Indypendently Speaking: Responsible Comic Book Parenting


Responsible Comic Book Parenting.

 

 

I’m not here to judge anybody or to tell anybody how to manage their kids.   I’m actually writing about this because it was something I overlooked and…well got in trouble with the wife over.   That is what happens when you give your 8 year old a stack of comics to read that introduce him to the concepts of porn shops and peep-shows.    Don’t judge though until you understand how this mistake was made.   Then I’ll give you some informative bits and some constructive advice so you don’t end up in the dog house with your spouse as well.

This all started where many adventures for people like us do, the local comic shop.   On our way to Comic Evolution, (home of Creators Edge Press,) I asked my son what characters he wanted to know more about.   I was actually surprised (and impressed) when he said Cloak and Dagger.

I had just recently read the newest one-shot put out by marvel and realized that it wouldn’t really tell him much about the characters origins and such because it seemed to focus more on their relationships and their status in the mutant community.   So I looked through the back issues and found the complete series of Cloak and Dagger Vol. 2 from 1985.   I smiled and remembered reading it when I was a kid.   Unfortunately I didn’t have total recollection of what the first story arc was about, nor considered it when I made the purchase.   I even picked him up the Cloak and Dagger Mini-Mates set that was on the shelf so he could incorporate them into his miniature super hero universe at home.   This was all that could be expected a good father, right?

Over the next couple days my son devoured the books and was talking to me about how cool Cloak and Dagger were.   He told me about how they needed each other and how they worked as a team.   The problem arose when he was telling my wife about Cloak and Dagger and how they were stopping someone from selling kids for sex.   Wha..What?

Yes in the first issue of volume two, C&D intervene in a child pornography ring that was being run out of a pornshop/peep-show theater.   I failed to remember that part of the story when I purchased those books for my son.   My wife failed to be happy with my lack of censorship and consideration.   So I tried to weasel my way out of it by talking about how it was a good lesson for him to learn child pornography and drugs are bad.   She didn’t buy it.

My next move in defense was the good old Comics Code Authority insignia.  

 

I tried to tell her that if it was stamped by that seal then it should be okay for younger readers. This is where I noticed that issue #1 didn’t have the approval stamp….but issue #2 did?

 
 

 

I was always under the impression that Marvel followed the “comic’s code” up until 2001 with few exceptions.   I honestly had no idea that there were books made in the 80’s that didn’t have the stamp.   I didn’t think that there would be such adult themes (nor did I remember) in an 80’s Marvel title.

I have to agree with my wife though.   I don’t think 8 is the appropriate age for a child to be introduced to those concepts.   Maybe 12 or 13 would have been fine, but I had a lot of explaining to do as I fielded uncomfortable questions over the next couple days.   This was more upsetting because I usually only let my son read certain books now with the current rating system Marvel and other companies use it is pretty easy.   Most other comics I have recently read and make a decision there if the themes aren’t suitable.   I read a lot of indie books and I would have to say that 90% of them are not appropriate for my child (or anybody else’s, but that is their parent’s call).

I then started to wonder about books that kids might want to read that don’t have warnings on them.   I imagined grandma going down to the shop with her grandson and a crisp $5 bill to get some funny books.   There are lots to choose from and the store staff can’t be expected to have read every title.   There are some concepts that may look exciting to kids.   I’m going to pick on a favorite of mine by Image now and use Cowboy Ninja Viking as an example.

What kid wouldn’t want to check out something that sounds that awesome?   (If you haven’t checked it out and are of the adult population it is definitely worth checking out.)

So I looked at a recent copy that had a sex scene in it and noticed that the content warning was not on the front cover but on the back.   Who looks at the back cover?   I don’t it is usually just an ad if it isn’t a wrap around cover.

 

 

So I now have to not only read everything before my son does, but I also have to let my wife scan it too.   (Until I prove again that I can be responsible anyway.)   In order to protect my child from content I don’t want them to be exposed to.    Maybe that was a no-brainer and I should have done it in the first place, but I was tricked by my sense of the wholesome 80’s and the “Comic’s Code.”

Think of this as a public service announcement that should have been common sense to me.   Preview things your kids are reading.   No one is going to be responsible for it besides you.   The companies shouldn’t have to, the shops aren’t responsible, and even the rating system may not tailor to your personal beliefs about your child’s maturity.  

My second lesson learned from this would be:   If you aren’t sure your kid should be reading it, then they probably shouldn’t be.   But you can always review it with the other parent and discuss it.   

(CAUTION:   Men you will loose the debate!   You’re a grown man that reads comics how can your opinion be unbiased….or mature…or responsible..?   You get the idea.)    

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