen of shock therapy. Better to censor out those salacious, sinful words and images, don't you think?

 

Not just the threat of nuclear masturbation, they'd probably all-but-soon forget to brush their teeth, then try puffing on a cigarette, become Communists and worst of all, listening to that noisy rock'n'roll music too. As a civilized society we can't tolerate that. Before locking them up in chastity belts, I'd have to spank all the pretty girls over 18 yrs. old, (for their own good of course), and then send them to Church for some reconditioning. Thank goodness for censorship, it keeps our country clean. Comic books corrupt, indeed.

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I've updated this busy image to include the censored words 'Searing' and ensuring that the fairer sex does not close their eyes while pretending. I've got a few more samples to post later.

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Another two from the story 'The Other Woman'

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I've updated this busy image to include the censored words 'Searing' and ensuring that the fairer sex does not close their eyes while pretending. I've got a few more samples to post later.

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I think you miss the most important edited dialogue: The substitution of the word "desires" with "hopes."

 

I also think the deletion of "I shut my eyes" can be explained not as censorship of an offending phrase, but of making the story conform to the new picture. I'd say that change is incidental to the wholesale re-drawing of the panel.

Edited by sfcityduck

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