In the 900th issue of Action Comics, Superman decides to go before the United Nations and renounce his U.S. citizenship. " 'Truth, justice and the American way'—it's not enough any more," he despairs. That issue, published in April 2011, is perhaps the most dramatic example of modern comics' descent into political correctness, moral ambiguity and leftist ideology.
We are comic-book artists and comics are our passion. But more important they've inspired and shaped many millions of young Americans. Our fear is that today's young comic-book readers are being ill-served by a medium that often presents heroes as morally compromised or no different from the criminals they battle. With the rise of moral relativism, "truth, justice and the American way" have lost their meaning.Comics are apparently a public good (unlike, say, water) which must be kept pure so "young comic-book readers" hear only what a mid-20th-Century censor would approve. No, literally:
In the 1950s, the great publishers, including DC and what later become Marvel, created the Comics Code Authority, a guild regulator that issued rules such as: "Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal." The idea behind the CCA, which had a stamp of approval on the cover of all comics, was to protect the industry's main audience—kids—from story lines that might glorify violent crime, drug use or other illicit behavior.Actually the idea was to protect publishers from the moral panic engendered by Fred Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent. Thanks to the CCA, "there were still good guys and bad guys," sigh Dixon and Rivoche, but "the 1990s brought a change" -- though the change actually came in 1960s, starting with R. Crumb and Zap, and giving rise to a comic artist community that wanted to stretch the medium beyond kiddie comics, not just in the underground but also in their own workplaces -- and by the 90s they had the power to do so. Whatever you think of the result, that change has clearly meant more choice in what buyers can find in the market -- but Dixon and Rivoche portray it as censorship and "political correctness," and themselves as victims:
The industry weakened and eventually threw out the CCA, and editors began to resist hiring conservative artists.[Cite please.]
One of us, Chuck, expressed the opinion that a frank story line about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children. His editors rejected the idea and asked him to apologize to colleagues for even expressing it. Soon enough, Chuck got less work.And that's why everyone has AIDS today -- because the comics commissars blacklisted Dixon and Rivoche and turned the means of production over to loyal Party members like Frank Miller and Alison Bechdel, who Seduce the Innocent to this day. George F. Will may think being raped is the coveted victim-status of our time, but among his conservative colleagues the fashionable victim card is always that liberals refuse to do things their way, which they inevitably portray as censorship.
I can't blame them too much -- they have a book to sell and, as I have observed before, comics is a hard dollar. I'm mainly surprised that conservatives are still peddling the purification of culture. Their traditional appeals to racism and sexism I can understand, but do even Mississippians want the swears and sideboobs driven from their TVs?