Friday, February 26, 2010

The "gross comics" debate


Over on the Comics UK forum we've been having a discussion about the use of "gross humour" in today's British comics. My stance being that such comedy reflects modern tastes (or tastelessness if you like) and is inoffensive. In my own work, such as the example from this week's Team Toxic above, I exaggerate the scenes to such a degree that I find it difficult to see how it could offend. Mushroom-cloud farts that melt lamp posts, people fleeing in sheer terror, - surely it's just harmless fun?

Response to such humour in Toxic has been good from the age it's aimed at, - the children, - but some adults seem to disapprove, even though they don't actually buy the comic in question. Personally I feel that if children's comics work for the generation they're targeted at then they must be doing something right. Whether or not the comics disinterest older generations is irrelevant as they're not aimed at those people. Toxic has been around for nearly eight years now and still manages to sell around 47,000 copies an issue. That's more than most individual American comic titles sell across the whole of the USA.

Anyway, that's just my opinion. If you want to read other points of view have a look at the discussion over at:
http://www.comicsuk.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3409

Sadly along the way the topic turns into yet another Dandy-bashing thread (a popular sport on Comics UK for some reason) but all in all it's an interesting debate. What I found curious was that the fiercest opponents of showing farting in comics said they thought publicly passing wind was funny if it happened in real life. My thoughts are just the opposite: I find it vulgar and immature when people break wind in public, but just harmless fun in the pages of a comic.

Incidentally, if you want to see the two panels above in their proper context within a two page strip, pick up the latest issue of Toxic out now!

12 comments:

Stingray said...

Those reactions are typical of people who never read the comics of which they complain.

Snafu6 said...

I visited the comics board. Are you sure those people are adults? Some of them come across sort of like kids saying what they think an adult would say. I mean come on, those comics are well o.t.t. and funny!!! Perhaps they should unclench a little, pun intended.

Anonymous said...

I dispair when I see how far toxic has fallen the original with marshal law was tops.

Andy Ardonia said...

This reminds me of the kerfuffle over Oink in the 80s. I think that this has always been an issue with comics (even going back as far as the old EC comics and the creation of the Comics Code Authorities). Then, just as now it's adults who don't read the comics that are complaining.

@anon I think that's a different Toxic comic. (I think you're mixing up the current toxic with the one with Marshall Law and Accident Man etc)

Lew Stringer said...

I think part of the problem is that collectors don't always step back and see the big picture. They compare today's comics to ones they read 20 or 30 years ago and are annoyed by the changes. Comics have ALWAYS changed to suit each generation.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Lew,

We only need to check out the work of Ken Reid, Tom Patterson and their ilk to see that even "back in the day" this kind of silly humour was prevalent in the comics of the day.

Stuff, which by today's idiotic PC standards would never be allowed.

It always amazes me that folks don't want kids to see this kind of stuff in comics and yet let them watch all manner of stuff on TV, even graphic depictions and descriptions on news programmes before the watershed.

Great posts here as always too.

I'll certainly be showing my Dad your previous one, when he comes up.

Best,
Tim...
(''j)

Lew Stringer said...

I dunno Tim. I think the fact we CAN put such "gross humour" in comics today shows that they're NOT as Politically Correct as some think.

I think the work of Ken Reid and Tom Paterson would be welcomed in today's comics. It's not so much Political Correctness but more a case of management forgetting they own such material. (Or in the case of Ken Reid's Nervs strips, an editor in 1969 deciding it wasn't suitable for IPC's tamer comics, and those strips now being owned by Time Warner who seem to have no intention to use them presumably because they don't know how to market British comedy.)

Anonymous said...

@andy yes I know it's a different Toxic that's why I said it's not as good as the original

Lew Stringer said...

Anon, Egmont's Toxic is aimed at a much younger reader than the original Toxic, so naturally adults will find it less appealing.

gtc said...

What offends me is media that talks down to children or offers substandard fare in the belief that kids won't know any better.

Toxic seems like one of the good guys in this respect.

Paul, Adam and David Hutton said...

If you want a child's p.o.v. on this I can report that my two lads have gone off Toxic recently because "Some stories are just about people being sick or upsetting people". They love Team Toxic but they don't care for the new strips that have joined the magazine.

It appears that even gross humour has a limited appeal to kids who like that sort of thing.

Lew Stringer said...

Interesting. Thanks for that. Sadly, Team Toxic goes reprint from the next issue.

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