Your Comics Code at Work: Fantasy Masterpieces #6

In the mid-1960s, Joe Simon began legal action to try to reclaim the copyright to the Captain America stories he and Jack Kirby had written and drawn twenty years earlier, and by extension the rights to the character. In a move apparently made to help re-establish his ownership of the material, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman instructed editor Stan Lee to begin reprinting as many of those early Captain America stories was was possible in the pages of FANTASY MASTERPIECES. Of course, changes had to be made in order for these pre-Comics Code stories to see print in a post-Code world–so that’s what we’re going to take a brief look at here.

The opening splash page was the most reworked page in the whole of this particular story. Not only was the evil Fang’s giant head eliminated (most likely for seeming too horrific) but so was Betty Ross in the background, where she was strapped to an altar awaiting death. The vignette of Fang and the narrative caption were also shifted around to cover up some of the now-empty areas. And while there wasn’t any credit on this particular original story, on every one on which there had been a credit the byline of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby was also removed.

I’m not sure where Marvel was sourcing the reproduction materials for these reprints–they may have been using a crude version of the Jack Adler technique where pages of the printed comics were bleached to eliminate color and to try to create a workable black plate. Regardless, the final product is crude and ugly. In addition, since the physical dimensions of comic books had changed since the 1940s, the individual pages needed to be sliced apart and repositioned to account for the difference in the live area.

Outside of that initial page, there really aren’t many changes made to this story to make it suitable for publication in 1966.

Here, not only is the visage of Fang reworked a bit in the final panel (though he’s only slightly less racist in his depiction) but also the portion of his dialogue where he speaks of how Chan and Bucky will scream in agony has also been eliminated.

There are a bunch of edits here, to both copy and art. And in order to cover for one bit, Chan even gets a new balloon himself in panel 2. And the intimation that Bucky is about to be decapitated has been eliminated from the final two panels.

Same thing in the opening panel here. No decapitation for Bucky in the reprint.

And that’s about it!

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