Long Term Impacts Title
Origin Story
Calls for Censorship
Short Term Impacts
Long Term Impacts
Printed Materials

Long Term Impacts

Stan Lee, Spiderman, and Drugs

​​​​​​​Attempt at censorship in a long lasting medium like comics was destined to be challenged. A notable revision of the comics code was in 1971, brought on by Marvel Comics' Spider-Man. Before this event, one of the requirements for a CCA approved comic was no mention of drugs whatsoever. Stan Lee was the creator of Spider-Man and writer of the 'Amazing Spider-Man' at the time. He was sought out by a National Institute of Mental Health official about including an anti-drug storyline in the Spider-Man comic. Stan Lee said "yes" and printed the storyline in issues 96, 97, and 98 of the comic without the stamp of approval. ​​​​​

Video clip from "With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story"

(“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” Youtube, uploaded by Youtube Movies & Shows, 15 Oct. 2018)

The 1971 Revision

After Stan Lee’s act of defiance, the code was revised to allow mention of drugs as long as they were framed in a negative light. This 1971 revision also lifted the ban on horror comics. ​​​​​​​

Abandoning the CMAA

As time went on, companies found ways to bypass the code altogether. In the late 1970s, independently published or 'underground' comics started popping up. These comics would side step the wholesaler and go straight to the shelves through distributors. No longer needing to abide by the CMAA, companies started to drop out of the organization. DC and Archie were last to go in 2011. ​​​​​​​


Censorship is enacted because of fear. In recent history, fear of media influence on young minds culminates in outcries against music, movies, video games, and social media. The fear of juvenile delinquency that permeated throughout 1950s America, powered the debate against comics. Fear of losing their business, and control over their medium, pushed publishers to unify and create the CCA. The fall of the CCA, demonstrates how conditional the diplomatic solution was. As the decades passed the cultural norms changed and concern over comics faded, resulting in the code eroding away.