Does DC have intentions of dropping the Comics Code in a near future?
In your opinion, should they follow Marvel’s recent, historic decision on this matter? (Wouldn’t it be a nice ‘coup de grace’ for the Code? I mean, besides Archie, DC is the only major publisher still faithful to the shameful censor-stamp, right? If DC quits, the Code’s virtually dead, isn’t it?)
By the way, in your long career as writer, have you ever suffered any serious, worth-mentioning hitch with the Comics Code Authority? Have you got any
true anecdotes that can show us once again the stupidity and outrage of this utterly unnecessary seal of censorship?
P.S.: Yeah, these questions may be a little biased, but censorship really ticks me off. Support the CBLDF!!!
— The Catch Question Man (fakeadress@fakehost.com)

The Comics Code Authority was set up in the 1950s by comics publishers as a way to establish self-censorship and save themselves from being tarred with the same brush that was being used on William M. Gaines’ EC titles and the schlocky imitations that were filled with lurid violence and scantily-clad women. They intended it as a symbol to concerned parents that the comics their kids were reading were “wholesome.” Similar strict measures were being enforced on movies and television programming.
Twenty years later, those restrictions had relaxed substantially in movies and TV, but comics were still being monitored by rules of the McCarthy-crazed 50s. That AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #S 96-98 were published without the Code symbol because they dealt with the problems of drug abuse showed just how antiquated the thing had become, but far more ludicrous were the rules against using words like “Horror” or “Terror” or using zombies in a story.
By the 80s and 90s, the Code symbol meant nothing. Parents had no idea what it stood for; most of the readers had no idea either. Within the industry, plenty of creative folks took review by the Code as a challenge to sneak things into the books. Further, publishers had plenty of books which did not carry the Code, shelved side-by-side in comics shops with titles that did. And contradictions in what was perceived to be acceptable abounded; if Green Arrow appears in a Superman book – which IS Code approved – shouldn’t you expect that GA’s own book is also approved? Not necessarily!
I think the value of the Code to any publisher has long since passed. Yet DC President and Publisher Paul Levitz remains a staunch supporter of it. As do the people at Archie Comics. So, as long as they run their respective companies, I expect that there will be a Comics Code.

During the years when I was in charge of Production at DC, I saw a number of things get by the Code people that I expected them to balk at. As a writer, I probably pushed the boundaries a few times, but mostly with language that left little doubt for the reader as to what the characters were REALLY saying. [“What the fudge–?” and “I’ll beat the spit out of you.” are two prime examples.] However, much of what I wrote followed the premise of “Would I want MY kids reading this?” and so I tended to stay within the lines.

Regarding your P.S.: Supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is an admirable idea; I hope most if not all of my readers agree. But I find it a bit amusing that you are railing about censorship and then so obviously hide your name and email address. Afraid to stand up for what you belive?


BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ:
1. The fathers of Popeye and Li’l Abner are both known by what name?
2. Hop Harrigan made his debut in the first issue of what comic?
3. Image character who appeared in a mid-90’s series subtitled STRIKEFILE.
4. Name the team that Toro and Bucky were the leaders of.
5. Gunner and Sarge fought World War II in what book?
6. There was a different lead character in the first 8 issues of the magazine that became BLACKHAWK; who was he?
7. Of all the Justice League members, which one was an android?
8. DC’s long-running, shorts-wearing member of the Planeteers; who is he?
9. One for each decade, who stars in the “Americana Series”?
10. Name the Warrior Princess who had her own Topps magazine.
11. On which Earth did the Freedom Fighters originate?
12. What does the “S” in “S.H.I..E.L.D.” stand for?

BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL
1. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of
chess is 318,979,564,000.
2. Upper and lower case letters are named ‘upper’ and ‘lower,’ because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the ‘upper case’ letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, ‘lower case’ letters.
3. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.


FEEDBACK FROM THE EMAILBOX:
Since people are inquiring about the longest word in the English dictionary:
The longest word in Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary is: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

It’s a lung disease, caused by the inhalation of microscopic dust particles.
See http://biology.about.com/library/weekly/aa052297.htm and
http://www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0593289.html

But also see http://www.dictionary.com/doctor/faq/l/longestword.html
Apparently the OED isn’t too big on the word. But hey, it’s legitimately in
Webster’s.
— David Carter (superman@umich.edu)

You learn something new every day! Thanks, David.

*****
To Bob Rozakis and Len Wein:
Thanks for the answer on the Swamp Thing series. Sorry if you’re tired of talking about it, but somehow I missed the answer before. I agree 100% with not printing it without Len & Bernie. Wouldn’t be the same.
— Billy Cox

*****
I don’t know if you remember my name or not — from letterhacking, and as a sometime work-partner of Duffy Vohland and Paul Kupperberg —
but I noticed your comments on LEGION.
I was no big fan of LEGION LOST either, but an amazing thing has happened in the current series: while there’s still a lot of darkness to it, it’s re-emerged into the DC Universe and into some coherency. And Coipel’s art has gotten interesting and clean! I urge you to take another look.
— Roger B.A. Klorese (rogerk@queernet.org)

Thanks for the recommendation, Roger. I’ll give the book another look.

*****
I didn’t know FANTASTIC FOUR: THE FANTASTIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD, but what about X-FORCE #3, where a terrorist attack destroys one of the Twin Towers exactly ten years before last September? Just another coincidence; don’t squeeze your brains out, pals!
— Joe (joeman995@hobbynet.com)

*****
Surprised that you forgot to mention that the Man of The Moment – Marvel (oops, sorry) Miracleman, when reborn in ‘Warrior’ twenty years ago was drawn by the splendid Garry Leach – who based his interpretation on Paul Newman.

By the way, your column remains endlessly fascinating. Please keep up the good work.

Oh – and it’s about time someone brought back ‘ Mazing Man – I miss the little guy
–Dave Moran (David.Moran@smtp5.fife.gov.uk)

George Perez once stated that he used a young Mickey Rooney as the model for his version of Changeling in the New Teen Titans. Obviously artists since The Maestro weren’t aware of this…
–Jen in Oz (jenerators@optushome.com.au)


AND MORE FROM THE EMAILBOX:
I’m assuming this is a joke and not a trivia question: If Superman’s son married Batman what would the children be?
Amy (abclair@earthlink.net)

Nonexistent! They’re both men! (I guess “Adopted” would be an equally appropriate answer.)

*****
I once read in your column and an issue of BATMAN FAMILY that Bruce Wayne’s birthday was February 19. Since this is also my date of birth, I am naturally interested to know how this date was chosen.
— Matt Adams (matt_j_adams@hotmail.com)

Virtually all the birthdays in the DC Universe come from the 1976 Super DC Calendar published by Warner Books in – you guessed it – 1976. The info contained therein was made up by former DC editor E. Nelson Bridwell. A few of the dates may have actually been used in old stories, but it was pretty much a “Fill up the dates of the year, Nelson!” type of job and he did so admirably.

*****
Who owns the rights to Brothers of the Spear, the old backup feature in the Dell Tarzans?
— Al Bradford (skrakb@tmlp.com)

Presumably it is Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. which holds the copyright on Tarzan. In addition to their back-up feature, BROTHERS OF THE SPEAR also had eighteen issues of their own title.

*****
Hey, Answer Man! A longtime comic fan here. I have a simple question. What is the best trade paperback/ graphic novel / collection you would recommend for reading? I am more interested in reading paperbacks as they offer a cheaper alternative than buying comic books monthly. Perhaps you could post a top 10 graphic novel list?
Oliver (islandboy1982@yahoo.com)

WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is, far and away, my number one choice.
Beyond that, I’d add THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and RONIN, both by Frank Miller, MARVELS by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid and Ross, CAMELOT 3000 by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, THE GOLDEN AGE by James Robinson, Paul Smith and Richard Ory, and BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN by Jeph Loeb and Time Sale. And to put some collections in the mix, any two of the following FLASH ARCHIVES (Volume 1 or 2), GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES (1 or 2), GREATEST SUPERMAN STORIES EVER TOLD, and GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD.


TRIVIA ANSWERS:
The first letter of the questions combines with the first letter of the answers for a timely message, at least here in the U.S.
1. Pappy
2. ALL-AMERICAN COMICS
3. Youngblood
4. Young Allies
5. OUR FIGHTING FORCES
6. Uncle Sam
7. Red Tornado
8. Tommy Tomorrow
9. Archie
10. Xena
11. Earth-X
12. Strategic

There’s plenty of deduction, especially when the questions are taxing, at my daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.wfcomics.com/trivia. File on over there and pay a visit – no exemptions!

 


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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


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