Here’s just a snippet of the kinds of rules comic books had to adhere to in order to be published. It wasn’t until the mid 50’s when the Comic Code Authority was put into place, regulating the content within comic books.
Many of the rules within the CCA were aimed at maintaining a “wholesome” outlet for the youth, attempting to sway their political, religious, and sexual opinions to a certain conservative standard
Charles F. Murphy, a magistrate in New York model the CCA after the Hollywood Production Code which was established sometime in the early 1930’s. The code was created mainly out of response to the gore, violence and seemingly sexual nature that the drawn women portrayed on a “regular” basis. The Code’s goal was to exterminate these violent images, and the sexual nature of comics, ultimately referring to it as “good girl art.”
Comic Creator William Gaines took it upon himself to openly criticize the Code and how badly it minimized the creativity of writers and artists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, and many more were banned from comics in general, making the horror comics a primary focus of the CCA. Stan Lee, Marcel Comics superstar, also later criticized the Code on the same points.
Slowly, as comic book companies withdrew from the CCA, creating their own rating system, it became defunct as no longer holds any validity with advertiser and other magazine publishers. The last Comic Book publishers to withdraw from the CCA was DC Comics and Archie Comics.
Personally, I’m glad the Comics Code Authority is now invalid; the creativity of writers and artists were greatly diminished and was the main reason why comics have such a bad reputation among the non comic book reader. Thank God people like Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Will Eisner came along to give the art form some legitimacy within the world of artistic literature.
Below is a list of many of the rules comics had to adhere to when the CCA was still in control…
- 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.
- 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 word 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.