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The Death Knell of the Comics Code?

So, DC Comics announced today that they are going the way of Marvel Comics and just doing their own rating system (by the way, DC, I like E for Everyone better than Marvel’s A for All, well done).

Is this it for the Comics Code Authority?

It was pretty much just DC Comics and Archie Comics keeping it afloat, and DC was obviously the bigger of the two. Now that DC is pulling out, is that it for the group? Archie Comics might as well just do their own ratings, as well.

By the way, it’s interesting to note that Vertigo will just remain “For Mature Readers.”

42 Comments

Wasn’t the Comics Code the child of Archie Comics to begin with?

I had thought they already got away from the comics code around the time of Infinite Crisis.

I would love for my daughter to be able to read comics like I did in the 70’s but I find most unsuitable. Oddly enough, only Ultimate Spiderman is a good read for all ages. I say oddly because the Ultimate is one of the most bloody unsuitable line for kids than most other comics with the exception of spider-man…

What DC Comics were still using the code? None of the comics in this giant pile I’ve got here have it on the cover.

Who or what is the comics code, anyway? Is it some guy in Queens?

I hope so. Good riddance.

I literally have not one good thing to say about the code. It should have died when Stan Lee published those three Spider-Man issues without it 40 years ago. It’s archaic and pointless and no one in the world knows what it means or will notice that it’s gone. I spit on your grave, Comics Code.

What DC Comics were still using the code? None of the comics in this giant pile I’ve got here have it on the cover.

The white cover books this month were the first time they didn’t go for Comics Code approval for Superman and Action Comics, to name two.

And only twenty or thirty years after it stopped being relevant…

Huh, and here I’d assumed they dropped it shortly after Marvel did.

I always thought the content inside the DC books were the death knell for the CCA.

Does the CCA still even exist? I just thought DC put it on their covers for purposes of nostalgia…

Remember 20+ years back when DC tried to go with their own comics rating system and the outrage was so bad that they killed the plan before it could even be used?

What? No one remembers? Just me, because I’m old? *SIGH*

i thought the code went away a long time ago mostly after Marvel finaly decided they were not going to use it any more.then to find out Dc is dropping it after so long. surprise the comic code was not gone a long time ago for it should be up to the reader to decide what they want to read and parents what is right for kids. like archie.

Remember 20+ years back when DC tried to go with their own comics rating system and the outrage was so bad that they killed the plan before it could even be used?

But Joe, Vertigo won’t be affected by this and it was the notion of DC touching their Vertigo books (that is, the books that later formed the foundation for what eventually became Vertigo) with a rating system that outraged people like Frank Miller back then, not the idea of putting an “E” on books that already were being approved by the comics code.

This is good news, I think.

Paradoxically, it probably helps All-Ages comics the most. The violent content in most comics had rendered the code largely meaningless anyway. An “E for Everyone” rating is similar to video games and gives parents meaningful information.

Oddly, the other night Jeopardy had “CCA stamp” as one of the identifying characteristics of a comic book (along with “rolled spine” and something else I don’t remember), and I was hard pressed to think of anyone still using it besides DC. Maybe Archie?

My initial thought is that now the price to Archie for operating the Comics Code Authority will now consist of buying inkpads for the Official Stamp.

I read elsewhere that only DC, Archie and Bongo use the Code right now.

“An “E for Everyone” rating is similar to video games and gives parents meaningful information.”

Does it really, though? Thor: The Mighty Avenger was an “all-ages” book but the fourth issue was all binge drinking and alcohol-related violence.

So wait, DC was still using the Comic Code all these years? I thought they stopped around the same time Marvel did. So you mean that Marvel stops using the Comic Code and that leads to DC ramping up their gore, gratuitous violence and cannon fodder? Strange.

Since you note that you prefer “E for Everyone”, it’s worth remembering that Marvel had to change its original rating system since the MPAA has the trademark for “PG”. Well, guess what, the ESRB has “E”, “T” and “M” trademarked.

I liked that little pointless Comics Code Authority logo in the corner of my comics like it was still the 50s. Not that I’ll miss it. Yes, that’s basically it for the Code, but then it’s pretty much consisted of one person in a cramped office playing Minesweeper for several decades now.

I thought DC had stopped using the Code long ago as well. Did Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52 or Rise of Arsenal have the seal? Because they had a LOt of controversial stuff.

In fact, why are they making a big deal out of this *now*? If I were them I would just have stopped using the seal quietly long ago. Then again, if I had been them I would not have allowed the extremes they did.

As for their new, in-house code: we’ll see if they can go for a year or less without a book labeled T or T+ featuring graphic violence, sexual themes or cannibalism.

About fucking time.

Sijo,
I think DC was only submitting the Johnny DC titles, plus Superman, Batman, Action, and Detective to the CCA. They stopped submitting the bulk of the DCU titles a couple years ago.

I haven’t been paying attention, but I thought the CCA died off years ago. Did they actually sign off on all of the DC and Marvel comics from the last couple of years?

Because other than pictures of genitals, I can’t think of a single other “inappropriate for children” thing they’ve spared us. Murder, rape, incest, child abuse, mutilation, terror, torture, genocide, deals with the devil, dead babies… and that’s just in the superhero books.

I’m a fan of getting rid of the comics code, but comics need to follow video games and movies and create it’s own independent grading system so that buyers can know. Marvel gives Avengers Academy an A(all ages code) and it’s clearly a teen and up rating(read the letters page in the current issue, I agree with the letter writer). You can’t allow the companies to control their own rating system, it needs to be independent.

Can anyone cite an example of something that’s been changed or cut out of a DC comic because of the Code, from within say the last ten years? It would interesting to know.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 21, 2011 at 5:59 am

Nothing lasts forever.

CCA has long outlived its uses for decades.

Let us bow our heads for a moment of silence and then go party! :-)

[…] The Death Knell of the Comics Code? – Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources […]

Good riddance to a pointless system.

Because other than pictures of genitals, I can’t think of a single other “inappropriate for children” thing they’ve spared us. Murder, rape, incest, child abuse, mutilation, terror, torture, genocide, deals with the devil, dead babies… and that’s just in the superhero books.

I think man-on-man rape hasn’t appeared. Geoff Johns did some attempted man-on-man rape I believe in Flash for Mirror Master’s origin but that’s the closest it’s come. I’m sure Johns is writing up that scenario into one of his books as we speak now that the CCA is gone.

I thought DC had stopped using the Code long ago as well. Did Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52 or Rise of Arsenal have the seal? Because they had a LOt of controversial stuff.

Since the 80s DC have had a sort of three-tier system where some books had the code, some were “Mature Readers” and some sat in-between with neither. I’m guessing the books you mention were in the latter category.

Yeah, as Sue noted earlier, the last year or so, DC was only submitting their kiddie books, plus their four longest-running titles (Detective, Action, Superman and Batman). They stopped submitting most of their books roughly around the time of Blackest Night #1.

That’s nice, but when are they going to finally move the UPC box to the back of the book?

That’s nice, but when are they going to finally move the UPC box to the back of the book?

I wouldn’t imagine that it’d be any time soon. It’s kind of hard to ask your advertisers to accept having the UPC code in their ad.

To Brian’s last comment, I know Marvel had some of the issues of 1602 (probably all, actually) have the UPC on the back cover. It made for odd ads… But yeah, I don’t see it happening regularly, especially since, I believe, Diamond requires ALL books to have a UPC. They won’t necessarily put them on back cover ads from all publishers.

But yeah, the Code’s been irrelevant for decades. I’d say that the last relevant time for it was as someone mentioned above, the SpiderMan issues with the drug stuff. That led to a changed code, and that’s about the last time it really mattered.

The issue joecab brought up involved a mature readers label at DC, and in part led to Alan Moore leaving DC (the first time). This was around the mid/late 80s, and the Code, the Creator’s Bill of Rights, et al were in the air at the time. Moore started up Big Numbers self-published, Bissette was doing Taboo, Miller started Sin City at Dark Horse around then.

Actually, I think the Code ITSELF was irrelevant to those discussions, as self publishers had no use for it, and the DC thing was more an internal thing where Jeanette Kahn didn’t want to publish certain things (the Veitch Swamp Thing meets Christ, Gaiman being told for the serial killer issue of Sandman that people don’t masturbate in the DCU, etc), not that the Code was the issue. But these discussions led to the above mentioned great works from great creators, and led to the creation of Vertigo, so it kinda worked out in the end.

For more on self publishing and that type stuff, see http://www.srbissette.com for Bissette’s discussion with Dave Sim on self publishing, etc. One day he did mention that his drawing in a Swamp Thing issue led to that book dropping the Code.

I think I’d noticed that DC books hadn’t had the Code for a little while, and as people said, if some books DID have the Code with what was in them, it was a joke.

Archie and Bongo could probably safely drop the Code and no one would care, as it’s unlikely they’re going to change up their content (well, Archie might, they’re aggressively pushing their line lately).

And the Code is irrelevant because the spinner rack in my local grocery store featured the Buffy issue 34 where she and Angel “have relations” without any sort of warning or nothing. I know I was kind of put off, and I don’t think of myself as a prudish fogy. (Put off for kids’ sake, that is. I read it myself just fine…)

“Can anyone cite an example of something that’s been changed or cut out of a DC comic because of the Code, from within say the last ten years? It would interesting to know.”

Action #869, maybe? The “soda pop” cover.

Hmm, interesting question – was Action 689 recalled because of DC Comics itself, because of a Comics Code issue, or both? And would we have any way of knowing which? My impression is that it was just DC’s decision, but who knows?

I imagine that was DC’s own move. I don’t think we would necessarily know when and if the CCA censored something, as it would be much earlier in the production of the comic.

At the end of the secret society storyline in Captain America, the President, who was clearly meant to be Nixon, kills himself. This, the comics code allowed….. a more subversive narration could not have been concocted to raise a flag to what the code was supposed to prevent. How can one, who as a child, read such stories and grew to become a well reasoned adult, complain about something as natural as sex in Buffy 34. The creation of the code was ment to prevent the corruption of a puritanical view of a perfect society. It arose from the same fears that allowed for the McCarthy hearings. If you could survive the impact of a romance between a 15yr old Kitty Pryde and (then from an evil commie state of the USSR) Colossus, Tony Stark being a drunk, and a duck, running running for prez, while frolicking around with a sexxy Cleavelandite, then worry not for the children. The problem with ADULTS is that we forget how smart the kids are, and how much they enjoy reading about the problems we consider adult.

That “soda pop” cover led to one of your best posts ever, Brian (the Zappa ref one), but iirc, everything I heard at the time suggested it was a DC in house thing.

Some of you may have seen now elsewhere that Bongo dropped the Code last year, and Archie is dropping it with the April title, so it appears to be officially dead. As Rich over at bleedingcool says, though, what happens to all of their files? (He posted a neat bit about some changes to an issue of Inhumans that Gerry Conway was editing. Neat stuff)

I’m not saying that in-house rating systems are good or bad, but one example of how confusing they can be can be found in this article: Rated A doesn’t mean “All.” It’s actually the second tier in Marvel’s rating system, and it’s put on books that are recommended for ages 9 and up (for example, Avengers Academy and Thor: Mighty Avenger are rated A). The all-ages rating is actually just called “all-ages” (it’s what the Marvel Adventures line is rated, etc.), as Brian pointed out in this week’s Comic Book Legends Revealed.

Hopefully DC will do a better job of letting people know what the various ratings are than Marvel does. As far as I know, Marvel only list the ratings and what they mean in Marvel Previews every month . . .

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