Let’s face it, media censoring has been around for a while. In the past, as soon as any type of media came about whether it was radio or television it always came with a type of censorship or filter. Anything that would be released to the general public was first reviewed by committees for content, often by the government or corporate entities. However, you might be surprised to know that comic books were also under review at one point. The Comics Code Authority was a group of publishers that were a self-regulating entity created to prevent the government from regulating comic books. Created in 1954, it was meant to address overly gory and sexual themes in mainstream comic books that were seen as a problem by the general public without bringing the government into the mix.
Comic books that were approved by the committee harbored this seal.
Although the committee was seeking self-regulation to avoid creative limitations instilled by the government, they instilled some of its own. To many artists and comic book creators, the comics were works of art. The artists in turn felt that their first amendment was being taken away even though certain laws required the regulation of mass mediums. Certain characters and story lines had to be changed just to adhere to a committee which left many comic lines dry. Of those comics Batman was notoriously known for its gory scenes including the death of Bruce Wayne’s and Dick Grayson’s (Robin’s) parents. It was also known for sexual themes involving female characters such as Catwoman who had to be re-written and re-drawn to fit CCA guidelines.
Since comics were thought to be directed towards children they had to fit the mold of what parents deemed appropriate. What the committee failed to realize is that comics garnered audiences of all ages and were more tailored to fit the artist and writer’s needs than those of the audience. Eventually the outcry from comic book publishers and the modern age changing what qualifies as “appropriate” deemed its toll on the CCA. Within the last five years, the CCA has been struck from all comic books spanning from Archie to Marvel and DC. I consider this a very large step in the war on censorship, and hope more battles are won along the way as people begin to realize that art is meant to be seen and not hidden.
What are your thoughts on the CCA? Should comic books be less gory, both in dialogue and art? Should we avoid death in comic books? If we do, what does that say about our outlook on life?