31 décembre 2008 3 31 /12 /décembre /2008 07:51

Eric Frank Russell
(January 6, 1905 - February 28, 1978) was a British author best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. Much of his work was first published in the United States, in John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction and other pulp magazines. Russell also wrote horror fiction for Weird Tales, and non-fiction articles on Fortean topics. A few of his stories were published under pseudonyms, of which Duncan H. Munro was used most often.Russell was born in 1905 in Sandhurst in Berkshire, where his father was an instructor at the Royal Military Academy. Russell became a fan of science fiction, and in 1934 while living near Liverpool he saw a letter in Amazing Stories written by Leslie J. Johnson, another reader from the same area. Russell met up with Johnson, who encouraged him to embark on a writing career. Together, the two men wrote the novella "Seeker of Tomorrow" which was published in Astounding in July 1937. Both Russell and Johnson became members of the British Interplanetary Society. 
Russell's first novel was Sinister Barrier, published in the first issue of Astounding's short-lived sister magazine Unknown (March 1939). This is an explicitly Fortean tale based (as Russell explains in the novel's foreword) on Charles Fort's famous speculation "I think we're property". His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary (serialized in Astounding during 1948) is an early example of conspiracy fiction, in which a paranoid delusion of global proportions is perpetuated by a small but powerful secret society. After serving with the Royal Air Force during World War II and working briefly as an engineer, Russell took up writing full-time in the late 1940s. He became an active member of British science fiction fandom and the British representative of the Fortean Society. He won the first Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1955 for his humorous short story "Allamagoosa".Russell was awarded a posthumous Prometheus Hall of Fame award in 1985 for "The Great Explosion", and in 2000 he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Russell also wrote a large number of shorter works, many of which have been reprinted in collections such as Deep Space (1954), Six Worlds Yonder (1958), Far Stars (1961), Dark Tides (1962) and Somewhere a Voice (1965). His non-fiction includes a compendium of Forteana entitled Great World Mysteries (1957) as well as The Rabble Rousers (1963), a sardonic look at human folly including the Dreyfus affair and the Florida land boom. Two omnibus collections of Russell's science fiction are available from NESFA Press: Major Ingredients (2000), containing 30 of his short stories, and Entities (2001) containing five novels. The 1995 novel Design for Great-Day, published as by Alan Dean Foster and Eric Frank Russell, is an expansion by Foster of a 1953 short story of the same name by Russell.

Writing style and themes

Russell had an easy-going, colloquial writing style that was influenced in part by American "hard-boiled" detective fiction of the kind popularized by Black Mask magazine. Although British, Russell wrote predominantly for an American audience, and was often assumed to be American by readers.

Much of Russell's science fiction is based on what might be described as "Fortean" themes, with Sinister Barrier and Dreadful Sanctuary being the most notable examples. Another common theme is that of the single resourceful human pitted against a ponderous alien bureaucracy -- this is the basis for the novels Wasp and Next of Kin, as well as several shorter works.

Russell is sometimes categorized as a humorous writer, and Brian Aldiss describes him as John W. Campbell's "licensed jester".However, Russell's humour generally has a satirical edge, often aimed at authority and bureaucracy in its various forms. On other occasions, for example in the short stories "Somewhere a Voice" and "The Army Comes to Venus", his work has a deeper and more serious tone, in which the spiritual aspects of humanity's endeavours and aspirations shine through.


Cultural influences

Russell's short story "Jay Score" (1941) is unusual amongst the pulp fiction of its time in presenting a black character, the ship's doctor, without any racial stereotyping. Indeed, this story and its sequels (collected in Men, Martians and Machines) may be considered an early example of the science fiction sub-genre in which a spaceship is crewed by a multi-ethnic, mixed human/non-human, complement (cf. the much later Star Trek).

It has not been proven, but Russell may be the originator of the phrase "May you live in interesting times," which is frequently attributed as an ancient Chinese curse. The phrase is quoted with this attribution in Russell's short story "U-Turn", published in the April 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under the pseudonym of Duncan H. Munro. It is unclear whether Russell invented the phrase for the story, or whether it existed prior to that.

Russell also appears to have originated the colloquialism "myob" for "Mind your own business", which appears frequently in the novella "...And Then There Were None" (Astounding, June 1951) and in the novel The Great Explosion based upon it.



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Published by D.Vicente - dans Culture
31 décembre 2008 3 31 /12 /décembre /2008 06:08

        General Standards Part A:

1) Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
2) No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.


3) Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.

4) If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.

5) Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates the desire for emulation.

6) In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.

7) Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.

8) No unique or unusual methods of concealing weapons shall be shown.

9) Instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities should be discouraged.

10) The crime of kidnapping shall never be portrayed in any detail, nor shall any profit accrue to the abductor or kidnapper. The criminal or the kidnapper must be punished in every case.

11) The letters of the word "crime" on a comics magazine shall never be appreciably greater than the other words contained in the title. The word "crime" shall never appear alone on a cover.
12) Restraint in the use of the word "crime" in titles or subtitles shall be exercised.



General Standards Part B:

1) No comic magazine shall use the word "horror" or "terror" in its title.

2) All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.

3) All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.

4) Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.

5) Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.

General Standards Part C:

All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the Code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency, shall be prohibited.


1) Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.

2) Special precautions to avoid references to physical afflictions or deformities shall be taken.

3) Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and wherever possible good grammar shall be employed.



Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.


1) Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.

2) Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.

3) All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.

4) Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.

NOTE: It should be recognized that all prohibitions dealing with costume, dialogue, or artwork applies as specifically to the cover of a comic magazine as they do to the contents.
Marriage and Sex:

1) Divorce shall not be treated humorously nor shall be represented as desirable.

2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.

3) Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honorable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for moral distortion.

4) The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.

5) Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower and baser emotions.

6) Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.

7) Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.

Code For Advertising Matter:

These regulations are applicable to all magazines published by members of the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. Good taste shall be the guiding principle in the acceptance of advertising.

1) Liquor and tobacco advertising is not acceptable.

2) Advertisement of sex or sex instructions books are unacceptable.

3) The sale of picture postcards, "pin-ups," "art studies," or any other reproduction of nude or semi-nude figures is prohibited.

4) Advertising for the sale of knives, concealable weapons, or realistic gun facsimiles is prohibited.

5) Advertising for the sale of fireworks is prohibited.

6) Advertising dealing with the sale of gambling equipment or printed matter dealing with gambling shall not be accepted.

7) Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.

8) To the best of his ability, each publisher shall ascertain that all statements made in advertisements conform to the fact and avoid misinterpretation.

9) Advertisement of medical, health, or toiletry products of questionable nature are to be rejected. Advertisements for medical, health or toiletry products endorsed by the American Medical Association, or the American Dental Association, shall be deemed acceptable if they conform with all other conditions of the Advertising Code.

(Source: "Comix, a History of Comic Books in America,"
by Les Daniels, ©1971 Les Daniels and Mad Peck Studios)

Examples of some parodies of the comics code seal of approval



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Published by D.Vicente - dans Comics
31 décembre 2008 3 31 /12 /décembre /2008 05:56

The Comics Code Authority (CCA) is part of the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA), and was created to regulate the content of comic books in the United States. Member publishers submit comic books to the CCA, which screens them for conformance to its Comics Code, and authorizes the use of their seal on the cover if the books comply. At the height of its influence, it was a de facto censor for the U.S. comic book industry. The CCA was created in 1954 as part of the CMAA in response to public concern about what was deemed inappropriate material in many comic books. This included graphic depictions of violence and gore in crime and horror comics, as well as the sexual innuendo of what aficionados refer to as good girl art. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent rallied opposition to this type of material in comics, arguing that it was harmful to the children who made up a large segment of the comic book audience. The Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1954, which focused specifically on comic books, had many publishers concerned about government regulation, prompting them to form a self-regulatory body instead. The CCA code was based upon the largely unenforced code drafted by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers in 1948, which in turn was modeled loosely after the 1930 Hollywood Production Code. The CCA, however, imposed many more restrictions than its predecessor.  Like the previous code, the CCA prohibited the presentation of "policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions ... in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority." But it added the requirements that "in every instance good shall triumph over evil" and discouraged "instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities." Specific restrictions were placed on the portrayal of kidnapping and concealed weapons.  Depictions of "excessive violence" were forbidden, as were "lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations." Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and zombies could not be portrayed. In addition, comics could not use the words "horror" or "terror" in their titles. The use of the word "crime" was subject to numerous restrictions.  Where the previous code had condemned the publication of "sexy, wanton comics," the CCA was much more precise: depictions of "sex perversion", "sexual abnormalities", and "illicit sex relations" as well as seduction, rape, sadism, and masochism were specifically forbidden. In words echoing the Hollywood Production Code, love stories were enjoined to emphasize the "sanctity of marriage" and those portraying scenes of passion were advised to avoid stimulating "lower and baser emotions." Advertisements for liquor, tobacco, knives, fireworks, nude pin-ups, postcards, and "toiletry products of questionable nature" were all prohibited.

Criticism and enforcement

The CCA had no legal authority over other publishers, but magazine distributors often refused to carry comics without the CCA's seal of approval. Some publishers thrived under these restrictions, others adapted by canceling titles and focusing on Code-approved content, and others went out of business.Publisher William Gaines believed that clauses forbidding the words "crime", "horror" and "terror" in comic book titles had been deliberately aimed at his own best-selling titles Crime SuspenStories, The Vault of Horror, and The Crypt of Terror. These restrictions, as well as those banning vampires, werewolves, and zombies, helped make EC Comics unprofitable; all of its titles except MAD were canceled in the year following the CCA's introduction. Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham dismissed the Code as an inadequate half-measure.

Non-Code comics

The first comic to be released in (semi-)violation of the comics code appeared as early as 1955, when William Gaines reprinted the story "Judgment Day" from Weird Fantasy #18 (1953) in Incredible Science Fiction #33 (Jan-Feb 1955)."Judgment Day" was a replacement for a Code-disapproved story, but was itself also "objected to" because of "the central character being black.
Gaines' story (illustrated by Joe Orlando) was "a strong allegory on the evils of race prejudice," which point was necessarily "nullified if the lead character" was not black. Gaines informed the Code Authority that "if they did not give that issue the Code Seal, he would see that the world found out why," causing the Authority to reverse its initial decision and allow the story to run.Soon after, however, facing the severe restrictions placed upon his comics by the CCA, and with his "New Direction" titles floundering, Gaines "quit comic book publishing to concentrate on MAD."


In the late 1960s, the underground comics scene arose, with artists creating comics that delved into subject matter explicitly banned by the Code. However, since these comics were distributed largely through unconventional channels, such as head shops, they were able to skirt the authority of the Comics Code and achieve a certain amount of success without CCA approval.

Updating the Code

In 1971, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee was approached by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare to do a comic book tale of drug abuse. Lee agreed and wrote a three-part Spider-Man story portraying drug use as dangerous and unglamorous. The CCA, in the person of Archie Comics publisher John L. Goldwater, refused to approve the story because of the presence of narcotics, deeming the context of the story irrelevant (code administrator Leonard Darvin "was ill" at the time, allowing Goldwater's decision to stand). Confident that the original government request would give him credibility, and with the approval of his publisher, Martin Goodman, Lee published the story in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May-July 1971), without CCA approval. The storyline was well-received and the CCA's argument for denying approval was deemed counterproductive. "That was the only big issue that we had" with the Code, Lee recalled in a 1998 interview:
“  I could understand them; they were like lawyers, people who take things literally and technically. The Code mentioned that you mustn't mention drugs and, according to their rules, they were right. So I didn't even get mad at them then. I said, 'Screw it' and just took the Code seal off for those three issues. Then we went back to the Code again. I never thought about the Code when I was writing a story, because basically I never wanted to do anything that was to my mind too violent or too sexy. I was aware that young people were reading these books, and had there not been a Code, I don't think that I would have done the stories any differently.  ”

The Code was revised a number of times during 1971. Initially "liberalized" prior to Marvel's Spider-man story on January 28, 1971 to allow for (among other things) the sometimes "sympathetic depiction of criminal behavior... [and] corruption among public officials" ("as long as it is portrayed as exceptional and the culprit is punished") as well as permitting some criminal activities to kill law-enforcement officers and the "suggestion but not portrayal of seduction." Also newly allowed were "vampires, ghouls and werewolves... when handled in the classic tradition such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high calibre literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world". Zombies, lacking the requisite "literary" background, remained taboo. However, Marvel skirted the zombie restriction in the mid-1970s by calling the apparently deceased, mind-controlled followers of various Haitian super-villains "zuvembies". This practice carried over to Marvel's super-hero line. In the Avengers comic, when the reanimated super-hero Wonder Man returned from the dead, he was also referred to as a "zuvembie".

Stan Lee and Marvel drew criticism from DC head Carmine Infantino "for defying the code," stating that DC will not "do any drug stories unless the code is changed." As a result of publicity surrounding the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare's sanctioning of the storyline, however, the Code was revised to permit the depiction of "narcotics or drug addiction" if presented "as a vicious habit".

"Wolfman" and credits

At the 1974 New York Comic Art Convention panel "Marvel Comics: The Method and the Madness", Marv Wolfman told the audience that when he began writing for DC, he was forbidden to use the name "Wolfman" in print due to the Comics Code Authority's ban on werewolves. In 2007 Wolfman elaborated  that in House of Secrets #83 (Jan. 1970), the narrator introduced Wolfman's story "The Stuff that Dreams are Made of" as having been told by "a wandering wolfman". The CCA rejected the story and flagged the "wolfman" reference as a violation. Editor Gerry Conway explained to the CCA how the story's author was in fact named Wolfman, and asked whether it would still be in violation if his name were clearly stated on the first story page. The CCA said it would then not violate the Code, so Conway gave Wolfman a writer's credit for the story. Afterward, other DC writers began asking for similar published credits.

21st century

Despite periodic revisions to the Code to reflect changing attitudes about appropriate subject matter (e.g., the ban on referring to homosexuality was revised in 1989 to allow non-stereotypical depictions of gays and lesbians), its influence on the medium continued to wane, and publishers gradually reduced the prominence of the seal on their covers. The development of new distribution channels, especially "direct market" comics specialty shops, provided additional means for non-Code books to reach a large audience, while newsstand distribution — a shrinking component of industry sales — became less important.

A new generation of publishers emerged in the 1980s and '90s, distributing solely to specialty shops and not wanting CCA membership or approval. DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and other CCA sponsors began to publish comics for adult audiences, without the CCA seal. For example, in the 1990s Milestone Media's Milestone imprint (published through DC Comics) submitted its books to the CCA, but published them regardless of the CCA's ruling, placing the seal only on issues that passed. In 2001, Marvel Comics withdrew from the CCA in favor of its own ratings system. As of 2007, DC Comics and Archie Comics are the only major publishers submitting comics for Code approval; DC only submits comics from their Johnny DC and DC Universe superhero lines, but DC Universe titles are sometimes published without Code approval.

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