Have Some Spooky Halloween Fun With Afterlife With Archie And The Comics Code Authority!


It’s Halloween today, and what better time to do some spooky reading about the history of comic books? Just in time for the creepiest day of the year, I’ve got a review of the first volume of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife with Archie up over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. I look at the zombie-filled series as the death knell of the Comics Code Authority, the content guide first introduced in 1954 to counter accusations that comic books were leading to juvenile delinquency.

When the code was being developed, Archie Comics’ publisher John L. Goldwater was heavily involved and patterned parts of the code on Archie’s own in house guidelines. For decades, Archie Comics clung to the code, publishing harmless and unobjectionable family friendly comics, but recently Archie left the Comics Code behind. Now, free of its limitations, Archie is going to town with a variety of titles in an assortment of new and more mature genres.

Afterlife with Archie is a gleeful celebration of everything the Comics Code stood against. The code banned horror and bloodshed, and Afterlife with Archie revels in it. The code promoted respecting one’s parents, and Afterlife with Archie has a character kill his zombified father. The code expressly forbade depictions of the undead, and Afterlife with Archie blew past that one the moment that the series was first conceived. Plus, it’s a fantastic comic book!

Head on over to the Los Angeles Review of Books for my full essay. It’s a spooktacular way to spend your Halloween!

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

One thought on “Have Some Spooky Halloween Fun With Afterlife With Archie And The Comics Code Authority!

  1. Really great review at the Los Angeles Review of Books. I would have to say that for the past two decades it was actually the Comic Code Authority that has been the walking dead. The direct market, the monumental success of both Watchmen and the Dark Knight Returns, and the birth of Image Comics, were like a succession of bullets shot into the CCAs body, inflicting ever more grievous wounds. It took several more years, with the CCA bloodily limping along, dying a slow, protracted death. But the comic book biz finally, um, gave up the ghost as first Marvel and then DC dropped the CCA. So when Archie finally dumped the code, it was basically a formal funeral for a body that had been lying unclaimed in the morgue for the past few years. Yeah, this is a very grim, gruesome analogy on my part but, hey, it *is* Halloween 🙂

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