Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Till Death Do Us Part" and the Code

As long as I mentioned "Till Death Do Us Part" from Journey into Mystery 15 (Apr/54—pre-Code) and its reprinting in Vault of Evil 4 (Aug/73—under the Comics Code), I wanted to show the art changes demanded by the Code Authority.

JIM 15 captions: 'I'd shot her and hacked her skull with an axe...I slammed into her with my car...I set the dogs on her to rip her to pieces...' Vault 4: 'I'd killed her in many ways...and those methods became more I became more desperate...'

There were none.

That is, there were no art changes—but there were changes. Once the captions on this one tier no longer actually described the art, the Code Authority approved.

Personally, I think the new coloring in the car panel is more emphatic about the violence than the original coloring.

The Comics Code must have been pretty tedious to work under—because it wasn't actually codified. There was a list of prohibitions, but the kicker at the end of the list pretty much read, "Oh, and whatever we at the Code feel doesn't measure up to the spirit of the Code." If you wrote or drew or edited with the list of bullet points tacked up over your desk, you still had no idea if your work would get to the printers without arbitrary alterations.

Certainly there was some dreck before the Code, and some really awful dreck outside it and after it. But how many of Dr. Wertham's preteen serial killers did this relettering save us from?

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