Created as one of the first “Think of the Children” censorship campaigns in modern America, it was a direct response to Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Just like the establishment of the ESRB and MPAA, the CCA was made as an attempt to prevent “Official” government regulation of the industry.

The code was a checklist of requirements for any comic that was to be distributed to newsstand vendors. Here is the code as it started in 1954.

1954 Code criteria

* 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.

It has lost it’s effectiveness over the years as some smaller publishers decided to sell directly to customers, stand alone comics stores sprung up, and children grew up into adults who wanted comics fit for adults. The abandonment really got rolling in 2001 when Marvel officially quit and started their own self rating system modeled after the ESRB. DC comics followed suit and now with Archie comics leaving the thrall (kinda had to as they introduced an openly gay character which is forbidden under the CCA) is there really anyone left who is using the CCA?

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