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Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code (Studies in Popular Culture) Paperback – February 1, 1998


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Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code (Studies in Popular Culture) + The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087805975X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878059751
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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A study that explores the history of comic book censorship

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David K. Taggart on August 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This insightful and well-researched work carefully places the Comices Code Authority with in the context of American culture. Rather than taking the traditional view, that the code came a a result of the repressive attitudes of the 1950s and was the downfall of the industry, Amy Kiste Nyborg convincingly shows the Code to be a pioneering effort in industry self-regulation in response to public pressure -- a logical forerunner of motion picture ratings, recoard warning labels, TV advisories, and the V-chip. Parental and community outcry against commic books in the 1940s and 1950s virtually mirrors the "protect our kids from the Internet" efforts of 1998. The unexamined role of economic factors such as industry distribution patterns on the Code is examined here for the first time. The Comics code is shown to have made fundamental changes in how the comics industry has operated over time, and in SEAL OF APPROVAL, Amy Kiste Nyborg demonstrates that it is still very relevant today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Don McGowan on May 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Seal of Approval" was recommended along with David Hadju's "Ten-Cent Plague". I have read them both. To my mind this one is better, but I may be approaching this from a different perspective than most. I work in an industry that is currently confronted with many of the issues that the comics industry confronted in the 1950s - the video game business - and so I'm looking specifically for something that will be instructive and not just descriptive.

Unlike Hadju's book, "Seal of Approval" is written by an academic (Nyberg is a professor at Seton Hall) and it shows. It's a very balanced historical overview coupled with an analysis of the Code and its various iterations over time. It speaks to the cultural context to the original Code but also to the way the companies governed by the Code adapted themselves over time, as well as the fact that not all publishers were governed by the Code and yet some managed to stay in business (Dell being the most significant). It's very well-researched (15 pages of bibliography) and it's definitely worth picking up.

The strongest part of this book is the way that it puts the crusaders in their social, cultural, and professional context. Fredric Wertham, who seems to have been the Jack Thompson or Carrie Nation of this issue, is often caricatured as... well... just like Jack Thompson or Carrie Nation. In Nyberg's presentation we learn that Wertham was a social scientist of some note before he got to this issue.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on December 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Seal of Approval (The History of the Comics Code), Amy Kiste Nyberg takes the reader through a narrowly focused but essential part of the history of comic books and, therefore, part of the greater history of popular culture in general. Much of the basic story will be familiar from other histories of comic books but this author provides new insights into the foundation for the movement to censor comic books as well as providing a run down of the evolution of the comics code after the mid-fifites Senate hearings, an evolution very rarely discussed. The author also makes valuable use of sources little used by other authors such as the minutes of the Comics Magazine Association of America. All in all, a nice piece of research and a valuable contribution to the history of pop culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Maybe because it's about such a supposedly trivial thing, this is a very important book.

Ostensibly the story of a crusade against inappropriate material in comic books, this book hints at the deeper story of America's periodic fascination with censorship.

In a thoroughgoing fashion Professor Nyberg (of Communications) tells the story how comic books came to the main entertainment source for children through the end of the depression and until television in the early 1950s came to replace them.

In that brief window that existed between his election to the Senate (in 1948 from Tennessee) and the rise of television as a maintstay of children's entertainment, Estes Kefauver -- the once and future presidential candidate -- set up very public hearings to essentially scare the comic book industry into "cleaning up its act" and eliminating supposedly inappropriate material.

If this scenero sounds familiar, then the reason is because similar public outcries attended the first newspaper comics, early cinema and then later the talkies themselves (in that last particular resulting in the creation of the Hayes Code which was actually the model for the code eventually approved by the comic book industry).

Along the way, William Gaines (later of Mad Magazine) stood alone in the wilderness crying against censorship. His humble point was that cutting edge stories could still serve greater artistic and cultural purposes. One such story was called "The Whipping." In it, a white father was dead set against his daughter's involvement with a young hispanic man whose family had moved into the community.
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