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Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code (Studies in Popular Culture (Paperback)) Paperback – February 1, 1998
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't believe those one and two-star reviews!
Nyberg's SEAL OF APPROVAL is a responsible, deeply researched, well-documented scholarly history of the Comics Code. Read more
First off, I'll explain that I find the opinions put forth horrifying. I am always concerned when someone argues that the job of protecting children falls on the hands of anyone... Read morePublished on August 19, 2005 by Michael A. Mccann
The Comics Code is a joke. The publishers ignored it or tried to find loopholes in the guidelines, and today the dumb seal does not even appear on the books anymore.Published on February 8, 2005 by D.W. Smith