Monday, January 24, 2011

Question: How Many CCA People Are Now Out Of Work?

Something I've haven't seen discussed yet since Archie announced they will be discontinuing submitting their comics for a Comics Code Authority seal...

I don't think I've seen it discussed much outside it's 1950s origins, but there are... or rather, were... people behind the CCA. For every comic book that was submitted, there was somebody working for the CCA to receive it, read through it, and provide suggestions/edits before providing an official stamp of approval. Every issue that was to carry the CCA logo went through this inspection process. And while comic book editors were obviously familiar with the rules and generally kept the writers and artists in line with them anyway, the CCA employed people independent of the publishers.

If I recall correctly, the CCA used to be largely comprised of housewives that were working part-time. As the number of publications grew, the CCA must have grown just to accomodate the greater volume of work. And I expect that by the 1990s, the organization had become decidedly more formalized and resembled any other company with managers and HR and all that.

So, my question is: what happens to the organization itself now? If none of the comic book publishers are submitting work, they have A) nothing to do and B) no income with which to do anything anyway. I presume this means the operation has to close up shop, sell off their assets (if nothing else, some chairs and desks and general office equipment) and -- and this is the significant bit -- put all of their employees out of work. But I have NO idea about the size of the organization these days. Are we talking three people? A dozen? A hundred?

And how do some of those skills transfer? An administrative assistant or a payroll manager or an accountant could probably take most of his/her skills to other companies, but what about the people who were doing the actual comic book reviews? It kind of counts as editing, I suppose, but not really. There can't be THAT many openings for people to slide over into the movie or video game ratings agencies. So what do these now-former comic book ratings experts do?

Since Marvel dropped their use of the Seal several years ago, I expect that many of the layoffs occurred back then. But what about whoever's left? I don't begrudge any of the publishers for not using the code any longer (it's really been wholly irrelevant for at least a couple decades now, and the publishers are certainly under no obligation to support any other single company) but I am concerned about the individuals who have just lost their jobs. Seriously, how many people are now out of work because of this?

5 comments:

Matt K said...

It would be interesting to learn, mostly to satisfy curiosity; the CCA seems kind of like it's been almost a black box so far as I can tell.

I've generally assumed that it couldn't have more than a handful of full-time employees, by this point, but that's obviously a complete guess.

Ian @ Trade Reading Order said...

Very interesting! I hope you'll update is if you find out anything more.

shadzane said...

Bob Greenberger shares a little bit about how the CCA worked here: http://www.bobgreenberger.com/index.php/2011/01/21/thoughts-on-the-comics-code/

Looks like the organization was much smaller than you are assuming...

Sean Kleefeld said...

Thanks for the link., shadzane.

I wasn't making ANY assumptions about the size. My questioning whether there were 3 or 12 or 100 people was genuine; I have zero clue.

While I really appreciate his perspective, I don't see anywhere in Greenberger's piece that really speaks to the size. He cites "dwindling membership" and having to walk down to their offices for Darvin's sign-off on something and, while that suggests we're not talking hundreds of employees, it also doesn't say if that's because Darvin was the only one or just the only one with any real power/influence. We could still be talking 30-40 employees. Or two.

Not to mention that the anecdote is a quarter century old.

I really do appreciate the link and I don't mean to sound dismissive but, looking at the piece objectively, it doesn't answer my question at all.

shadzane said...

No, I understand, that article just gave a few hints. Since then, this article has been written that comes closer to answering your questions:

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/comics-code-authority-defunct-since-2009-110124.html

Looks like no one lost their jobs last week, because they were already gone!