Monday, January 21, 2013

Reading Room: WEIRD FANTASY "Judgement Day"

As Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, and Al Feldstein could tell you...
...one of the best aspects of science fiction was the opportunity to present commentary on social issues that you couldn't otherwise show due to censorship.
Most of this blog's audience is too young to know, first-hand, that the societal conditions shown on Cybrinia were, in fact, the way American society was structured up to the mid-1960s.
This story originally-appeared in EC's Weird Fantasy #18 (1951) to mostly-positive feedback.
But that was pre-Comics Code!
When it was scheduled to be reprinted in Incredible Science-Fiction #33 (1956) it had to be submitted to the newly-created Comics Code Authority.
As explained in the superb book Tales from the Crypt: the Official Archives by Digby Diehl...
This really made ‘em go bananas in the Code czar’s office. 
“Judge [Charles] Murphy was off his nut. He was really out to get us”, recalls [EC editor Al] Feldstein. “I went in there with this story and Murphy says, “It can’t be a Black man”. 
But … but that’s the whole point of the story!” Feldstein sputtered.
When Murphy continued to insist that the Black man had to go, Feldstein put it on the line.
“Listen, he told Murphy, “you’ve been riding us and making it impossible to put out anything at all because you guys just want us out of business”.
[Feldstein] reported the results of his audience with the czar to [EC publisher Bill] Gaines, who was furious [and] immediately picked up the phone and called Murphy.
“This is ridiculous!” he bellowed.
“I’m going to call a press conference on this. You have no grounds, no basis, to do this. I’ll sue you”.
Murphy made what he surely thought was a gracious concession.
“All right. Just take off the beads of sweat”.
At that, Gaines and Feldstein both went ballistic.
“Fuck you!” they shouted into the telephone in unison.
Murphy hung up on them, but the story ran in its original form.
It was the final comic book EC Comics published.
MAD was converted into a b/w magazine, removing it from Comics Code approval, and reprints of EC's comics were published in paperback format, also exempting them from the Code.
Think of how racial attitudes in America have changed...on the day celebrating both Dr Martin Luther King, Jr's. achievements in civil rights, and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I have a b/w version in a paperback from way back in the 60s. It meant a lot when I first read it. I did not know it pre dated the 60s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome.
      That must have been "Tales of the Incredible" from Ballantine Books.

      My first look at this story was also in b/w, in the back of an issue of the b/w magazine Amazing World of DC Comics.
      But you have to admit that a story involving orange and blue robots makes a lot more sense in color, eh?

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Thanx for posting!

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