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Nudity and swearing?, Nudity and swearing?
Mike_W
post Dec 15 2009, 02:58 PM
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Nudity and Swearing . . . OK, just picked up my first issue of HEAVY METAL in like 15 years . . . why did I feel like I had to keep my head down and like I was buying a Playboy?

With the success of shows on HBO and SHOWTIME like the Sapranos, True Blood, Dexter, Californication, Rome, Deadwood . . . to name a few . . . why aren't more comics being created for what I would imagine are mature readers who are buying the books?

I'm working on my own book and find myself typing "*#$^" in stead of swearing, and have no naked people . . . do i need too? . . . would i be dooming my book if we did?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV42Ev-s8D0

I realize we can't see Mary Jane and Peter full frontal between the sheets, with all of the cartoon and kids ti-ins . . . but why are we being more excepting of the HBO approach . . . or are we?

Any thoughts?
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Tyler James
post Dec 15 2009, 04:17 PM
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It's a good question, Mike.

On the one hand, I'd say tell the story you want to tell and write it the way you want to write it. Be true to your vision, otherwise, you'll find yourself unhappy with it.

One the other hand, there IS a reason why most comics don't have swearing or nudity in them...and most of the reason has to do with sales. While yes, HBO and Showtime's shows are for an adult audience and are "successful" and critically acclaimed, the number of people who watch Dexter is a fraction of the people who watch CSI or NCIS. CSI can cover exactly the same type of stories and material as Dexter, but can do so in such a way that it won't get walled off.

And that's what swearing and nudity does. It walls you off from the "general" audience.

With my online graphic novel Over, I was going for a soft-R type romantic comedy, along the lines of a SuperBad or Chasing Amy. Adult themes, language, mild nudity. It's definitely NOT for all audiences, and I have to tell you, it does sting a little bit realizing I'm giving up a big portion of the comic buying public by crossing the R barrier. (Plus my mom reads it, and wishes it was more tame so she could share with her friends...ha.)

I'd say just try to think it through...do you need to cross the R-barrier to tell your story? Clearly everyone on network TV and mainstream DC marvel do not. Are you willing to give up the general audience, in exchange for more adult storytelling?


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Mike_W
post Dec 15 2009, 04:41 PM
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Well said sir. What's you online book . . . link?
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Tyler James
post Dec 16 2009, 09:29 AM
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The book I was referring to is called Over

I'm also doing more of an all-ages fantasy book called Tears of the Dragon specifically because I want to have material on my table at cons that will be appropriate for all comic audiences.


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Decapitated_Dan
post Dec 16 2009, 10:26 AM
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Cuss it up MR. Weber. I am so sick of these non-mature books. No offense but I am older I want to read older stuff. Sure I have a few I read here or there that may be the old school, i love Ult spidey, but I want more grown up stuff.

Now there are extremes that you might border on, I think some companies can get right up to the line while others jump way over it but as long as it is in good taste to you the creator use it.


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G-Man
post Dec 16 2009, 10:40 AM
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The good thing about doing an Indy book (and yeah....I spelled it Indy....if that offended anybody...get a life) is that you're free to do what you want.

I'm tired about hearing about all ages stuff all the time. Life is not rated "G" for everyone. I don't get into sex and profanity for the sake of sex and profanity either...there's a fine line.

It's your material. Write it in a manner that makes it real to you. Don't sell out to please the masses who could care less in the long run. Just write a good story.

And if nobody likes it but you in the long run everybody else can (bleep) your (bleep) (bleep) (bleep) and the (bleep) (bleep) can be (bleep) happy about it.


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Mike_W
post Dec 16 2009, 11:15 AM
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Thanks all . . . great stuff . . . any thoughts on levels and degrees of graphic violence?
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G-Man
post Dec 16 2009, 11:40 AM
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QUOTE (Mike_W @ Dec 16 2009, 12:15 PM) *
Thanks all . . . great stuff . . . any thoughts on levels and degrees of graphic violence?



Once again, I feel the world today is a Rated "R" world. Most of the comics that appeal to me...and most Indy books at least have a fan following that share the same age demographic as I...if nothing more...are very much Rated "R" in nature.

(kids don't buy independent books....adults over 21 buy indy books so cater to your audience)

That being siad , scenes of intense violence is bound to pop up from time to time....just make sure if you use any of these elementns it's only to add an extra sense of layering to your story and the characters within.

Three pages of sex or violence with no dialouge and is nothing more than nude party parts of brains splattered on the wall...would in my opinion be going too far. A man getting in his car to discover somebody in the back seat with a gun and the next panel shows the same guy getting shot in the back of the head...that's part of a story. True you can tone this same scene down and imply even off panel that the driver has been shot....that's your call.

It's your book.

I have a problem with PG-13 horror films. I know the wider the audience the more a movie makes...but if a movie or book is okay for a 13 year old , where do I fit in? I'm 13 x3 with some change. And I have more money than any 13 year old I know.


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Ron Fortier
post Dec 16 2009, 01:42 PM
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What has always bothered me about excess anything in comics is that it is often a subterfuge to disguise a true lack of story-telling talent. Think about a minute. How many times have you picked up a so called indy-adult book to find it over filled with gratuitous sex and violence and absolutely no cohesion in regards to plotting and story-telling.
So you make an honest critique, and immediately the creator deflects it with, "Ah, you're just a naive wimp who doesn't understand adult fare."
Which, my friends is pure BS.
Rule number one, serve your story. If it requires sex, violence, cussing, whatever, fine...but don't make those things the be all, end all.
We can still smell a phony under all that "adult" camouflage.
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Mike_W
post Dec 16 2009, 02:12 PM
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Again . . . well said . . . thanks for the good stuff all!

I'm lucky with the book I'm working on with 2 very talented artists (Loran Skinis and Gary Morgan) . . . and we can reel each other in and keep the story on point. Which I think is pretty good . . . personally, with the violence I prefer the inferred approach or dark silhouettes, even in R rated horror films . . . like the creativity it spurs.
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Tim Tilley
post Dec 16 2009, 02:14 PM
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As someone who intends on having a children's book series published, but also intends on having a more mature themed comic: I think its fine as long as its advertised as such. I see no problem with it as long as the story or plot requires it.. if the character cusses so the they *the character) can advance in some way, they go for it.
I think what the others had written above are all well said.
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ChadStrohl
post Dec 16 2009, 02:48 PM
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I have nothing to add but my two cents. Bill and Ron basically said everything I would have, both pro and con. The only thing (somewhat) new that I can add is stay true to the theme and stay true to yourself. Earlier mention of HBO programming made me think of Deadwood. I enjoyed the show, but I thought it took the vulgarity too far. I didn't think it made the story any more edgy and, for me, it distracted from it.

A point/counterpoint of reference, though. Imagine switching the verbal mannerisms of Jackie Gleason's character in Smokey and the Bandit with Samuel L. Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction. Both movies would suffer for it and come off just plain odd. Same with nudity... Kim Basinger in Nine and a Half Weeks versus Kim Basinger in Batman. You probably wouldn't want to interchange those. (No knocks on the Tim Burton Batman now people... when that was all we had we loved it and you know it).

So, as I said... no new ground here, just wanted to jump in the discussion.


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Anthony Hochrein
post Dec 16 2009, 10:54 PM
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I remember a letter from an EPIC magazine from waaaay back when they used to PUBLISH Epic magazine, comparing it to the content in HM. While Marvel had the adult content in Epic, it seemed that the quality bar was raised very high. The letter writer stated that it seemed that HM's only interest was in making porn. When you compare, for example, the over the top naked people running around Corben's DEN in HM, and the artsy nudity in MARADA THE SHE-WOLF in EPIC, you'd see the point. Personally, I'd LOVE to take the time out to produce a story for HM, but I realize that it doesn't need to be an excuse to produce porn. Anyone can do that.


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G-Man
post Dec 16 2009, 11:15 PM
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Those Marada the She-Wolf stories were incredible!!


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doombug
post Dec 16 2009, 11:39 PM
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The series I'm working on there is swearing, there is the occasional smoking and there is some pretty gory violence at some points.

At the end of the day if you feel it needs to fit in the story and you feel the characters will do the things your writing, go with that gut instinct. They are your characters and audiences will appreciate the read in the long run as long as your not second guessing yourself I guess.

Bill made a good point, things really are geared towards the "R" rating nowadays.

As long as it never feels forced, you should do it.


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Crazz
post Dec 17 2009, 02:06 AM
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I wanted to chime in on this earlier, but I got caught in the gears of the triplet machine this evening. The gist of the messages given have been right on the money, which is to tell your story in what ever fashion you deem to be appropriate and as long as you aren't going to excess in the areas that society tends to frown on you'll be OK.

I think one of the difficulties creators face is similar to the example you gave in regards to the mature theme of shows available of HBO and SHOWTIME such as Deadwood, Dexter, Rome, Sopranos, ect.... The most obvious is that despite the similarities, they aren't the same mediums and as such the inherent differences don't always allow for simple and equal conversions.

The second thing thing to keep in mind is that their success is based on a totally different business model. Each one of those shows are are marketed as part of a "package" of original movies, series, sporting events, concerts, and first run motion pictures on a subscription basis. The Networks compete against that by providing their content free to the consumer (in exchange for selling ad space) and thus its' content is subject to approval and oversight by the FCC.

That's a large part of why those same cable channels can cater to a smaller fringe segment audience (us) than say CBS or NBC who will bombard us with CSI: BANGOR and LAW & ORDER:Expired Food Labels Division. From a business standpoint that holds true for comics as well, but few people self publish do so as a way make money.

On a bit of a side note I think if was Chad who mentioned the vulgarity on Deadwood as going to far, but I want to defend it. Whether you take it out of context or in its entirety it was placed specially for it's ability to shock modern viewers with vulgarity. This was done to reflect the discrepancies between the rest of society and the wild and uncouth culture that began to spring up around the mining camps in the post-Civil War Dakota territories. Had the dialogue remained more true to the period I doubt it would have be as interesting.


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eric
post Dec 17 2009, 02:48 PM
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QUOTE (Ron Fortier @ Dec 16 2009, 12:42 PM) *
What has always bothered me about excess anything in comics is that it is often a subterfuge to disguise a true lack of story-telling talent. Think about a minute. How many times have you picked up a so called indy-adult book to find it over filled with gratuitous sex and violence and absolutely no cohesion in regards to plotting and story-telling.
So you make an honest critique, and immediately the creator deflects it with, "Ah, you're just a naive wimp who doesn't understand adult fare."
Which, my friends is pure BS.
Rule number one, serve your story. If it requires sex, violence, cussing, whatever, fine...but don't make those things the be all, end all.
We can still smell a phony under all that "adult" camouflage.



Fully agree with you here Ron.


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flapjac
post Dec 17 2009, 06:21 PM
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There is a place for everything. I believe you should make what you want. I personally try to steer clear of the "purely adult" stuff on the creation end. This is because I'm a father of two and I want to be able to show them what I do. But in contrast, that doesn't mean I don't love more mature stuff to enjoy myself.

On a slightly different note, I have to get in on the deadwood example. I personally loved the show and thought everything about it was made in perfect context. I mean, ya, it was one of the most vulgar shows I've ever seen, but it added a reality of the times in complete contrast to another show set in the same period, Little House. Now don't think I'm knockin Little House, because I'll be the first to admit that I love that show, too, but from all the research I've done, Deadwood was far more accurate to the time period. Sorry to ramble on, but anytime someone mentions Deadwood, I gotta chime in. If ya haven't seen it, do so. Some of the best character developement and chemistry I've ever seen happens between Bullock and Sweringen. Nuff said.


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Cary
post Dec 18 2009, 06:50 AM
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Great discussion here by the way, nice to see some coherent thought going on both sides of the issue.

For me, with Fallen Justice it was back and forth. The original scripts had a lot more language in them, as well as some interesting innuendo, that I eliminated in the lettering phase of the game because for whatever reason it wasn't serving the story. I think the story is hard nosed enough, and has enough sex and violence, without adding to it unnecessarily. At one point we did have a discussion about what path to take, either over the top mature, PG-13, or all ages. At the end of the day you really can't have your shining hero go to killing everyone in sight with powers and call that all ages. At the same time I'd like to be able to have the trade carried by larger book chains at some point, and to do that it's going to have to stay in the PG-13 range simply because it's shelved next to other books of the same general rating and marketed to kids for the most part. Compromise? Absolutely. But do I feel the story suffered for that compromise? Nah, not at all. I got the stuff in there that I wanted, one way or the other, so it's all good. Not to mention we freaked Apple out without showing ANYTHING! So yeah I'd say we accomplished what we wanted to and still stayed under the radar for the most part.


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Mike_W
post Dec 18 2009, 10:18 AM
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Thanks again all . . . great stuff!

And love just about everything in DEADWOOD . . . but I did need to turn my head during the one fight where the guy poked the other dudes eyes out . . . ouch!
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