Blog Archives

Tales From the Code: The Christmas Panic

December 23, 2013
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Tales From the Code: The Christmas Panic

It was “The Night Before Christmas.” At least that was the name of the story in Panic #1, a 1953 release from MC Gaines’ EC Comics. This story not only stirred controversy and was banned in the state of Massachusetts, but it also led to the arrests of both Bill Gaines’ associate, Lyle Stuart, and his receptionist,…

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Obscenity Case Files: Zap Comix #4

June 13, 2013
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Obscenity Case Files: Zap Comix #4

This edition of the obscenity files turns to the world of comics (or rather, comix) to take a look at the arrest and prosecution of two salespeople who sold a Robert Crumb underground comic that featured an all-American incestual orgy to an undercover police officer. This case would not only stall the underground comix movement, but…

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Obscenity Case Files: George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words

May 22, 2013
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Obscenity Case Files: George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words

When George Carlin recorded an expletive-laden 12-minute monologue before a live audience in a California theatre, he probably didn’t expect it to become the basis of a key Supreme Court decision. But in 1973, the monologue was aired as part of a radio broadcast, and it was heard by a man who complained to the…

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Obscenity Case Files: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

May 8, 2013
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Obscenity Case Files: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is special for several reasons. First, Tinker is a landmark case that defines the constitutional rights of students in public schools. But more importantly, Tinker shows that people can make a difference in the world by standing up for what they believe. These people don’t…

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Obscenity Case Files: United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses”

April 24, 2013
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Obscenity Case Files: United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses”

James Augusta Aloysius Joyce is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. His book Ulysses has been called one of the most challenging and rewarding novels ever written and is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature. However, what many may not realize…

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Obscenity Case Files: The Miracle Decision

March 6, 2013
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Obscenity Case Files: The Miracle Decision

Before 1952, movies were not provided and protection from censorship under the Constitution. Things changed in 1952 thanks to Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini, and an amorous interlude between a wanderer named Saint Joseph and a disturbed peasant who believes herself to be the Virgin Mary. In the landmark case of Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson,…

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Tales From the Code: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

February 14, 2013
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Tales From the Code: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

It’s Valentine’s Day, so love is in the air. What better time to talk about the history of romance comics? After the war, when the sales of the superhero and crime comics began to wane, romance comics filled the gap. Soon, the market was filled with hundred of “love” titles. Of course, it didn’t take long for this…

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Tales From the Code: The Near Extinction of Sheena

January 25, 2013
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Tales From the Code: The Near Extinction of Sheena

The comic books of the Golden Age represented little more than escapism for millions of readers. And no one provided escape better than Sheena Queen of the Jungle, whose exotic adventures and good girl art titillated male readers and spawned an entire genre of Jungle Girls. However, Sheena, a hunter who defeated every challenge she faced…

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Tales From the Code: Welcome to Government Comics

December 14, 2012
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Tales From the Code: Welcome to Government Comics

Throughout history, state and federal governments have utilized popular culture to spread their message. Given the effectiveness and popularity of sequential art, it should be no surprise that comics would be enlisted into the cause. And much like Marvel’s merry mutants, comics protected a world that feared and hated them. This was apparent in 1954, when…

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A History of Censorship, Halloween Edition — My Ears Could Hear the War but the Censors Wouldn’t Let Me Read It

October 31, 2012
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A History of Censorship, Halloween Edition — My Ears Could Hear the War but the Censors Wouldn’t Let Me Read It

On October 30, 1938, Americans believed that Martians had invaded the planet Earth because of realistic broadcast produced by Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater of the Mind. And while that broadcast created havoc and disarray, it was still considered protected free speech by the FCC. Years later, comics would not be given the same consideration. It’s…

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