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DC Comics superheroes characters including Superman and Batman
Comics are an international language, they can cross boundaries and generations. Comics are a bridge between all cultures. ~ Osamu Tezuka

Comics is a form of visual art consisting of images which are commonly combined with text, often in the form of speech balloons or image captions. Originally used to illustrate caricatures and to entertain through the use of amusing and trivial stories, it has by now evolved into a literary medium with many subgenres.




  • Sad list, isn't it? Further proof of what I have always said: too many (male) writers seem able to think of only two things to do with female characters -- rape 'em or knock 'em up. The dead ones might be the lucky ones. At least I made Wonder Woman MORE powerful.


  • ...all our theories about how comics are put together are invariably about time. The duration of a panel's action and the duration between one panel and the next. We haven't added very much to the Eisner-Steranko concept of "sequential art."
  • ...if the form is to say something important, rather than just involve itself in the kinetic thrill of drawn characters chasing each other, then we have to think harder.
  • I don't think that we should seek to define comics on a formal basis. I think that some of the best comics do not involve "sequential images" which is the basis of every formal definition of comics.
  • ...the concept of what comics is gets narrower as we go along. Each writer on the subject who defines comics wants to exclude something. McCloud excludes the single panel so Family Circus and Far Side are out. Blackbeard says there must be word balloons so Prince Valiant is out. Harvey says there has to be a visual-verbal balance. Somebody else says there must be no redundancy of information with words and pictures repeating each other. This is crap. Pictures have illustrated words and words have explained pictures since the beginning of time. Somebody reads a dull comic and extrapolates rules from it. Who do they think they are? There are all these people trying to be the rule-makers and the end result is bad for the art of Comics.
  • The form restricts itself at every turn. For instance, the artist sits before his blank page. If his first picture is a big square one all the way across then he has severely limited his second panel to having to fit in the letterbox space along the bottom. If he divides that in two then that third panel is looking like a sad and defeated cornered animal. That's about all i see when I look at comic books now. Obviously the artist doesn't do it that way; he plans the whole page simultaneously. But it tends to read like he planned it that way, and that's all that counts.
  • The syllogism that says "Comics are sequential art, Trajan's column is sequential art, therefore Trajan's column is comics" is such a glaring fallacy that I'm surprised it's gotten this far.
  • ...the whole small press movement...[is] the first real upheaval in this country of Comics as a genuine Art - Art being to me a thing which is a lively part of life while commenting on life - as opposed to comics as journalism-cartooning or comics as a collecting-hobby or comics as boys power fantasies.
    • Eddie Campbell Arkensword 17-18, 1986
  • [t]he standards of comics include inventiveness, originality, and consistency. The best comics really are great artworks — great by the intrinsic standards of that art form.
    • David Carrier The Aesthetics of Comics p. 95
  • Her husband had been willing to indulge her affection for the comics so long as it was just her, but now their children were growing up and starting to read and he was not convinced that people having adventures in skintight costumes were altogether appropriate. His feeling was that his wife would have to stop reading it, and she was heartbroken because she had an equally strong commitment to the fictional characters she had been enjoying all these years. When you come face to face with that kind of circumstance, it has to be treated with respect. It's like singing on stage and realizing you had an impact on your audience, and using that as an excuse to do your craft better than before.


  • You can go into slow motion or fast motion in a comic book in a way you can't in a movie without drawing attention to it. You can have six panels in a row where the actions are a half second apart, or you can skip years between panels and it just doesn't have the same egregious quality, where, in a movie, Peckinpah slows down the murder and it seems that the body collapse in slow motion; it seems like an entirely different thing when you do that on film and when you do that on the comics page.
  • The viewer is a 'co-producer" of the comics text at a level of involvement and intensity just through the nature of the medium itself.
  • a visual medium, a comics format … the writer works for the artist, in the same that the writer in a movie works for the director.
  • In movies, television, and comics, the operative factor is what some film semiologists have taken to calling 'the gaze.' The gaze is a combination of the gaze of the viewer at the comics page, or television tube, or film screen, modulated and directed by the looks that the characters give to each other and by various objects. I look at character X who looks at situation Y (and character X) in a way that I wouldn't have before. The point, of course, is that the movie gaze, the TV gaze, and the comics gaze are three very different processes. What makes the comic book gaze the priveleged one in my estimation is that the viewer has the greatest control over the comic book gaze, greater than any of the other two. Viewers can control how far way or close to hold the page, whether to go backwards and re-gaze -- and going back in a comic book is a very different process from going back in a novel to re-read a previous paragraph or chapter.
  • You know, I distrust people who 'read' comics … you don't read a comic book. You look at a comic book. While you're looking at a comic, sure, you read the words; as well, you learn to look at the panels in a certain order, in a certain way … if you start out to 'read' a comic book, you're starting out with the wrong mind-set.


  • Both companies could be more judicious in pairing artists and writers for sustained periods, promoting series outside of the usual channels, and warmly engaging with fans. Instead of simply telling people to buy their books, they could instruct new audiences how. And they could listen to what new audiences say they want: diversity not just in racial, religious, or sexual terms, but also in terms of the types of stories told: Is there really any more harm in publishing a comic where Captain America has a romantic cup of coffee with his boyfriend Bucky than one where he’s a Nazi?


  • What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not ... We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against.
The (Communist) "Daily Worker" of July 13, 1953 said that comics play the conscious role of:
"...Brutalizing American youth, the better to prepare them for military service in implementing our government's aims of world domination, and to accept the atrocities now being perpetrated by American soldiers and airmen in Korea under the flag of the United Nations."
This article also quotes Gershon Legman (who claims to be a ghost writer for Dr. Fredrick Wertham, the author of a recent bast against comics published in "The Ladies Home Journal"). This same G. Legman, in issue #3 of "Neurotica," published in autumn 1948, said: "The child's natural character...must be distorted to fit civilization . . . fantasy violence will paralyze his resistance, divert his aggression to unreal enemies and frustrations, and in this way prevent him from rebelling against parents and teachers . . . this will siphon off his resistance against society, and prevent revolution." ~ William Gaines
  • WE BELIEVE: Your editors sincerely believe that the claim of these crusaders . . . that comics are bad for nonsense. If we, in the slightest way, thought that horror comics, crime comics, or any other kind of comics were harmful to our readers, we would cease publishing them and direct our efforts toward something else!
    And we're not alone in our belief. For example: Dr. David Abrahamsen, eminent criminologist, in his book, "Who Are The Guilty?" says, "Comic books do not lead to crime, although they have been widely blamed for it . . . In my experience as a psychiatrist, I cannot remember having seen one boy or girl who has committed a crime, or who became neurotic or psychotic . . . because he or she read comic books." A group led by Dr. Freda Kehm, Mental Health Chairman of the Ill. Congress of the P.T.A., decided that living room violence has "a decided beneficial effect on young minds." Dr. Robert H. Feli, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said that horror comic do not originate criminal behavior in children . . . in a way, the horror comics may do some good . . . children use fantasy, as simulated by the "comics" as a means of working out natural feelings of aggressiveness.
    We also believe that a large portion of our total readership of horror and crime comics is made up of adults. We believe that those who oppose comics are a small minority. Yet this minority is causing the hysteria. The voice of the majority . . . you who but comics, read them, enjoy them, and are not harmed by them . . . has not been heard!
  • Something in his mind had snapped and he began collecting comics.
    • Mel Gilden, The Pumpkins of Time (1994), p. 4
  • ...'comic' simply means funny, so the word is inadequate. To tack on the word 'adult' has resulted in a style of magazine suitable for only some adults, glossy comics barely containing their airbrushed breasts, leaving little room for genuine content.
    • Paul Gravett Escape Magazine 1
  • ...the history of comics is mostly just a history of crap.


  • I reserve the right to refuse to like a comic just because there is a girl/woman in it, or someone's decided to take a limp stab at marketing it to girls/women. (...) Push past those posters of giant titties and that one of the impossible pose where some gal is displaying her butt, crotch AND breasts, and that one where the girl looks like she's been oiled up and spanked. Push past all that, my sisters! (...) There, my sisters, under all those eye lemons and tree-killers are comics you will like. Don't hold it against your retailer if he or she is keeping the store going with chromium multi-variant oops-my-tittie-fell-out 1-to-4 short-packed speculator specials — get in there and grab that Previews and you will find something for you, and by God order it and get all your girlfriends to do the same and your store will still be in business after the superhero readers turn 18 and start reading the Mangerotica books and the speculators have left to sell their Beanie Babies to pay the rent! (...) Of course, always give your business to the store that makes it easy to get what you want, and doesn't offended your eyeballs with faux-core (as opposed to soft core) porn. Thank you.


  • Justin Wadlow, a professor at the French Université de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV) in Amiens and a well-known scholar of comics, explained how books combining texts and comics as a new form of art have been used to spread deep ideas and raise awareness of social issues. He suggested that the essence of [the] Tai Ji Men culture may also be illustrated and presented to the world through these new media.
  • The episodic nature of Black Jack’s medical experiments backed up by accurate medical detail, bear more resemblance to television shows such as ER or House MD than to any North American comic book; medical narratives such as these simply do not exist in the US or Canadian comic media.


  • By mid-1942 nearly all comic book heroes had changed into patriotic citizens that were accept their new societal roles.
    • Jeffrey K. Johnson, SuperHistory: Comic Book Heroes and American Society. Jefferson, NC; as quoted by Donna B. Knaff, "A Most Thrilling Struggle Wonder Woman as Wartime and Post-War Feminist" in The Ages of Wonder Woman: Essays on the Amazon Princess in Changing Times, edited by Joseph J Darowski, p.24.


  • As regards the female characters thing, I'm afraid I think it's giving male creators a bum deal. The list does read pretty shocking at first until you think of everything the male heroes have gone through, too, in terms of deaths/mutilations/etc. Granted, the female stuff has more of a sexual violence theme and this is something people should probably watch out for, but rape is a rare thing in comics and is seldom done in an exploitative way.
  • Boys young and old satisfy their wish thoughts by reading comics. If they go crazy for Wonder Woman it means they're longing for a beautiful exciting girl who's stronger than they are.
    • William Moulton Marston as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Our Women Are Our Future" Family Circle, August 14th, 1942.
  • Comics speak, without qualm or sophistication, to the innermost ears of the wishful self. The response is like that of a thirsty traveler who suddenly finds water in the desert - he drinks to satiation.
    • William Moulton Marston The American Scholar Winter 1943/4 issue, pp.35-44
  • There are one or two rules of thumb which are useful in distinguishing sadism from exciting adventure in the comics. Threat of torture is harmless, but when the torture it’s self is shown it becomes sadism. When a lovely heroine is show bound to the stake, comics followers are sure that the rescue will arrive just in the nick of time. The readers wish is to see save the girl, not to see her suffer. A bound or chained person does not suffer even embarrassment in the comics, and the reader, therefore is not being taught to enjoy suffering.
    • William Moulton Marston, as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Don't laugh at the comics" Family Circle, Oct 25, 1940.
  • Oh yes, but not until women control men. Wonder Woman – and the trend toward male acceptance of female love power, which she represents, indicates that the first psychological step has actually been taken. Boys, young and old, satisfy their wish thoughts by reading comics. If they go crazy over Wonder Woman, it means they’re longing for a beautiful, exciting girl who is stronger than they are. These simple, highly imaginative picture stories satisfy longings that ordinary daily life thwarts and denies. Superman and the army of male comics characters who resemble him satisfy the simple desire to be stronger and more powerful than anybody else. Wonder Woman satisfies the subconscious, elaboratedly disguised desire of males to be mastered by a woman who loves them.
  • If you do [one] black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character. They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people.
  • To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.
  • Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety.
  • I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen. I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men.
I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s. ~ Alan Moore
  • I stopped reading the comics page a long time ago. It seems that whoever is in charge of what to put on that page is given an edict that states: “For God’s sake, try to be as bland as possible and by no means offend any one!” Thus, whenever something like Doonesbury would come along, it would be continually censored and, if lucky, eventually banished to the editorial pages. The message was clear: Keep it simple, keep it cute, and don’t be challenging, outrageous or political.
    And keep it white!
    It’s odd that considering all the black ink that goes into making the comics section (and color on Sundays) that you rarely see any black faces on that page. Well, maybe it’s not so odd after all, considering the makeup of most newsrooms in our country. It is even more stunning when you consider that in many of our large cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago where the white population is barely a third of the overall citizenry, the comics pages seem to be one of the last vestiges of the belief that white faces are just…well, you know…so much more happy and friendly and funny!
    Of course, the real funnies are on the front pages of most papers these days.
  • The British novel has become so thin-blooded and out of touch with anything. And television drama's been pretty much emasculated. Comics is one place where no one's looking. And you get this work out, which would once have been some bizarre film by Lindsay Anderson, but now there'd be no possible way of getting that funded. Comics' marginalisation allows you to do a lot that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise.
    • Grant Morrison The Comics Journal 176 p. 82 (1995)
  • As for all this talk I keep hearing about how 'ordinary people' can't handle the weird layouts in comics - well, time for another micro-rant, but that's like your granddad saying he can't handle all the scary, fast-moving information on Top of the Pops and there's really only one answer. Fuck off, granddad. If you're too stupid to read a comic page, you shouldn't be trying to read comic books and probably don't.
  • The comics medium is a very specialized area of the Arts, home to many rare and talented blooms and flowering imaginations and it breaks my heart to see so many of our best and brightest bowing down to the same market pressures which drive lowest-common-denominator blockbuster movies and television cop shows. Let's see if we can call time on this trend by demanding and creating big, wild comics which stretch our imaginations. Let's make living breathing, sprawling adventures filled with mind-blowing images of things unseen on Earth. Let's make artefacts that are not faux-games or movies but something other, something so rare and strange it might as well be a window into another universe because that's what it is.
  • All the comics are sigils. "Sigil" as a word is out of date. All this magic stuff needs new terminology because it's not what people are being told it is at all. It's not all this wearying symbolic misdirection that's being dragged up from the Victorian Age, when no-one was allowed to talk plainly and everything was in coy poetic code. The world's at a crisis point and it's time to stop bullshitting around with Qabalah and Thelema and Chaos and Information and all the rest of the metaphoric smoke and mirrors designed to make the rubes think magicians are "special" people with special powers. It's not like that. Everyone does magic all the time in different ways. "Life" plus "significance" = magic.


  • Before being able to comment on the tragedies which have befallen only female comic characters as any kind of a trend, I would need to see a similar list of the kinds of tragedies which have befallen MALE characters in direct proportion to the number of female characters vs. male which exist throughout the entire industry. (...) As a writer with at least over 500 story credits (I stopped counting. Math isn't my strong suit), I will say that professionally speaking, I believe in treating ALL my characters, male, female, black, white or Kryptonian with equal measure respect and abuse. Basically, you have to respect them enough to abuse them in order to see how they will handle the adversity. Remember, monthly comics publishing is akin to a soap opera with more punches thrown. Characters HAVE to be made to endure both physical and emotional adversity in order for the lifeblood of the genre -- i.e. MONTHLY serial stories -- to work. When you've done more work on the subject, I'd be glad to discuss your results.


Comics are an international language, they can cross boundaries and generations. Comics are a bridge between all cultures. ~ Osamu Tezuka
  • The children face problems such as violence, abuse, suicide etc. that medicine can not heal. It will never help these children psychologically and be his support ...? Even when they are in difficulty, in principle they do not speak with adults, or confide about their true intentions. However, expect some serious messages from adults. I will continue to send messages through manga. Children avoid them what force or what they want to impose anything. That is why I will continue to look for those things that [...] inspire their hearts.
    • Osamu Tezuka from the intervention to the fifteenth national conference on school health and safety in schools, 1987; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 2, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 79. ISBN 8888063072
  • The new readers have mentality, fashions, feelings completely different from those of previous readers. Should I draw comics following my first readers in their growth? Or should I stop doing the cartoonist? ... More or less every three years a cartoonist for children is cornered. I, too, every three years, living a crisis. So I decide and I get back to work for my new readers as if they were the first. ... This is why I am certain that the good work that will draw able to make happy readers of all time.
    • Osamu Tezuka from My Diary manga , 1966; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 3, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 26. ISBN 8888063102
  • The science fiction and manga readers had the same ... Most fiction writers then had had some experience in the comic and some of it had even been absorbed completely ... I can not understand why those who love science fiction also loves the manga and vice versa. There are two kinds characterized by a biting satire and at worst are called "extravagant". ... Both are aimed toward the future, and therefore contain romantic adventures for young people.
    • Osamu Tezuka, Since I cartoonist; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 3, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 73. ISBN 8888063102
I am convinced that comics should not only make people laugh. For this in my stories found tears, anger, hatred, pain and end not always happy.~ Osamu Tezuka
  • I am convinced that comics should not only make people laugh. For this in my stories found tears, anger, hatred, pain and end not always happy.
    • Osamu Tezuka quoted in Helen McCarthy, Osamu Tezuka: God of manga , translated by Fabio Deotto, Edizioni BD, 2010, back cover.
  • As for some characters being dead and then alive again -- that happens to both genders in comics. Look at Wonder Man. The thing that, to my mind, separates the male and female characters are the sex crimes. Only the female characters are victims of sex crimes; male characters are never subjected to that. (There may be one or two exceptions when the male character was sexually abused as a child, but that's about it.) It is the number and frequency of THAT which troubles me. (...) A female soldier in battle may suffer wounds; that's different than a woman being stalked, kidnapped, and having violence done to her in civilian life. The former incurs the physical damage because of her occupation; the latter, strictly because of her gender. A female cop may be shot because she is a cop, not because she is a female. That, to me, is part of the difference.
  • Of course, to work alone is both harder and easier. There's nothing fabulous about drawing comic books. When you finish, you're relieved and happy, but it's the middle of the night and there is no one to share your joy with. With filmmaking you have a party with your crew and then the premiere. All that stuff you miss when you just draw manga. But there are drawbacks to filmmaking too: sometimes it's really difficult to get your ideas across to your crew.


  • After World War II readership dwindles for popular superhero titles, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Spirit, and many comics turn to gory, true-life stories, or tales of horror and the supernatural. E.C. Comics' Vault of Horror, Crypt of Terror, and Haunt of Fear cram their pages with severed heads, drug use, and graphic violence. Some of the most popular of these extreme stories come from the pen of comic artist Jack Cole.
    Throughout the decade, attacks against the violent comics mount. Citizens' groups and religious organizations pressure publishers and news dealers to drop the most offensive lines. Newspaper editorial pages and national magazines debate the influence of comics on the young.
    In 1954 the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency holds hearings on whether comic books inspire juvenile delinquency. A lead witness, psychologist Dr. Frederick Wertham, testifies that comics "create a mental readiness for temptation" and create "an atmosphere of deceit and cruelty" for children. He even attacks Superman for "arousing fantasies of sadistic joy in seeing others punished while you yourself remain immune." E.C. Comics publisher
    William Gaines speaks in the comics defense, emphasizing his stories' endings, in which the criminals always pay for their crimes. "Good taste" is his only criterion. Senator Estes Kefauver asks if an E.C. Comics' cover displaying a woman's severed head and a bloody axe is Gaines' idea of good taste. Backed into a corner, Gaines boldly answers 'yes.' The exchange makes the front page of the next day's New York Times.
  • PBS, “The Comic Book Code”, Culture Shock: Flashpoints.
  • It's a pretty scary list, scary mostly for what it says about (male) comics creators. What I think about this is the guys have good intentions, to use more female characters, and they try consciously to make them strong and positive role models and all that good stuff, but unconsciously it's very hard for many men to see women as something other than victims. (...) And where it comes from in many men is that men are real and women are vehicles for men's needs. One of those needs is to feel strong emotions such as grief, anger, pain, maturity. There are any number of movies and books in which a weak man becomes a hero, or faces up to life, because a woman has been raped or murdered or has committed suicide. Did the writer realize he was (once more) victimizing women? (...) I just checked out the web site after all, to see the reactions of (some of) the other creators. It was interesting to see how many of the men felt called on to defend (or apologize for) their own murdered female characters. You know, I assume, of the point made by people like Trina Robbins that the powers of female characters in the '60s showed a good deal about the male creators-- a "girl" who turns invisible, another who makes herself tiny and buzzes around men annoyingly (when she's not shopping)...


  • I think it's sad and terrible. I think that too many creators got on the "Bad Girl" bandwagon and did nothing but pander and exploit their own creations. To be honest, many creators that I've talked to solely created those characters to be exploited and exploitative. Now mind you I don't see this as a gender thing as much as I see it as a genre thing. Everybody is out for the quick buck and too many are too lazy to try to come up with something original. I know it's scary but if tomorrow's hot comics are about one-legged Mongolian dwarfs, than you can be sure that more than one respected creator will be jumping all over the concept but will claim to be giving it "their spin." (...) The worst news is that it's a million times worse in other parts of the entertainment field, mainly because there is more money involved and fewer morals.
    • Joe Quesada, (editor in chief of Marvel Comics, co-creator of Ultimate Marvel)[1]


  • Female comic book characters are often treated as secondary to the main male character whom they assist in their current endeavour. They are often transformed into the Other, objects acted upon by the male character for his own ends through sub-par plot writing, as evidenced by such tropes as the ‘damsel-in-distress’. There have been a few characters treated as active subjects capable of continued growth. X-Men featured both Kitty Pryde and Jubilee as young female characters with complex emotions and desires. Kitty’s desire to be treated as an adult is blatantly expressive of Levinas’ concept of recognition. Their costumes, while occasionally sexualized, are overall more expected with elements that can be loose fitting and functional over showing off their sexuality. The interesting problem is that both of these characters are very young; teenagers in fact. By placing them below the legal and moral age of consent, the publishers essentially free themselves from the expectation of sexualizing them for their readers. They fit into an Otherness that shields them in a way similar to Haraway’s cyborg.


  • When it comes to heroes of color in comic books such as Miles Morales, Semper's fine with it. But what he really cares more about is giving black creators more attention. "Let them create what they want to," he says. "It doesn't necessarily mean having a black face behind the mask, which is great. But let's instead turn to a black creator and say, 'What do you want to make?' Black creators matter, and that's the thing that I think is more important."
  • I'd chalk most of what's on your list up to lame writing. In desperate search of drama, and unable to obtain it any other way, some writers will resort to obvious emotional triggers/easy pickin's. You can always get a bang by killing Aunt May, or for that matter, Superman. The biggest crime is that many of these stories are unfolded badly, baldly and pathetically, by writers who don't have a clue. People looking for Freudian motives, i.e., hatred of Mother, etc., are wasting their time. Most of these writers sweated cannonballs trying to think of something SO SHOCKING that it would evoke a response from readers, and violence to women was the most horrifying thing they could come up with. Usually, the response to these badly told tales is boredom. Sometimes, they succeed in mobilizing folks like you, who wonder if these writers are sick. Nah. They just suck.
  • I came to comic books through Heavy Metal magazine. I was into fantasy art when I was a youngun, and my mom used to buy me Heavy Metal not really realizing it was an adult illustrated fantasy magazine, thought it was just cute and never opened it, thank god. I'm like a ten-year-old or younger at the time, and she would say things like, "You know this is quite a provocative cover." I'd say, "Yeah, I don't know." She'd say, "Huh, okay." So what happened is my aesthetic got warped pretty early. I would get comic books for Christmas and stuff from my mother--X-men or whatever--and I would say, "No one has sex or gets killed in this. It's not that exciting. It's not really doing it for me." That was disturbing to her, I could tell.


It is a crucial mistake, a snob's error, to think that illustrated stories aimed at a juvenile audience automatically lack a storyteller's genius. Indeed, since juvenile stories need to be stripped down for an inexperienced audience to understand, some approach the elegant simplicity of mythology. ~ John C. Wright
  • I think it generally means killing female heroes is supposed to elicit more emotions from readers than killing male readers. (...) I think the wholesale slaughter is because there's a lot of writers who think all major character motivation is made by killing folk and women characters are easier to kill than male characters since so few of them are major heroes on their own. (...) I fear, that most boys want to read stories about big muscled guy heroes showing off than gal heroes. They want the girl heroes there in the background, and even important to books, but they rarely if ever buy a book starring a female. Younger boys I think are frightened to some degree by the overly muscled women even while they may find a sexual delight in them.
  • Having always created lots of female characters, and doing some good work on them, I think, by making them all individuals (whether someone liked the Titans or not, Starfire, Wonder Girl and Raven were not in any way the same person in different latex costumes), I find most female heroes that other writers do are simply cookie-cut outs. Since a very few of these are anything special, it's easy to knock them off. Acknowledging that does not condone it. It merely explains it.


  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, the gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  • No comic magazine shall use the words "horror" or "terror" in its title.
  • All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
  • Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  • Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  • Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  • Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
  • Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Rape scenes, as well as sexual abnormalities, are unacceptable.
  • Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  • Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
  • Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.


Well, given that the Comics Code expressly forbid the use of the words Weird, Horror and Terror, did you feel that your company was being particularly targeted?
  • RINGGENBERG: Well, given that the Comics Code expressly forbid the use of the words Weird, Horror and Terror, did you feel that your company was being particularly targeted?
GAINES: I would say so, yes. (Chuckles)
  • RINGGENBERG: Let's jump ahead a little bit, to the New Direction comics. In Impact #4 you had a story called "The Lonely One", which was about prejudice against Jews. The Jewish in the story had a very bland name. It was "Miller".
GAINES: Oh, well, that's very probably the Code at work. I'll tell you an even funnier one. In Psychoanalysis we had a guy, who, one of whose problems was that he was Jewish. This was giv-ing him problems. And we were not allowed to say he was Jewish. And we had to take all reference to the fact that he was Jewish, thereby the entire story made no sense at all, because it was a story about a man with a Jewish problem and we're not allowed to say he was Jewish. This was the Code.
RINGGENBERG: So you weren't allowed any kind of depictions of different ethnic backgrounds?
GAINES: Not allowed to call any attention to it.


  • Chief Counsel Herbert Beaser asked: "Then you think a child cannot in any way, shape, or manner, be hurt by anything that the child reads or sees?"
William Gaines responded: "I do not believe so."
Beaser: "There would be no limit, actually, to what you'd put in the magazines?"
Gaines: "Only within the bounds of good taste."
Sen. Kefauver: "Here is your May issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that's in good taste?"
Gaines: "Yes sir, I do — for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding her head a little higher so that blood could be seen dripping from it and moving the body a little further over so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody."
Kefauver (doubtful): "You've got blood coming out of her mouth."
Gaines: "A little."
  • Kihss, Peter. "No Harm in Horror, Comics Issuer Says". New York Times, April 22, 1954, p. 1.
  • RINGGENBERG: Do you think there are any limits about what should be published in a comics format?
GAINES: Well, if you're excluding...I guess there's nothing left, no. I mean the...I was going to say excluding pornography, but, of course, you have the underground comics and they've been pretty pornographic for years, so I guess there's nothing left.



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