Whatever happened to the Comics Code Authority?

Are they still in business? (I haven’t bought a comic in a good few years, the prices are unbelievable now).

Do any of the big comic book companies still use them? Or did they just wither away (and if so, does that mean there’s no specific censorship of comics now, other than general federal/state laws on obscenity, etc)?

It still exists, though the contents of the code have been significantly changed over the years and it no longer has anywhere near the power it once had.

Marvel dropped them in 2001 and now uses its own rating system. DC continues to submit comics for CCA approval, but not in any systematic way. For example, the latest issue of Batman has the CCA seal, but the latest issue of Robin does not.

As far as I know, there is specific censorship of comics now apart from that self-imposed by the publisher. Diamond, who are currently the only comics distributor of any real significance, ships pornographic comics, so I have to imagine they don’t have any content restrictions.

I think you’re missing a “no” here.

Anyway, of course even under the CCA comics censorship was self-imposed – the Authority was a creation of the comic publishers, and funded by them, and no publisher was ever required by anything other than their own horse sense to submit an issue for review. Although in the early days shipping without the CCA stamp was the kiss of death, because distributors would refuse to ship it, and stores would refuse to stock it. That hasn’t been the case in most of the country for decades now, though.

I don’t think Image or Dark Horse (the #3 and 4 publishers thru comic shops) ever belonged to the CCA, nor did CrossGen (briefly the #5 publisher), even though CrossGen’s stuff would have been approved without any agita.

Archie Comics, I think, still gets regular CCA approval. I expect it’s only a matter of time before DC stops submitting issues to the CCA altogether, except maybe their kids’ titles.


And remember that Disney never submitted its comics, on the grounds that they were so obviously wholesome given the brand name that no outside validation was necessary.

The Spiderman sequence in which Harry does drugs (late 60s/early 70s?) was the first published with the code seal by someone who had been submitting. When the sky didn’t fall, the Code gradually withered away.

Those issues were published without the CCA seal.

Wow! I just found a copy of the code online (from 1971).

It’s a miracle that any good comix were written under those conditions!

Rule 3 is particularly sinister.

“Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

And how about this for a catch-all?

“All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the Code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency, shall be prohibited.”

True. A few months later, Green Lantern/Green Arrow published a sequence where Speedy did drugs under the CCA seal. The CCA was probably revising thing around this time, and Marvel may have been able to get a seal, but it was better PR not to bother.

The code’s from 1954, not 1971. And the purpose of rule 3, in addition to the rest of the rules in that part, was so that crime wouldn’t be glorified…you know, so that it’s not the criminals who are the good guys and the law the bad guys.

The 1971 amendment of that section of the code changed it to:

Here’s the 1954 code:

1971 amendment:

1989 amendment: