Comic Pix Panelologist: The End of Pre-Code Horror, 1954

-From the Ivan Briggs Collection of Comic-Related Photos.

The last gasp of pre-Code horror: 35mm color slide, undated, but probably November or December, 1954.

The Comics Code took effect in September, 1954, and the sole survivors of the crime & horror craze on display at this newsstand are gutless versions of Atlas’s MYSTERY TALES, Gleason’s CRIME DOES NOT PAY and Harvey’s CHAMBER OF CLUES (the previous 26 issues were titled CHAMBER OF CHILLS). EC comics are nowhere to be seen, with many vendors refusing to sell New Direction titles. Casper the Friendly Ghost haunts the comics rack, having wafted, wraithlike, from the corpse of Harvey’s horror line. 

I’d love to hear from anyone who loved EC and other pre-Code horror and crime publishers back then. What did it feel like to shop the stands in the first few months after the Code was imposed? Fan-Addicts must’ve scanned the horror-free stands with a mounting sense of… well, horror. 

The Jughead Annual on the top left seems to mock the woebegone EC fan… In this context it represents the triumph of squeaky-clean Archie Comics’ publisher, John Goldwater, over the momentarily vanquished Bill Gaines.