A recent issue of Comic Shop News reports that DC Comics “is discontinuing its use of the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval” in favor of their own rating system. Marvel, the other “big name” in comics, dropped the code in 2001 and Archie is joining DC, but they mostly produced kids and family friendly stuff anyway. Apparently this is already known for at least a month online but that tells you how out of it I’ve been lately.
So instead they’ve developed their own self-policing rating system, as Marvel did (and some would say enforcing as questionably as the CCA has) although I have to ask: does it look familiar to you?
Here’s the new rating system if you haven’t heard about it.
- E (Everyone): appropriate for readers of all ages, with only cartoon violence or mischief–probably will only be seen on the “DC Kids/Johnny DC” titles
- T (Teen): appropriate for 12 years and up, with mild violence, mild swearing (probably your damns and hells) and suggested themes (Supergirl’s outfit? OK, kidding)
- T+ (Teen Plus): appropriate for readers 16 and up, with stronger profanity, more graphic imagery (moderate violence) and suggestive themes…your typical DC comic these days
- M (Mature): targeting 18 and up, pretty much the stuff in many Vertigo titles.
This brings a few different questions to mind, such as:
- What does DC consider moderate when kids are blown up while their fathers are being forcibly amputated by guys who get shot in the head by a supposed superhero while other supervillains are brainwashed into morons to cover their time as a serial rapist? Just asking.
- Who WILL be in charge of deciding what deserves these ratings?
- When Marvel instituted their ratings, the level of violence, profanity, and suggestive themes went up. Will DC do the same thing, leaving more young readers behind? (Already the Kids titles have been reduced to six and are still poorly promoted unless there’s a cartoon behind it.)
- Does this rating system seem familiar to anyone else?
Yep, the same for video games with some minor changes. (E+ replaced with T+ and nothing for early childhood–no surprise there–and no adult comics, at least from DC–yet.) Are they that invested in DC Universe Online and the Batman games? Right now there is only one cartoon featuring DC heroes and one TV show. (Wonder Woman will begin after Smallville finally ends.) While they’re putting together a Superman movie, they did cancel a Justice League movie even after Batman’s success and that of Marvel in the theatrical world.
Marvel has its own rating system while some comics have none at all. If you remember my review of Quest For Tomorrow, Bluewater’s comic, I had assumed from the Free Comic Book Day preview that it would be kid-friendly, and then I read the first full issue and it really wasn’t.
I personally favor a rating system, especially with the way the poor job the Authority did, but as Marvel has shown self-policing isn’t a good idea and too many ratings systems will confuse reader or parents who want to avoid certain levels of profanity, violence, and swearing. The industry should agree on a set rating system just as movies, TV, and video games have. Actually, I would like to see all the media types (including music) adopt one system to keep from confusing anybody.
My choice is to follow the MPAA rating system, because after all this time we know exactly what to expect (or at least what we should expect) so everybody can follow it and know what is appropriate for different age groups or tastes. All these different ratings for individual media is confusing enough but now every comic publisher having different systems is just going to make it harder to find comics to create a new generation of readers, which is one of the reasons the industry is in such trouble in the first place. Get your acts together, comic companies!
By the way, the CCA symbol was designed by Ira Schnapp, a logo designer for DC Comics. Interesting, eh?