Canada’s weirdest laws: Selling Batman, Superman comics is illegal

The Criminal Code of Canada forbids anyone from making, printing, publishing, distributing, selling or even owning a crime comic.
The Criminal Code of Canada forbids anyone from making, printing, publishing, distributing, selling or even owning a crime comic. (Photo: iStock)

Holy ridiculous law, Batman! They don’t allow you to sell crime comics in Canada?

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to scare the queen

That’s right Robin! The Criminal Code of Canada forbids anyone from making, printing, publishing, distributing, selling or even owning a crime comic.

This law is found under the “Offences Tending to Corrupt Morals” section, with other gems such as committing an offence for publicly exhibiting “a disgusting object or an indecent show”.

If having this law on the books makes it seem like you have fallen through a rabbit hole back into the 1940’s, you’re not wrong.

The law originated, for once not from Great Britain but rather the United States. In the 1940’s, a wave of crime comics came out in the U.S. that were quite violent. The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency claimed that the comics were making juveniles violent and began to regulate the industry.

Canada was not unaffected by what happened in the U.S. as we got a law forbidding these types of comics in 1949.

What is a considered a crime comic though?

The Criminal Code answers that question by saying that a crime comic is “a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially:

  • The commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or
  • Events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.”

Is this section really being enforced?

Not really as there are quite a few comic book shops in Canada selling comic books, including those that are considered “crime comics.”

In fact, the last time charges were laid against a person for this “crime” was in 1987, and the charges were later changed to distributing sexually explicit material.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: You can be arrested for an 'immoral' theatrical performance

Needless to say, comic book shop owners likely need not be worried their “contraband” will be seized by law enforcement any time soon, which incidentally is the punishment for possessing a “crime comic.”

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