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Comic Book Legends Revealed #270

STATUS: I'm Going With False

In 1964, Warren Publishing debuted Creepy, a black and white comic book magazine. Up until that point, Warren had been doing pictorial magazines, mostly those having to do with monster and horror films, and this would be their first foray into comic magazines.

The success of Creepy led to Eerie the next year...

Since these books were magazines, they were not subject to the Comics Code Authority.

Similarly, EC Comics' Mad Magazine was ALSO not subject to the Comics Code Authority because of its format.

However, it's pretty much undisputed now (I featured it as a legend years ago) that Mad did NOT become a magazine because of the Comics Code, but rather because Harvey Kurtzman would have left EC if it were not for the changeover to a magazine (of course, he ended up leaving anyways). The whole Comic Code avoidance issue was a bit of a happy accident.

Well, a reader named George wrote in to say that he read on a message board that Warren's incident was ALSO a happy accident - that Warren knew nothing about the Comics Code since he came from a magazine background, and that he was just convinced that doing comics would be a logical extension of his picture stories that he had in his magazines at the time.

According to the poster, Warren did not even LEARN about the Comics Code's existence until a few issues of Creepy had already been published.

I don't know what Warren interviews are being cited by this anonymous message board poster, but in the ones that I have read with Warren over the years, he's been pretty clear that he DID know about the Comics Code at the time.

In the classic Jon B. Cooke interview with Warren that first appeared in Comic Book Artist #4 (and later formed the backbone of the TwoMorrows Publication, The Warren Companion), Warren states the following:

The Warren publishing genre was horror and monsters, so it was logical to put this same theme into comics. A lot of serious thought preceded the decision to launch Creepy; a lot of soul-searching. The specter of EC and Bill Gaines—the humiliation he suffered, and the terrible things that Congressional committee did to him—hung over me. I knew that the industry's Comics Code Authority (which was very strong at the time) exercised an authority (a word not misused—they had authority!) over an entire industry. You could not print comic books or be distributed in America without their blessing and seal of approval. It was self-censorship, similar to the movies' Hays Office, which granted the Motion Picture Seal of Approval to a film before it was shown in movie theaters. The Comics Code saved the industry from turmoil, but at the same time, it had a cleansing kind of effect on comics, making them "clean, proper and family-oriented." How do I surmount this? Fasten your seatbelts. We would overcome this obstacle by saying to the Code Authority, the industry, the printers, and the distributors: "We are not a comic book; we are a magazine. Creepy is magazine-sized and will be sold on magazine racks, not comic book racks." Creepy's manifesto was brief and direct: First, it was to be a magazine format, 81/2" x 11", going to an older audience not subject to the Code Authority. Second: Creepy writers and artists must be the best. They won't be good and they won't be excellent. They will be the best. Those two formulas—magazine format and the best. If I could do that, the public will accept us and the industry will have to accept us. That was the blueprint for Creepy. That's how it started.

That's pretty much directly on point, right?

And I've never seen a Warren interview saying otherwise.

In addition, the initial editor on Creepy, Russ Jones, had this to say on his own website about a comic story he had written before Creepy came about...

This was to run in Famous Monsters, but sat on the shelf for quite a long time. Jim liked it, but comics still frightened him. For some reason, he believed the dreaded 'Code' would start to pry into his territory. The next assignment was the redoubtable Horror of Party Beach, photo/comic magazine.

Again, pretty much on point, and from someone other than Warren.

When you couple these two things in with the fact that the whole EC Comics/Comics Code disaster from a decade earlier was fairly well known, I think it is pretty darn reasonable to think that Warren knew about the Comics Code.

Enough so that I'm going with a "false" here.

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