DC Drops The Comics Code

The once powerful comics rating organization is abandoned in favor of a new system.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

DC Drops The Comics Code

The Comics Code Authority may have finally been dealt a final blow, ending a legacy of censorship that traces back to the ’50s.

Earlier today, DC Co-publisher and comic book legend, Jim Lee announced that beginning this month, DC will no longer use the Comics Code Authority on any of its books. In its place, DC will run its own ratings system of E (Everyone), Teen, Teen Plus and Mature. Vertigo titles will be unaffected by the new system as they have carried their own mature label since the start of the imprint.

In 1954, at the height of the comic book scare orchestrated in part by Fredric Wertham’s book "Seduction of the Innocent;" the Comics Magazine Association of America was formed to regulate the content of nearly every comic book published in the United States; effectively acting as a censor for the industry.

Some of the earliest parts of the code seemed to directly target EC Comics’ famed horror and crime titles by insisting that crime stories "never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal," in addition to banning all depictions of monsters, nudity and it even dictated that "in every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds."

Although the code was gradually relaxed over the next few decades, all depictions of homosexuality were banned even as recently as the late ’80s.

Ten years ago, Marvel left the Comics Code behind in favor of their own rating system as well. For nearly a decade, DC was the last major publisher still sumbmitting their books for CCA approval. With DC’s departure, Archie Comics is the only remaining comic book publishers that remain with the CCA.