Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not to be Sold to Minors ... Or Anyone Else

It used to be that comic books were thought as a child's medium. These days it's fortunate if you can get anyone to remember they exist. Because some comic books used to be geared to children, the entire industry was lumped into that. If it had sequential illustrations and used word balloons to convey dialogue, it was for children.

Comic book readers know that just was not the case. And these days, comics that aren't meant for children are the norm, and a child's comic is as rare as an unbiased Fox newscast.

I have no problem with comic books geared to children. I also have have no problem with comic books meant to appeal to adults. What I do have an issue with is people who think adult comics (whether or not they are porn or just have a more complex storyline) should not exist. Having worked in a few different comic book stores, I have encountered those people (often parents, not very often comic book readers).

These unenlightened souls would come into the store and pick up a comic book that looked like it appealed to them -- an adult. As soon as they saw it was for an adult (which is why they picked it up in the first place), they would put it back and say, "They shouldn't sell these things to kids or anyone else." I would have to correct them and state that we don't sell them to kids, but it would be pointless to argue. The mature-subject matter book that appealed to them because they were an adult should not be made for adults or anyone else, and that was that.

It always pained me to see those people with children. It made me wonder what they were teaching those kids.

When I worked the stores in various capacities, I was careful as to what I sold. Comic book store owners and employees often find themselves to be targets to zealots looking to burn a cross or two on the medium's lawn. I never had any incidents where angry parents came back demanding a refund because I sold their sixteen-year-old a Preacher issue, but it was always at the back of my mind.

When a person decided to get into a more in-depth discussion with me about why those comic books should not exist, I was quick to point out that there were novels meant for adults and novels meant for children, but nobody was arguing that adult novels shouldn't exist. Somehow they never got it. Comic books, they said, are different.

No. They are not.

Comic books are an equally valuable entertainment and artistic choice. They enlighten, amuse and educate. To say that comics geared to adults should not be published is akin to saying you don't want to be challenged by any sort of artistic medium. The statement is a badge of ignorance, and far too many adults wear it with pride.

And want to know the kicker? Even if a child had somehow become exposed to a comic book meant for an adult, guess what would happen? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yes, there would be questions. It's a parents job to answer those things whether or not you are ready to. But I have never seen anything in any adult comic book that would either scar a child for life or flat out destroy them.

Adults are sometimes bigger children than the children they are supposed to support. It's a frightening thought, but that was just your average day in the comic book store.

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