Nerd Nite Madison Podcast: The Comics Code's legacy

Ken Goldstein explains how self-censorship ended up being crucial to the transformation of comics.


Nerd Nite Madison is back at the High Noon Saloon this Wednesday, February 24. We partner with Nerd Nite Madison to present these events, and to create this audio series of their talks.

The Comics Code Authority sprang from a post-World War II brew of patriotism, conflicted politics, and moral panic, as Madison resident and visual artist Ken Goldstein explained in his May 2015 Nerd Nite Madison talk at the High Noon Saloon. Goldstein's talk offers some general historical context on the creative, business, and legal forces that shaped the American comics landscape as we now know it, from the creation of the first superhero to the epic court battle between the creators of Superman and Captain Marvel. He looks at how comics grew up with soldiers returning home from the war.

In laying out the history of the Comics Code—a self-censorship effort the comics industry undertook to stave off government censorship—Goldstein argues that the Code's restrictions pushed comics writers and artists to become more inventive. The attempt to tame comics, Goldstein seems to be telling us, only made them stranger and more transgressive in the long run.

Give the talk a listen below.

And here are Goldstein's slides from the presentation.

Holy Censorship, Batman!