Swamp Thing #29 (1984) and the Comic Book Code

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A lot has been written about Alan Moore and his run on Swamp Thing. Alan Moore was given the Swamp Thing title where he reimagined the character completely making Swamp Thing go from one of DC’s lowest selling titles to one of its highest. It was through this run that Alan Moore introduced readers to the fan favorite character John Constantine (Swamp Thing #37 1985).

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Swamp Thing #37.jpg

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Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing ran from issue #21 (1984) to issue #64 (1987) and included artwork from John Totleben, Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, and Tom Yeates. Many of the books within this run serve as stand alone stories within the Swamp Thing universe – and it is within these stories that one of the most underrated DC books appears – Swamp Thing #29.

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Swamp Thing #29.jpg

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Why is this book important?
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This is the first DC comic – and the first mainstream comic book – to be published without the Comic Code Authority seal of approval. The Comic Code Authority was set up in 1954 as a comic self-regulating group that would deem titles acceptable for children. Upon reviewing Swamp Thing #29 – the issue was rejected and DC decided to publish the book anyways – making it the first DC title (AND THE FIRST BOOK TO BE SOLD AT NEWSSTANDS) since 1954 to be published without the codes approval. The next issue, Swamp Thing #30, did have the seal of approval but after this issue DC abandoned sending copies of Swamp Thing to be reviewed and issue #30 was the last issue of Swamp Thing to be published with the seal of approval. What was so bad about this issue? Well here is an excerpt from the article “Comics Code rejects Saga of Swamp Thing tale; Swamp Thing Rejects Code” published in Comics Journal #93 from 1985 –

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“Swamp Thing writer Alan Moore told the Journal that the Code objected to the double page spread in #29, which showed characters being menaced by festering corpses. Then, Moore added, the Code went back and read the entire issue, opting afterward to withhold approval when it was discovered the incest motif that was present in the issue. Moore explained that the code receives such a large volume of comics that they are generally only leafed through.”

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ST29 1.jpg

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I find it comical that the Comic Code wouldn’t inspect every panel of a comic book but this is also just anecdotal information from Alan Moore months after the issue was published.

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ST29 2.jpg

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Near Mint copies of Swamp Thing #29 sell for under $10 online. GPA states that the average CGC 9.8 price is under $30 for this issue – which is kind of crazy when you consider the books place within DC Comic history. This is a very significant book within both the DC and comic universe – it was one of the first stepping stones that helped publishers abandon the Comic Code – which helped expand the comic book medium.

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