57 years after the Comics Code Authority was created to certify that comics bearing its seal had been censored and did not contain anti-authoritarian, sexual or counterculture content, it has finally died. The CCA was formed in response to the moral panic brought on by the Seduction of the Innocents, a medical hoax perpetrated by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham who testified that comics were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. (Paradoxically, Wertham was also a pioneering civil rights campaigner — he apparently believed in freedom but just wasn't interested in sharing).
As of February, no major comic will bear the CCA seal any longer — February being the month that Archie drops the iconic serif A. When Archie no longer cares about your certification of squeaky cleanness, you are truly dead.
But Pellerito said Archie's decision has nothing to do with content, and there will be no editorial change when the code leaves the front of the Archie books.
"The code never affected us editorially the way I think it did other companies," he said. "You know, we aren't about to start stuffing bodies into refrigerators or anything. We have to answer to Archie fans."
Currently, everything Archie Comics publishes is "all ages." And Pellerito said that, if Archie comic ever skews to an older audience, the publisher will let the readers know.
"If we ever do anything that we feel might be too far out, we'd put some type of rating on it," he said. "For instance we're relaunching Sam Hill, and it's a little more action adventure. That might be a 'teen' book, if we put a rating on it. But by and large, our stuff is built for everyone to read.
"Our goal is to make every Archie comic a must-read comic for kids, and a guilty pleasure for adults," he said.