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!