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The Essential Bowdlerised Marvel

Martin Wisse points to an overview of "edits" to The Essential Tomb of Dracula, a collection of Marvel schlock-horror comics, as well as some original Italian schlock-horror pocket comics. Interesting stuff, and kudos to The Groovy Age of Horror for providing us with large scans to set the record straight with.

Martin writes:

Now I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I dislike reprints that tamper with the original, especially when it's not done by the original creators. On the other hand, this is not like covering up Lady Justice bare breasts: it wasn't great art, just cheap titillation and little is lost by the alterations. On the gripping hand, it is indictive of the current climate in the US, that things that could be sold with no trouble at newsstands in 1979 now need to be censored to sell in bookstores!

I'm not in two minds. This is vandalism. Compare and contrast:
The original version of Viktor's experiment
Viktor, who I presume is the good guy, judging from the captions, is taking some sensible precautions in case his plan for separating the vampire from her host body fails. He straps her to his table so he doesn't get a face full of vampire if his technique doesn't work.
The bowdlerised version with boob-straps
Now Viktor is tying the vampire by her breasts, the perv. This makes him look like a complete amateur - surely that strap is going to snap loose unless those titties are made of reinforced concrete. Did the change degrade the comic? You bet it did!

Scans_daily-type snark aside, I really don't think it matters whether the censored art is cheap titillation or the expensive kinda monument for the ages. For one thing, that's for the ages to decide; for another, the people on whose behalf Marvel photoshopped away the exposed mammaries are famous for not taking "yes" for an answer: you give them an inch, they'll take a mile and then complain about being unfairly denied another mile. I can sympathise with the editors for feeling that they had the choice between bowdlerising the art or canceling the book. Perhaps I would have made the same choice in their place. But it's time for a pushback. And that begins with, among many, many other things, the people who buy classic comics knowing that they're not being offered the classic comics in their original state and refusing to stand for it.


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