January 21, 2011
DC Comics to ditch the Comics Code Authority
by Melville House
In 1954, the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA), under the pressure of an increasingly concerned public, the questionable work of Dr. Fredric Wertham, and the fear of possible government regulations, decided that it would be within their best interest to install their own self-regulatory organization. The result, the Comics Code Authority (CCA) and its seal of approval, became a means to guarantee the “quality” of an individual comic book to both concerned parents and vendors. Although the CCA had no legal authority over the industry, the overwhelming majority of distributors refused to carry items without the seal. As a result, comic book publishers were quick to comply with the restrictions for fear of facing seemingly inevitable ruin.
Although the CCA’s power has been on a steady decline since its introduction, its seal has, nonetheless, been present on some of DC Comics publications for the last 56 years.
Now, however, as a report at Comics Alliance informs us, that won’t be happening anymore. In an announcement on its blog labeled “from the co-publishers” (they go unnamed, but they are Jim Lee and Dan DiDio), DC says it will no longer use the CCA Seal on any future publications, and will be implementing a new rating system “of its own design” starting in April.
This new rating system, as detailed in the letter, appears to borrow heavily from the self-ratings of the video game industry. Rather then effectively ban certain material as the original CCA sought to do, this new system seeks to create simple levels of content that should be easily recognizable to both distributors and buyers:
E – EVERYONE
Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief.
T – TEEN
Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.
T+ – TEEN PLUS
Appropriate for readers age 16 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.
M – MATURE
Appropriate for readers age 18 and older. May contain intense violence, extensive profanity, nudity, sexual themes and other content suitable only for older readers.
For contrast, here are some of the highlights, as provided by wikipedia, of the CCA regulations at the height of its power in 1954:
- Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
- 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.
- Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
- Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
- Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.