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"Love and Death"

(24 pages)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist(s): Steve Bissette and John Totleben
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Karen Berger
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover: Steve Bissette and John Totleben (signed)


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This isn't the first modern mainstream comic book to be published without the Comics Code approval seal. Three issues of (AMAZING) SPIDER-MAN (#96-98) were published by Marvel comics in 1971 without the seal, in order to address the subject of drug abuse, but SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #29 is significant in that the rest of this series would not seek Code approval.

1:3 The bottle to the top left reads "Dr. Banner Almond Soap - Dilute XXX". (Dr. Bruce Banner is the Hulk.) The shampoo bottle on the right reads "Works good on bald heads". The broken bottle reads "Essense de la Pue"(sic). Very funny.

1:6 Note the names on the brush. John Ostrander and Tim Truman, who created GRIMJACK at First Comics, were classmates of SWAMP THING artists Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch at the Kubert School. In the book Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman, page 218, Bissette mentions "the great parties classmates Tim and Beth Truman threw in their Lake Hopatcong apartment."

5:3 "Moonies" is the slang name for members of Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

7:5 Matt's reflection looks kind of skeletal.

8:3 The faces in the windows look skeletal.

9:5 The document on the wall says "Certificate of Recorporation — Graham Ingles, Execture". Ingels (misspelled in the comic) was an artist on horror books like TALES FROM THE CRYPT in the 1950s.

11:6 There's that mirror effect again.


From the time that the Comics Code seal of approval was instituted until this issue, very few mainstream comics were published without the seal on the cover. The comic book industry began using the code as a self-regulating guideline in the 1950s in response to the McCarthy-style campaign against comic books by Dr. Frederick Wertham. The prohibition of "offensive" material put publishers such as EC Comics out of business.

The absence of the seal on SWAMP THING #29 signaled a maturing of the comics industry and paved the way for DC's "Vertigo" line and other adult-oriented comic books. Subsequent issues would have the words "Sophisticated Suspense" on the cover, to signify that the comic was targeted at more mature readers. Alan Moore stopped writing for DC after ST #64, when they required ST covers to be labeled "For Mature Readers", much in the same way rock music albums had begun to be labeled for "Explicit Lyrics". When DC developed the non-code Vertigo line of comics, in response to the success of SWAMP THING and SANDMAN, every Vertigo book (including ST) would be labeled "For Mature Readers".

13:6 Here is a list of the shelf and book titles -

Top shelf ("Criminal Psycology"):
One title is only partially visible - "of a - - der". (Might be "Anatomy of a Murder", the drama referenced in issue #21.)
2nd shelf ("Autism"):
"One Child"
"The Seige: A Family's Journey into the World of an Autistic Child" by Clara Claiborne Park. (This is the only "real" book I can identify.)
"Son-Rise" (The Autism Treatment Center of America uses a program of that name.)
3rd shelf : Nothing visible

4th shelf ( "Childhood Phobias"):
"Don't Look in the Cellar"
"The Hand in the Potty"
"Under the Bed"
"Footsteps in the Attic"
"(???) Sewer"
5th shelf ( "Insect Fear"):
"Leeches and Slugs"
"Grasshopper Spit Fiend"
"Mosquito Fear"

13:7 "The Profession of Violence" is a real book by John Pearson.

Edward Gein murdered many women during the 1950's and decorated his farmhouse with their body parts. He died in jail.

16:4 Steve Bissette, Alan Moore, and John Totleben are seen in the photo. (at left)

18 In the upper right of the page is Alan Moore's face. Joćo Paulo Cursino points out that the face of the crab (halfway down on the left side) looks drawn to be a specific person. Matt Cable or artist Steve Bissette?

18:4 Abby's perfume is labeled "Forever Amber". This was the name of a 1944 romance novel (and later movie) which was extremely controversial for its sexual content. Joćo Paulo Cursino suggests that since insects are preserved in amber, this may be an allusion to the insect-like Anton Arcane's eternal essence being preserved in Matt's body.

The protagonist of "Forever Amber", Amber St Clair, appears in Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a member the 17th century League, Prospero's Men. In LoEG: The Black Dossier, she has a cameo appearance in the fictional sequel to "Fanny Hill".

22 Anton Arcane's classic line ("Just say uncle!") in this issue was not included when it was reprinted in ESSENTIAL VERTIGO: SWAMP THING #9, July 1999! The word balloon fell off the page before they printed it!

COMMENT: The original printing of this issue included a full-page "bonus pin-up" illustration of Swamp Thing by Bissette and Totleben. (Shown at right)

COMMENT: The "Nukeface" story was originally supposed to begin in this issue, but was rescheduled for issue ST #35.

COMMENT: In 1990, DC Comics collected/reprinted issues 28-34 and SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2 in a book titled "Swamp Thing: Love and Death".

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