Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thought For The Day!

American Virgin 7
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
At my local comic book shop, the retailer decided that the cover for American Virgin #7 was offensive and put it behind the counter. This meant that subscribers and customers had to request it if they wanted to purchase it.

I have the cover here, and it shows two girls ready to kiss. I can understand that maybe the shop owner didn't want younger kids to see it. He has young teenage children of his own.

My question is this though: Why put this particular book behind the counter, but leave out books like last month's 100 Bullets, which featured violence and boobs, or The Boys #3, which came in today and pictured naked man behind?

For the record, I don't have a problem with adult content; after all, I am all grown up and can make my own buying decisions. I just found it odd that one book would be hidden while the others are left out on the counter for anyone to page through.

I was going to ask my retailer about it today, but he was busy helping several sports card customers.



John Holland said...


Carl said...

Welp, I'm way behind (no pun intended) on 100 Bullets (like a whole graphic novel's worth or more) and I didn't make to the shop today, so I didn't see "The Boys". Which I probably wasn't going to buy anyway. Butttttttt, that dealer should be careful period. Right after we moved down here there was some mass paranioa after a dealer was busted for selling an "adult" comic to a child I believe in St. Pete. My dealer usually puts another board on the front, seals the bag completely and has that you have to be 21 or older to see the issue. And if it's really bad, behind the counter. Truthfully, I think a lot of times it's if they catch it too. I remember one time coming in and it was a big week and they just put everything out on the new shelf. I looked at one either IDW or other hardcore indy horror book and saw that there was (kind of in the background) a nude guy with his dork hanging out. Sure, he was torn to pieces and such, but there it was. I pointed out to Scott and he let out a "OMG!!!" and double-taped and bagged it. Of course, then again maybe the guy doesn't like punk/goth lesbians?

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

lets not even get started on the bizarre culture of violence and puritanical sex that we live. As the father of two girls I would much rather have them asking me questions a bout why two people would kiss than why one would blow the other away with a shotgun.

Perhaps it is also depends on the skill with which the art is rendered. The cover of American Virgin is well done, and rather sexy. The art in the Boys is crude and reflects nothing that the sports card customers haven't seen in the locker room before. I sometimes think that bad art doesn't get the shock value that some of the artists would prefer simply because it isn't very effective. Good art engages our eye and if it happens to have an image that we dislike we find ourselves disagreeing with it strongly. good art is effective.

lesbians have become such a part of the landscape in so many places, and females of most ages are far more touchy-feely and/or likely to show physical affection for each other that I think that the shock value has worn off.

but clearly I'm wrong.

James Meeley said...

I think it's sort of a mix between what Charles and Carl think.

I agree with Charles that it's certainly how well the material, whatever it might be, is presented. The cover shown here is very well done, which leaves little room of doubt for what the intention and meaning is. Other times, such meanings can be quite murky, given the skill (or lack thereof) of the artist.

And Carl's right that retailers do need to be careful, especially today where a simple mistake, like in the case of retailer Gordon Lee, can have you in legal battles for quite some time. And canned responses to this, like johnh985's, certainly do nothing to make the matter any easier. It becomes a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

Ultimately, all of this should fall to the parents, but with an interfering Government, who seems all to eager to stick their noses into "peronal family matters" and so many parents who are willing to let them do so, just so they don't have to deal with the people they've brought into this world, it rarely works out that way.

And Charles, the only thing I'll say to your question of why sex is seen as more taboo than violence, is that, IMO, sex is a much more private and personal thing (or it should be). You yourself even suggest as much, by stating you'd rather explain a sexual matter to your children, than a violent one.

It does seem rather lopsided, when you stop and think about it, but it is how we are choosing to be as people and a society.

Just one fan's thoughts.

Heidi Meeley said...

John, I was thinking a bit of that myself at first. Then I thought about it a bit more, and am pretty sure that it is driven mostly by the fact that his 15 and 12 year old kids come into the shop pretty regularly. I notice that the owner has been very agressive about taking objectionable covers off the counter immediately.

Good thought!

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl- I think it is interesting how each shop handles the adult themed books a bit differently.

At the store I go to, there isn't a "behind the counter" display or anything of the like for the mature stuff. Usually on Wednesdays, the books just lay out, and by Friday they are ALL bagged and put out.

I can totally understand not wanting to have a young kid see something objectionable, so putting the books with an extra board like your dealer does makes sense.

Sometimes these books get missed, like at your shop, and it's a "holy crap" moment. Yikes!

It is interesting to me though that right out of the box, the cover in question is hidden away, while books with inner content are put out for all to see.

Heidi Meeley said...

Ink- it is truly bizarre to live in a culture where violence is considered more acceptable then sexual content in printed material, as well as in visual media. Two years after the fact, there is still a hub-bub over the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction".

As to the comic book cover, I was really surprised to see it so swiftly removed. I thought the cover was beautiful, and a bit whimsical. Maybe it is the town I live in; or maybe it is the regular presence of the owner's children in the shop. I am not sure, and had really wanted to talk to the owner about it, just out of curiousity.

I think it boils down to a parent having the right to raise a child as they see fit. What bewilders me is when adults choose to select how another parent raises their kids. In my mind, if you have children, it is your sacred trust to raise them as your morals and conscience dictate, and hopefully make them well-adjusted adults.

I appreciate the fact that you want to talk to your children about what they see. It is absolutely your right to do so. I really admire that you are concerned and want to be involved.

Thank you for your comments!

RedheadFangirl said...

This conversation reminds me of Brian K. Vaughan on a panel about Ex Machina regarding sex and violence in comics. He basically said that while he's never even been in a fistfight, he has seen boobs before, in a much funnier and poignant way...

John Holland said...

Ok, I should extend on my comment here. I didn't mean this to sound like a "canned comment" and I apologize to any that took it like that. It was me asking if anyone felt like this could be the reason. I should have went into more depth with my comment, a one word comment like this does make it seem kind of flip, which is not what I meant.

Before I go farther I understand and realize that retailers have a tough job of walking this mine field. I don't begrudge any retailer for making a decision for putting a comic behind their counter. They live in their community and know what will or will not cause troubles. It's their lively hood on the line.

Now to more of what I meant. In the original post it was asked why a comic with two girls about to kiss could be put behind the cover when other books with more overtly violence and sex could be left out in the open. The biggest difference I could see was that the other sex was not same sex. The Boys is close to pretty graphic in some scene in their new comic, but from what I gather it wasn't put behind the counter. Why?

When the only difference is one features sex between a man and woman and the other sex between two women I have to wonder if there isn't an indication of homophobia. Perhaps not on the part of the shop owner, he may just know his customers and realize how they will react.

Ok, this is getting to be way too long an answer, but I just really felt bad that some took my first post as more of a flip answer, when it wasn't meant to be. But that's my own fault for making it seem like it.

Hope this clears things up some.

James Meeley said...


As the one who noted your first response as "canned", let me thank you for clarifying your thoughts.

Of course, homophobia could always be a possibility in a matter like this, but as one who's felt the sting of such labels, due to people seeing anything that remotely looks to be against homosexuality equaling homophobia on that person's part, it just bothered me that someone would just jump to that possibility, without even suggesting or thinking of any other.

I'm glad that, despite how your first response came across to me, you are not like that.

As for AV vs. The Boys, well, the only defense I could give for the retailer in this case, is simply that they can't read everything. The scene in The Boys was inside the issue, while AV put it right on the cover. That would make it much harder to miss that type of material in AV's case.

I've often thought that a unified rating system for comics, much like we have for movies, would be a good idea. I know people might see that as censorship, but really it isn't. No one is stopping a work from being produced. You can create whatever you want. A unified rating system would simply give parents and retailers the information they need to make sure inappropriate materials stay out of the wrong hands.

Just because a movie is rated "R" or "NC-17" doesn't stop people from seeing it (in fact, in some cases, it encourages more to want to view it). Neither would a similar system stop a comic from being published. And since the Comics Code Authority has no teeth anymore, this industry has been in sore need of something to give parents and retailers the information they need to make the right choices.

It's the lack of retailers (and parents) being able to read everything, that issues like this happen. A unified rating system for comics would solve this easily.

Heidi Meeley said...

John, I actually kinda thought the one word response was humorous, so my hubby and I differ there. I do appreciate the fact that you came back and clarified. I think that is really nice.

I still have yet to talk to the shop owner, but if I had to pinpoint the reason for his actions, I would point it at the fact that he is the father of young teenagers, and didn't want them to see the cover. As a parent, it is well within his rights; as a shop owner, I don't know. That is not so easy.

I do believe that the owner does have certain rights and privileges. It would ease my mind a bit to see more consistency.