Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 18, 2006

Go, Read: Editorial on Comics Ratings

I think this is brand new, but I could be a wrong: a massive, aggressively argued on comics lack of a rating system, that quotes everything from the Jesus Castillo case to the nip-slip cover on Intimates #4. Although I'm concerned by the understated homophobia potentially at play in using an Outsiders scene of implied man on man sex as a flash point, this is probably as good an unpacking of the pro-ratings position as you're likely to find.

I still don't buy it. Books aren't labeled; they seem to do okay. Comics is no longer a mass medium with a lot of accidental discovery to reckon with. Ratings or "mature readers" labels are a fine tool for many publishers, and many publishers use them. I'm sympathetic to those retailers that wish they had better, more consistent information, but taking care of this through a ratings system seems to me to play to some of the worst, most dysfunctional aspects of the comics industry's direct market: not holding publishers to certain standards of professionalism, the ludicrous rush to throw massive amounts of product on the shelves the moment it arrives, and yes, even the cynical manipulation of children's literature for prurient effect.
posted 2:49 am PST | Permalink

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