The Comics Code Authority – A Brief History

A recent post about the link between comic books and juvenile delinquency prompted some discussion about the Comics Code Authority or CCA.  The Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) began in September 1954 in response to the uproar over the subject matter in comic books.  Much of this was a result of the Congressional hearings and the work of Dr. Frederick Wertham and his book, Seduction of the Innocent.  The CMAA start the Comics Code Authority and the ever present “stamp” many of us remember seeing on comic books we purchased as kids.

Here are the requirements of the CCA 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.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  • No comic magazine shall use the words “horror” or “terror” in its title.
  • All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • 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.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  • Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  • Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  • Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
  • Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Rape scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
  • Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  • Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
  • Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.

One Response to “The Comics Code Authority – A Brief History”

  1. Dave Gieber says:

    Very interesting requirements. Actually I agree with most of these as far as taste is concerned. But taste should not be governed by a small body of individuals who are trying to control the masses. And parents should have been playing the ultimate censorship roll, and again, not a small body of individuals.

    Anybody else has a shout out about this concept??

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