As the rest of the country celebrates its Independence Day this July Fourth, one noble comic book fan fears that American democracy could be on life support. Obsessed with the specter of a defunct industry regulatory body created and fallen out of relevance before he was even born, twenty-eight year old Doug Strawman sees the threats to the freedoms Americans hold dear looming around every corner in his home town of Freedom Falls, Indiana, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to stop them, so long as "whatever it takes" is here understood to mean comparing every perceived challenge to his worldview as heralding the return of the dreaded Comics Code Authority.
"In 1954, the Comics Magazine Association of America created the Comics Code Authority as a precautionary measure following Senate hearings and the panic caused by Dr. Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent. It was objectively the worst thing to happen in the fifty-seven years it remained in operation, and not just in comics." Strawman explained to Bleeding Cool in an exclusive interview. "Since Archie Comics finally abandoned the code in 2011 and, using their newfound freedom, promptly produced a total of five issues of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina over a six year period, the world has been constantly on the brink of starting a new Comics Code Authority, and I have to stay ever vigilant to prevent it from happening."
Strawman told Bleeding Cool that he recognizes aspiring Frederic Werthams everywhere he goes, including within his own family, and he's not afraid to call them out.
"Just last week we had meatloaf for dinner, and when I sat down at the table, I asked my mom for a Pepsi from the fridge," Strawman recounted. "But she told me that Coca-Cola was on sale at the store, so we only had that and not Pepsi. Can you believe that censorship? I said, 'what are you ****ing kidding me? This is exactly how the Comics Code Authority happened.' It's my artistic expression to drink Pepsi instead of coke, and I don't think anybody has the right to take that away from me."
"All I wanted was a Pepsi — just one Pepsi — and she wouldn't give it to me," Strawman continued. "Just like Dr. Fredric Wertham. And now she wants me to see a therapist."
Strawman's strange behavior hasn't gone unnoticed by his neighbors in Freedom Falls.
"Sure, I know Doug," said one local businessman still reeling from his encounter. "Doug came into the office in June looking to purchase a jet ski. I said to him, 'Sir, this is an accounting firm. We don't sell jet skis or any other kind of recreational water vehicle.' Well, that was the wrong thing to say apparently because he became very agitated, grabbed me by my shirt, shook me, and started yelling that he didn't need anyone to tell him what comics he's allowed to read or what establishments he can purchase jet skis from. I tried to explain that I was a CPA, not the CCA, but he was too far gone by that point so everyone in the office went to lunch early and, thankfully, when we got back, he was gone."
Almost everybody in Freedom Falls has had at least one personal run-in with Doug Strawman and his campaign to preserve artistic freedom. Residents of Freedom Falls that have been accused by Strawman of wanting to bring back the Comics Code Authority or of being "basically Fredric Wertham reborn" include a dry cleaner who removed a favorite stain from Strawman's trousers, a Starbucks barista who accidentally made Strawman's latte skinny, a man who only had menthol cigarettes when Strawman asked to bum one, a supermarket checkout clerk who forgot to offer Strawman a choice between paper and plastic, a woman wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of a rival town's sports team, an Arbys employee who wouldn't sell Strawman roast beef sliders for one dollar each because it wasn't between the hours of 2-5 PM, a local pot dealer who portions his goods using the metric system, a dairy cow with what Strawman described as "an unreasonable number of brown spots," and a police officer who cited Strawman for reckless driving and destruction of public property earlier this year.
"I was expressing myself artistically by driving my car through that shopping mall, and I don't think anybody has the right to tell me what I can do with my art" Strawman protested. "And also I didn't feel like walking all the way through JC Penney just to get an Orange Julius from the food court."
"But of course, the ****ing judge was basically Fredric Wertham reborn, so I ended up having to pay the ticket, damages to JC Penney, and court costs," Strawman revealed. "I swear, it's like the Comics Code Authority all over again around here."
At press time, Strawman reached out to Bleeding Cool to let us know that this article was "probably the most perfect example of the sort of irresponsible, Wertham-like behavior that will ultimately lead to the return of the Comics Code Authority" that he's ever seen. Bleeding Cool would apologize in advance, but Strawman tells us that would only make things much worse.