DC says Comic is 'Unacceptable'
September 11, 2008

This week, DC recalled one of their books.  For extremely offensive word use.  Apparently, they attempted to black out the words, but in the final analysis apparently you can still read them.  So now they are being recalled.

I’m not going to dwell on what the words were, that has been done by others, but this event begs the question, how did it get that far?  Is it not someone’s job to monitor the content so that this does not happen?  Would that not be the editor?  Or in this day and age is the Editor really a coordiantor, making sure the script gets to the artist, the art gets from the penciller to the inker, the pages from the colorist to the letterer?

Whatever their role, someone at DC allowed a story with objectionable language to get to print.  Was it too much work to stop it in mid development?  Shouldn’t there be somone who reads the script and reviews the story at each step to make sure it is ‘acceptable’?  Maybe there was before, but these days, I doubt it.  Why?  Because over the past decade or so, the stories have taken on a darker tone, a scary twist, some titles have become horror stories.

Green Lantern: girlfriend killed and put in the refridgerator.  I was not reading the book at the time and only found out when I bought a bunch of back issues.
Green Arrow: Onomotapia is introduced by several graphic scenes of him killing unknown vigilantes.  To my knowledge, he was never cought.
Green Arrow: Black Lightning’s niece is introduced and hung to death within a single six issue story.
JSA 1: Mr. America’s entire extended family is killed off in bloody panels.
Tangent Superman’s Reign: two security guards killed in issue 1.  One is shot, the other has his head cut off.
Birds of Prey: A teleported character explodes.
Green Lantern Corps: right now: the villain is killing off the family members of GLC  members and sending their eyeballs to Corps on the planet OA.  just gross.
I used to read comics to escape the real world.  This is not an escape, its a nightmare.

So, where are the story cops?  The people whose job it is to keep the stories within certain boundaries of good taste?  I think we’ve seen this week that they do not exist.  Its sad.  DC could sell me several more comics each month if they were not filled with over the top gore.  As it is, I pick up a title I am interested in, and in the case of Tangent Superman’s Reign, I was going to buy it.  Flipping through I saw the security guard get his head cut off.  That killed the whole series right there.  I have to assume that this level of violence, which I find unacceptable will be repeated, so I decided then and there not to buy the entire series.  12 comics unsold because 1 scene was chosen to be portrayad in an over the top gory way.  I had to drop Green Arrow’s book.  After the hanging of Black Lightning’s niece I could’t take it any more.  My favorite hero, but I could no longer buy his book.  I had already dropped Nightwing and Batgirl as too gory.  Hawkman I dropped after they showed a mans head in a pot and his body on the next page.  JSA #1, I read and took back to the store.  I will not pick up the series.  Identity Crisis introduced rape to the comics.  Did it need to be here?  I think not.

This kind of stuff is not necessary.  Good stories can be written which involve suspence and danger without blood on every other page and dead bodies thrown around.  Editors, do your job, stop the bad ideas before the reach print.  And I’ll do mine, I’ll buy the books if you keep the blood and gore to a minimum and end the human mutilation.  I’m not here to read CSI.  I’m here to read about the heroes saving the people BEFORE the people die.

Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.

 

 

 

38 Comments »

  • Robiwan says:

    PS Every parent I have spoken with and warned in these stores has expressed surprise at the content, and gratitude that I said something.

    -R

  • Assemblerforever says:

    What was the comic that started this thread?

  • “I have to respectfully disagree with you. Kids do buy and read them.”
    Disagreeing doesn’t make that statement any less accurate. Ask any industry writer, any editor, or the owner of any LCS. I didn’t say that no kid anywhere ever picks up a comic; that I was speaking in general terms was obvious. Comic books are not at all popular with children, and isolated instances of you seeing kids pick up comics at Barnes & Noble doesn’t change that cold, hard fact. If that wasn’t the case, DC and Marvel would have more titles aimed at kids. You think those guys don’t know who their audience is?

    And yes, the responsibility absolutely *does* fall upon parents to monitor what their kids are doing, reading, playing, or watching. I don’t have kids, I don’t ever want kids, and I don’t even care much for being around most of them. It’s not my problem, and saying content producers shouldn’t publish “mainstream” comics for the majority of people who actually buy them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Depriving the rest of us of the entertainment we want so parents don’t have to pay attention to what their kids are doing would be a lazy non-solution. Passing the buck to others when it comes to regulating what your kid reads doesn’t strike me as a great parenting style, either. There is nothing “respectful” about saying publishers in any medium should cater to your desires exclusively. It wouldn’t exactly be “respectful” if I said, “All companies should stop producing entertainment options that most parents would deem appropriate for children, because I don’t personally like it. All comic books, movies, and television should be for adults only.”

    And you’re an adult. It only stands to reason that you would read or watch something more mature than what is appropriate for a thirteen-year-old.

  • DanMan says:

    It seems odd to me that a comic pulled for language starts a screed against violence in comics. I guess you can just go by the old saying “buy what you like.” Personally, I think comics are better than ever and I love the selection of stuff that’s available today.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    My overriding issue is that DC stated upon the death of Blue Beetle Ted Kord and the end of Young Justice that there was NO room at DC for comics like that in their mainstream.

    There should always be room for the whole spectrum, so that I can buy an engaging story without the gore. Tiny Titans is fine for young kids, but the recently cancelled Teen Titans Go was better for slightly older children. And beyond that, as an adult, I should be able to find a variety of more detailed story without the gore. Vertigo has long created content that goes beyond what is in the DCU.

    I’ve given up on the Bat family of books. Resigned myself to the idea that they are not for me. But I’d still like to be able to read Justice League, Titans, Superman/Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Which takes us back to, do we really need a story like the current one in GLCorps where the killer is sending the eyeballs of his victims to the heroes? Not if DC wants my money.

  • Robiwan says:

    Mine either and if stats say kids are not buying comics, perhaps many parents are doing a better job policing the content their kids read than I thought. I know with my son, he is not interested in the kiddie lines because the art is not on par with the mainstream comics. Also, the writing is not as complex as the mainstream books so he gets bored with it. He sometimes enjoys the Marvel Adventures lines but we both wish there were more mainstream books that were appropriate.

    As for the use of the word, ‘respectfully,’ in my previous post, Caped Crusader, that was intended to communicate that I respected you as a person thought your opinion is obviously different from mine. Frankly, the intent was to keep the discussion friendly. Apparently I did not communicate well enough.

    -R

  • Davy (stonehd) says:

    Too often the “all ages” tag gets thrown around without regard for what ages we’re talking about. But 8-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and 14-year-olds are very different creatures, and even two kids of the same age can be completely different, so the parents’ involvement is critical. With parental supervision, I can honestly think of very little in mainstream comics today I’d keep from a 14-year-old. And those things that are inappropriate, it would be my responsibility to know what my kid was reading. Honestly, I’d be more likely to keep a 10-year-old from watching mindless trash like Hanna Montana than reading a mainstream comic. That crap will rot your mind!

    There are many standards for what’s acceptable for kids, not universal ones. I’d WANT my kids to be exposed to gays and lesbians in comics to learn that gay people are normal, happy, contributing members of society, with dreams and problems just like everyone else. But too many parents find that ultimately more offensive than the violence about which you speak. So who wins out? Which approach is all-ages friendly? What do you think about Greedo shooting first in episode IV, ’cause “protecting the children” was ultimately what that decision was about. Are you guys okay with that, then? Thought not.

    Being a parent is a lot of work, for sure, but we shouldn’t sanitize comics because someone either doesn’t want to keep track of what their kids are reading or because they want everything to be like it was in their good ol’ days. I’d hate to go back to some time when the “adult” books were kept behind the counter with their covers hidden in order to protect the kiddies from seeing the same blood, sex, language and violence they can see everyday in so many PG-13 movies (like the Dark Knight). Should the Dark Knight have been sanitized to be more kid friendly despite the fact that the general consensus is that it’s pretty friggin’ brilliant as is?

    We can have adult comics, young-adult comics, and kids comics in the same way the fiction industry has all those categories, and more. But the more we ourselves scream “OHHHH NOOOES! COMICS IS FOR KIDZ ONLY!!!”, the more we undercut the progress the medium has made in the past 20 years. It may disappoint them, but it’s okay to tell your kids, “this comic daddy likes isn’t right for you yet. You can read it in a few years. Here’s one you will enjoy.” Or better yet, take your kid to the comic shop and help them pick out a book appropriate for them (giving you bonding time and a chance to teach your kids WHY you feel certain comics aren’t for them). You can do it. And there are good, all-ages books out there, even if you yourself are not reading them.

    While I was quite pissed that Teen Titans Go! was canceled, I can’t deny that DC’s kid’s books are the best they’ve ever been. Tiny Titans and Billy Batson are two of DC’s best, wittiest books, no matter what age you are (the parent-teacher conferences in Tiny Titans was brilliant this week). The recent Superman/Batman issue featuring the Lil’ Leaguers was a hoot! (loved Lil’ Supes and Lil’ Bats origins). Perhapanauts, Invincible, Jeff Smith’s Monster Society of Evil, Franklin Richards, Power Pack, Blue Beetle… all excellent books. Try ‘em some times, and share them with your kids.

  • MisterPL says:

    Would it kill DC to slap a “Recommended for Mature Readers” tag on the cover? I mean, this is “All Star Batman & ROBIN the BOY Wonder.” Even the title features a character DESIGNED to appeal to kids.

  • “Personally, I think comics are better than ever and I love the selection of stuff that’s available today.”
    Agreed 100%.

    “Mine either and if stats say kids are not buying comics, perhaps many parents are doing a better job policing the content their kids read than I thought.”
    Well, that would be one way of looking at it. The other, more realistic way, would be that comics have a LOT more competition than they did when we were kids, and children are just interested in other things.

    “I know with my son, he is not interested in the kiddie lines because the art is not on par with the mainstream comics. Also, the writing is not as complex as the mainstream books so he gets bored with it.”
    Of course not. The books don’t sell well at all, so paying for writing and artwork on par with what does sell is out of the question. Why should DC, Marvel, or any other publisher take a financial loss just to meet one person’s standards of what is “appropriate”?

    Some parents want Harry Potter books banned, because they believe stories about magic will make children worship the devil and do all sorts of awful things. Where do you draw the line?

    “As for the use of the word, ‘respectfully,’ in my previous post, Caped Crusader, that was intended to communicate that I respected you as a person thought your opinion is obviously different from mine. Frankly, the intent was to keep the discussion friendly. Apparently I did not communicate well enough.”
    You mean keep it friendly, except for the part where you say, “I wish there were only a few special titles that you would enjoy, so that nothing I find offensive was available on mainstream comic racks.” Sorry, but I don’t find a desire to take away my choices to be very friendly. I disagree with superfriend, but we both agree that there should be OPTIONS available for everyone. Finding middle ground is pretty easy when people are being respectful and friendly; I don’t find what you’re saying to be either.

  • Robiwan says:

    I believe you misunderstood my point. The point was never to take things away from people. The point was to make the mainstream ‘more friendly,’ to a broader audience. I don’t see how toning down some of the gore, skin, language, etc. alienates or excludes people provided the stories are good. Putting them in does alienate IMO, a larger demographic than one might expect.

    -R

  • I no longer read comics for some of the very reasons you listed. I loved comics as a kid and I enjoyed the escapeism of it all. That is no longer the case. The final straw for me was the Cyclops/White queen affair and the disconnection brought on by Grant Moorison. Comics just were not any fun anymore for me.
    I wont even offer comics to any of my kids due to them being so dark. I try to sheild my kids from alot of the things in the real world until I feel they are ready…if I wanted them to see all the violence and crime played out in comics…I could just turn on the news.

  • Johnny Foodmaster says:

    I have to admit that I was pretty stunned by the rape of Sue Dibny. I didn’t really have anything invested in those characters because I was fairly new to DC, but I thought it was unecessary. I would much rather read cheesy 70s or even 60s super hero books than alot of the books out now because I like campy heroes and villians better.

  • Kids buy and read comics? Really? Maybe kids with outstanding allowances. Come on, most adults can barely afford them. I think, like any literature, look and see what your kid is reading and judge accordingly. Of course I wouldn’t have my daughter reading the Infinite Crisis until she’s older, but I would be heartsick to have not had it available to me. It is censorship, you are just talking about the censorship taking place at the editor’s desk. Just the thoughts of a comic loving mom who enjoys Frank Miller and where DC is going. I know that with a lot of the violence has come some amazing female heroes that you just don’t see in the 60′s and 70′s back issues. Yeah they are entertaining, but, as a women, they are weak in strong women.

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