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The Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP) was an American industry trade group formed July 1, 1948 to regulate the content of comic books in the face of increasing public criticism. Founding members included publishers Leverett Gleason of Lev Gleason Publications, Bill Gaines of EC Comics, Harold Moore (publisher of Famous Funnies) and Rae Herman of Orbit Publications. Henry Schultz served as executive director.

The ACMP was formed after a storm of criticism broke out around comic books, reflected in city ordinances banning some publications and the charges brought by child psychologist Fredric Wertham in his 1948 articles in Collier's Weekly ("Horror in the Nursery") and the American Journal of Psychotherapy (“The Psychopathology of Comic Books”) that comic books were "abnormally sexually aggressive" and led to crime. In December, Time reported a public comic book burning in Binghamton, New York.[1]

In 1948, the association released their "Publishers Code," drawing on the Hollywood Production Code (better known as the "Hays Code"), which had also been drafted to stave off external regulation. Like the Production Code, it forbid portrayals of crime that might "throw sympathy against the law" or "weaken respect for established authority," and prohibited "ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group." "Sexy, wanton comics" were not to be published, and divorce was not to be "treated humorously or represented as glamourous or alluring."

Comics that complied with the code were offered a "Seal of Approval." The code, however, was not a success, ignored by both large and small publishers. Some publishers, such as Dell Comics, refused to join the organization. Others, such as founding member EC Comics, terminated their participation. Those who continued as members made use of the ACMP seal of approval without any formal process of review. Describing the situation in 1950, Director Schultz said: "The association, I would say, is out of business and so is the code." [2] Nevertheless, comics continued to be printed with the association's seal for the next few years.

In 1954, a mounting tide of criticism, including a new book by Wertham (Seduction of the Innocent) and congressional hearings, spurred the formation of the ACMP's successor, the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA). The ACMP Publishers Code served as the template for a more detailed set of rules enforced by the CMAA's Comics Code Authority.

ACMP Publishers Code of 1948

  1. Sexy, wanton comics should not be published. No drawing should show a female indecently or unduly exposed, and in no event more nude than in a bathing suit commonly worn in the United States of America.
  2. Crime should not be presented in such a way as to throw sympathy against the law and justice or to inspire others with the desire for imitation. No comics shall show the details and methods of a crime committed by a youth. Policemen, judges, Government officials, and respected institutions should not be portrayed as stupid, ineffective, or represented in such a way to weaken respect for established authority.
  3. No scenes of sadistic torture should be shown.
  4. Vulgar and obscene language should never be used. Slang should be kept to a minimum and used only when essential to the story.
  5. Divorce should not be treated humorously or represented as glamorous or alluring.
  6. Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.

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