The End of the Comics Code is Nigh
DC Comics has announced that it will no longer be submitting its issues to the notorious Comics Code Authority (CCA) for their approval as of January 2011. In a letter addressed to retailers, DC unveiled a rating system designed to inform comics consumers (or their parents) about the content of the issues. DC’s decision to leave the CCA come a full decade after Marvel’s decision to leave. This leaves Archie Comics and Bongo comics — famous for printing adaptations of The Simpsons and Futurama — as the only publishers still seeking the once-ubiquitous CCA seal of approval for their comics.
With only two publishers left, the CCA seems even more unnecessary than ever. The advent of comic book shops and online marketplaces has all but eliminated the pressure on publishers to submit to the code. Moreover, there is more interest in the artistry of comics than ever before, which places almost no importance on preserving so-called moral values. Take, for example, Art Spiegelman’s award-winning graphic novel Maus. It would have almost certainly been soundly rejected by the CCA and yet it has been enormously successful — critically and commercially.
With DC joining Marvel in using their own in-house rating system, this will hopefully be the death knell for this antiquated piece of comics history.
The CCA had its roots in the book The Seduction of the Innocent, which claimed a link between juvenile crime and reading comic books. A Senate Subcommittee was formed in the book’s wake, which lead to the formation of the CCA in 1954. The CCA would later become famous for its strangely specific, draconian rules, such as:
In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
And my personal favorite:
Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.