In the mid 1950s the U.S. Senate forced comic book publishers to adhere to the guidelines of a Comic Code Authority. The ‘Code’ was brought in to protect America’s youth from what was then deemed disturbingly graphic and blatantly sexual content in comic books.
Post ‘Code’ comic books were produced with quite severe content restrictions. No longer did artists and writers have license to create anything they wished. Artists being artists and writers being writers these talented people soon began looking for creative ways to express themselves beyond the constraints of the ‘Code’. Suggestive art and wordplay was now being covertly added into comics.
Our Sleepy Censors articles will expose many comics that deserve a closer look. Some will be so obvious you’ll think “how’d they let that through” while others will be tamer. We hope all the posts will be entertaining and we encourage your feedback and suggestions of comics you think caught the censors sleeping.
Alf #48, Marvel Comics, December 1991
Back in the late 1980’s a television show debuted about a wise cracking alien who comes to Earth and inevitably befriends a family (mainly a younger boy; Brian). The television show was called ALF, which was actually an acronym for Alien Life Form. The family called the alien ALF even though his actual name was Gordon Shumway. The success of the show spawned toys, books, even a separate cartoon. Marvel Comics was no stranger to using licensed material at the time with such successes in the past as Star Wars, Barbie, and many more to mention here. And thus they created an Alf comic book.
On this cover:
So let’s just get this out there….
I’m not really sure if much needs to be said about this cover. Most of the reactions from anyone who sees this comic is: “What the heck’s Alf doin’ to that seal?!” Well, really, no one is too sure. However what IS known is that the cover is meant to be a joke about the seal of approval. From 1954 to just a scant few years ago, the Comics Code Authority was required to have the Seal of Approval on every comic book. So, this is a play on words because Alf is preventing the seal from escaping so that the “Seal of Approval” stays on the cover. Now, what’s genuinely frightening about this cover is the expression on the poor seal’s face! I would say that Alf is doing a great job of restraining the seal.