This Is How Stan Lee Broke The Comic Book Authority Code, Changing The Medium Forever

Today he would have been 100 years old none other than Stan Lee, legend of the world of comics and creator of characters such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Thor or Iron Man, who decades later are still news. Died in 2018, Lee’s life gave rise to many anecdotes and one of them is the one we are going to tell today, evoking how he was able to circumvent the strict control of the CCA (Comic Code Authority) , which regulated comic book content in the United States.

What is the CEC?

This code was nothing more than a sort of stamp of approval that stopped appearing in 2011, and which for 60 years was the sign that the censors of the Comics and Magazine Association of America gave fire green on release. Such was the point of importance of this seal that without it, nothing would be published.

There is no doubt that in an extremely conservative society like the United States, and even more so in the middle of the 20th century, it was not easy to obtain that CCA seal, especially in a young medium like comics. To make matters worse, the comic has been frequently accused of propagating inappropriate values ​​for American youth, with teachers and the Catholic Church at the forefront of this intolerance.

The rules were clear: no sex, drugs, blood, gunfire, excessive religion or violence, no foul language or disrespect for authority figures. The heroes weren’t even allowed to suffer defeat at the hands of the villains, as well as the presence of supernatural antagonists such as vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like… In short, if you wanted to publish a comic in 20th century America, it had to be extremely neat.

This is how Lee got up

Obviously, in the middle of it all was Stan Lee. He always knew how to push the limit, without reaching it, to always obtain that seal of the CCA, finding new ways to tell stories that otherwise would not have reached young people. So much so that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare contacted him to create a comic strip aimed at raising awareness of the effects of drugs, recognizing the impact that comic strips and characters like Spider -Man had on young Americans.

Stan Lee

In this way, and from issue 96 to 98 of The Amazing Spider-Man, Lee developed a subplot in which the wall-crawler saved the life of a man who, under the influence of drugs, was dancing on a roof and was about to fall into the void. The whole time he was fighting the Green Goblin and showing him how pill abuse affected his son, Harry Osborn. As we can imagine, the CEC denied the story, but Lee argued that it was hard to talk about the effects of the drug without mentioning them.

Despite this, Lee was unintimidated and decided to launch the comic without the CCA seal, having the expected success when something is released without the approval of censorship bodies. After the release of this comic, the CEC revised the conditions for granting its seal and was more lax on drug use, as long as it was negatively exposed.

This Is How Stan Lee Broke The Comic Book Authority Code, Changing The Medium Forever