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DC Abandons Comics Code Authority For More Modern Ratings System
Hunter Camp   |  

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, DC Comics has finally abandoned the Comics Code Authority, and replaced it with a set of their very own ratings system, as DC’s The Source reported Thursday afternoon. This comes at a very strange time, as most publishers left the Comics Code Authority behind several years ago, and since pretty much no one else enforces the code, let alone pays any attention to it at all.

DC Comics has used this code since its inception, but instead of sticking with it, the publisher has finally decided to move into the direction of it’s peers. DC has opted for a ratings system much like the ESRB for video games, or the current rating for television programs.

DC’s ratings system is as follows:


Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief.


Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.


Appropriate for readers age 16 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.


Appropriate for readers age 18 and older. May contain intense violence, extensive profanity, nudity, sexual themes and other content suitable only for older readers.

The Comics Code Authority was created in 1954 as a response to the rise of several horror and independent comics that were considered too graphic, violent, or obscene to be deemed appropriate for children. A key factor the outcry of the public was due to the popularity of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, which largely questioned the characterizations of superheroes and their sidekicks, thus forcing super hero comics, and DC in particular to accept the required Comics Code Seal of approval. The rules for the Comics Code Seal of Approval were the following:

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.

The new ratings system is strictly for the DC Comics line of published material as the Vertigo line is only for mature audiences, as it stands currently.

The new rating is scheduled to take effect on all DC comic books in the month of April.


  1. ’bout damn time.

    Comment by Devon — January 21, 2011 @ 8:09 am

  2. What Devon said, emphasized with an “!” Plus, “better late than never!”

    Price drops, new ratings, new MMORPG and finally a few decent movies behind us…all tingly! How about a Justice League movie next?

    Comment by Paul — January 21, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  3. The last vestige of McCarthyism finally dies.

    Comment by Andrew — January 21, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

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