CODE OF THE COMICS MAGAZINE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
This seal of approval appears only on comics magazines which have been carefully reviewed, prior to publication, by the Comics Code Authority, and found to have met the high standards of morality and decency required by the code.
The comics magazine, or as it is more popularly known, the comic book medium, having come of age on the American culture scene, must measure up to its responsibilities.
Constantly improving techniques and higher standards go hand in hand with these responsibilities.
To make a positive contribution to contemporary life, the industry must seek new areas for developing sound, wholesome entertainment. The people responsible for writing, drawing, printing, publishing and selling comic books have done a commendable job in the past, and have been striving towards this goal.
Their record of progress and continuing improvement compares favorably with other media. An outstanding example is the development of comic books as a unique and effective tool for instruction and education. Comic books have also made their contribution in the field of social commentary and criticism of contemporary life.
Members of the industry must see to it that gains made in this industry are not lost and that violations of standards of good taste, which might tend toward corruption of the comic book as an instructive and wholesome form of entertainment, will not be permitted.
Therefore, the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. has adopted this Code, and placed its enforcement in the hands of an independent Code Authority.
Further, members of the Association have endorsed the purpose and spirit of this Code as a vital instrument to the growth of the industry.
To this end, they have pledged themselves to conscientiously adhere to its principles and to abide by all decisions based on the Code made by the Administrator.
Code for Editorial Matter
General Standards – Part A
- Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
- No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime, with the exception of those crimes that are so farfetched or pseudo-scientific that no would-be lawbreaker could reasonably duplicate.
- Policemen, judges, government officials and respected institutions shall not be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority. If any of these is depicted committing an illegal act, it must be declared as an exceptional case and that the culprit pay the legal price.
- If a crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
- Criminals shall not be presented in glamorous circumstances, unless an unhappy ends results from their ill-gotten gain, and creates no 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 gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
- No unique or unusual methods of concealing weapons shall be shown, except where such concealment could not possible be duplicated.
- Instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal’s activities should be discouraged, except when the guilty, because of their crime, live a sordid existence and are brought to justice because of the particular crime.
- The crime of kidnapping shall never be portrayed in any detail, nor shall any profit accrue to the abductor or kidnapper. The criminal or the kidnapper must be punished in every case.
- The letters of the word “crime” on a comics magazine cover shall never be appreciably greater in dimension than the other words contained in the title. The word “crime” shall never appear alone on the cover.
- Restraint in the use of the word “crime” in titles or subtitles shall be exercised.
- Nudity in any form is prohibited. Suggestive and salacious illustration is unacceptable.
- Females shall be drawn realistically without undue emphasis on any physical quality.
Marriage and Sex
- Divorce shall not be treated humorously or represented as desirable.
- Illicit sex relations are not to be portrayed and sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
- All situations dealing with the family unit should have as their ultimate goal the protection of the children and family life. In no way shall the breaking of the moral code be depicted as rewarding.
- Rape shall never be shown or suggested. Seduction may not be shown.
- Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
General Standards – Part B
No comics magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title. The words may be used judiciously in the body of the magazine. [Footnote: The word horror or terror in a story title in the body of the magazine has been ruled to be an injudicious use, and therefore is not permitted.]
- 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, or torture, shall not be used. Vampires, ghouls and werewolves shall be permitted to be used when handled in the classic tradition such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high calibre literary works written by Edgar Allen Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world.
- Narcotics or Drug addiction shall not be presented except as a vicious habit. Narcotics or Drug addiction or the illicit traffic in addiction-producing narcotics or drugs shall not be shown or described if the presentation:
- (a) Tends in any manner to encourage, stimulate or justify the use of such narcotics or drugs; or
- (b) Stresses, visually, by text or dialogue, their temporary attractive effects; or
- (c) Suggests that the narcotics or drug habit can be quickly or easily broken; or
- (d) Shows or describes details of narcotics or drug procurement, or the implements or devices used in taking narcotics or drugs, or the taking of narcotics or drugs in any manner; or
- (e) Emphasize the profits of the narcotics or drug traffic; or
- (f) Involves children who are shown knowingly to use or traffic in narcotics or drugs; or
- (g) Shows or implies a casual attitude toward the taking of narcotics or drugs; or
- (h) Emphasizes the taking of narcotics or drugs throughout, or in a major part, of the story, and leaves the denouement to the final panels.
General Standards – Part C
All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to to the spirit and intent of the Code, and are considered violations of good taste and decency, shall be prohibited.
- Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings- judged and interpreted in contemporary standards- are forbidden.
- Special precautions to avoid disparaging reference to physical afflictions or deformities shall be taken.
- Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and whenever possible good grammar shall be employed.
- Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.
Code for Advertising Matter
The regulations are applicable to all magazines published by members of the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. Good taste shall be the guiding principle in the acceptance of advertising.
- Liquor and tobacco advertising are not acceptable.
- Advertising of sex or sex instruction books are unacceptable.
- The sale of picture postcards, “pin-ups,” “art studies,” or any other reproduction of nude or semi-nude figures is prohibited.
- Advertising for the sale of knives, concealable weapons, or realistic gun facsimiles is prohibited.
- Advertising for the sale of fireworks is prohibited.
- Advertising dealing with the sale of gambling equipment or printed matter dealing with gambling shall not be acceptable.
- 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.
- To the best of his ability, each publisher shall ascertain that all statements made in advertisements conform to the fact and avoid misrepresentation.
- Advertisement of medical, health, or toiletry products of questionable nature are to be rejected. Advertisements for medical, health or toiletry products endorsed by the American Medical Association, or the American Dental Association, shall be deemed acceptable if they conform with all other conditions of the Advertising Code.