Thursday, January 20, 2011

DC dumps Comics Code

Following a move made by Marvel Comics several years ago, DC is dumping the 56-year-old Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval. Like Marvel, DC will replace the seal with its own on-cover ratings.

Nearly six decades after the industry was pressured into using the CCA seal by the juvenile delinquency scare of the 1950s, I can understand that it may have outlived its usefulness.

But I also feel like today's comics publishing industry may not suitably have its act together enough to operate its own ratings systems. I'm not saying that the publishers shouldn't try doing so, only that they should try harder.

Here's how I see it:

In this age of a zillion different comics titles, parents who want to buy a child a comic featuring Spider-Man, Batman or some other superhero because a kid has seen that character on TV or in his/her Happy Meal, should have some sort of direction as to which of the half-dozen or so Batman or Spidey comics out there is appropriate.

Ratings can help parents navigate through this confusion. But, to do so, the ratings must be clear. I don't think Marvel's really are. For example, Marvel uses an "A" for "all ages." To my mind, "A" could mean "adult." The other letters used also are potentially confusing. Not only that, but parents may not even realize that these letters are intended as ratings. Not that most folks ever knew, past 1954 or so, what the heck the comics seal was, either -- especially as the publishers started running it at a smaller and smaller size.

I think publishers should offer clear guidance on comic book covers as to what age the title is appropriate for. There shouldn't be any wondering necessary by the parent.

Better yet, I wish DC and Marvel would just ensure that all their mainstream superhero titles -- those featuring Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America and the like -- are rated for the same audience. Right now, there are "all ages" Spider-Man, etc., titles and "teen-plus" or even "mature" Spider-Man, etc. titles. This makes no sense to me and likely just turns parents off comics entirely.

In movie terms, I think these titles should be in the "PG" category
: edgy enough to interest teens and adults, but appropriate enough for kids around age 12. There's no sane, or for that matter, commercial,reason that comics featuring such characters should be essentially rated "R" -- at least not if you're going to continue marketing toys featuring that character to young children.

Anyway, that's my view. And here's a look at DC's new rating system:

E – EVERYONE

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

T – TEEN

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

T+ - TEEN PLUS

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

M – MATURE

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

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed! The mainstream titles SHOULD be PG! I haven't read comics since 1998 because of the trash in them. I miss spidey too. I still buy Marvel Essentials to relive the glory days.

Anonymous said...

>
Better yet, I wish DC and Marvel would just ensure that all their mainstream superhero titles -- those featuring Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America and the like -- are rated for the same audience. Right now, there are "all ages" Spider-Man, etc., titles and "teen-plus" or even "mature" Spider-Man, etc. titles. This makes no sense to me and likely just turns parents off comics entirely.
Better idea, let's just make the characters have their own code. Trying to make all characters the same code is a bad idea