During MSP#44 (that’s the Major Spoilers Podcast, episode 44 for those not following along), I made mention of posting excerpts of the Comics Code Authority rules for you to glance at during the discussion with Dr. Peter Coogan.

Check out some of the “rules” that were put in place to self censor the comic industry.

Comics Code Authority (1954 edition) Highlights

  • 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. Violent love 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.

Read more about the Comics Code Authority over at the Wikipedia.


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. remember after 1971, the code above was re-written, and today, very few companies submit their content to the board for an approval sticker. The only two that consistently do that are DC (Johnny DC line) and Archie Comics. A lot of this has to do with the direct market availability.

  2. Anybody who needs to put words on just how stupid the entire code is should read one of the many (many!) articles and op-eds that Frank Miller has written about it, the Sin City comics letter pages were basically a page on which to discuss the idiocy of the Code.

    Oh and by the way, the first “non code” comic to come out after the code was invented was a Marvel comic (spiderman I belive) in which Stan Lee and whoever was drawing it were trying to make a “drugs are bad” story. Turns out the code didn’t even allow drugs to be depicted in a negative manner…..and that spiderman issue led to them changing the code so that the legendary Green Arrow/Green lantern issue where speedy becomes a junkie could be published…The more you know :D

  3. >>Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.

    I guess Jim Balent shouldn’t waste his time trying to get any of his comics coded.

    What about males?

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