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Prior to the introduction of the Comics Code Authority, nothing was prohibited. When the code was implemented in the 1950s, it set down a plethora of specific restrictions against instances of sex and sexuality in comic books:

  • All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  • Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  • Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  • Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
  • Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Rape scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
  • Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  • Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
  • Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.

By the early 80s, DC had distanced itself from the Comics Code. When DC hired Alan Moore to work on Swamp Thing, his acclaimed horror writing progressed to a stage at which DC decided to implement a "For Mature Readers" label for its more adult-oriented books depicting violence and nudity while dealing with more mature subject matter. This label allowed for artists to be less subtle when it came to depictions of sex in comics. While nudity and sex were largely implied rather than graphically depicted, the label allowed for more mainstream comics to depict and discuss sex on-panel.
In 1993, DC launched its Vertigo imprint, whose stable of titles were allowed to address nearly any subject without restriction. As a result, sex and other adult themes were standard fare at Vertigo, while instances of on-panel sex remained rare in the mainstream DC Universe.

On-Panel Instances of Sex

Related Articles

  • Rape: non-consensual sex.


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