I’m a fan of the F-word. BIG fan. I love it almost as much as I love the S-word. I also like lewd and/or tasteless humor as well as horrific violence. Thankfully there is no shortage of any of these things in our beloved uncensored land of web-comics, but what about the people who don’t like bad language, naked parts, or bloody decapitations? And what about the little kids whose parents have blocked all of those things? The Internet has comics for them too.
I am of course referring to the family friendly comics of: Acorn Place, On the Rocks, Ugly Hill, and many more I have failed to mention here. Each of these comics show a certain restraint (that is lacking in many other comics of the internet) balanced with a healthy quality so that their strips are well done, entertaining, and far from edgy. Some creators (like those at Make Like a Tree Comics) have gone as far as rating their material visibly for the reader or the reader’s parent. Now of course I am not claiming that all of the internet’s comic creators should be as family friendly, or even that there should be a rating/warning posted on any of them, but there is something to be said for the creator’s who choose the safe ground as opposed to the edge.
I deeply believe that, “dirty words are the language of the ignorant”, but that certainly has never stopped me from screaming “MOTHER F*CKER” every time I stub my toe. Conversely, I believe Stephen King when he says: “If your character means ‘I gotta take a sh*t’ you shouldn’t make them say ‘Have a moment to defecate.'” But this doesn’t mean that we must be devoid of taste or restraint.
The scriptwriters of the old noir movies believed this (or were forced to believe it) thus they worked harder to make their scripts flow just as truthfully. In the movie “Casablanca” One character was grievously left by the love of his life only to see her again some years later on the arm of her husband in his own saloon. Also in the movie a police officer made business by trading beautiful women passports for sexual favors. During the course of these events not one dirty word was spoken, nor one bit of explicit action or dialogue shown, but it was at no cost to the characters or the story.
The comics I listed above (though wonderful reads) are by no means the masterpiece of “Casablanca”, but they have taken the same high road. That high road is certainly not easy, and for those of us who like our ignorant cuss words, it isn’t very attractive either, but to take it is a noble endeavor. Noble and deserving of our respect.
Hats off to you our Princes and Princesses of other web comic realm. Without you on the high road who would we ever look up to?
Yeah, they\’re taking the high road to \”nobody gives a shit\” town. Bwhahahahaha…
No, I kid. Those are good comics. I know when I did a \”friendly\” comic strip though, I always felt like I lived in \”nobody gives a shit\” town though. Or, maybe \”12 people give a shit\” town.
I think the f-bombs are a convenient way to add realism to a strip or at least get you out of a writing jam. But it takes more smarts to keep it off your plate entirely. You can look at Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld. Two of the funniest people in the planet who never resorted to language. And BTW, Acorn Place only ran for like 10 months. Great strip, but not a great reference tool since it is defunct.
You\’ve got a really good point, and I have a lot of respect for all those cats who wanna have an all ages strip. I\’m just not one of them.
I think J.R. \”Bob\” Dobbs said \”F*ck \’em if they can\’t take a joke.\” See, doesn\’t have half the punch when censored, does it?
Maybe not, but it\’s twice as funny because the censor thinks removing one letter makes the whole thing innocuous.
This is why I think typewriter symbols are one of the greatest comic conventions ever. The cartoonist gets plausible deniability with possibly irate parents while readers get to unleash their filthy creativity by filling in the blankety-blanks.
Ever notice that cuss words are funnier when they are bleeped out?
Check this out: http://youtube.com/watch?v=VO9zwhersfk&search=robot%20chicken
Without bleeps… pretty funny.
WITH bleeps… F@#$ing HILARIOUS!
One thing I LOVE about the webcomics scene is that there\’s a place for everything from \”All ages\” strips to the most graphic violence or the most lurid sex and the playing field is fair and even.
Me, I chose to make my strip all ages without regret, but I love the boundless humor in Penny Arcade. And there\’s plenty of room for all as it is right now.
Personally, (for me anywho) I don\’t view my choice as taking the high road, but I don\’t automatically consider the use of vulgarity to be the low road. My favorite TV Show is Penn and Teller\’s Bulls#it. Penn, as Ralphie might say, uses profanity the way other artists would use oild or clays. It\’s his medium and he\’s a master. And that show is both entertaining AND informative. Nothing low road about it to me.
The strip I started out doing, \”Krazy Larry\” was a lot more edgy than \”Ugly Hill\”. I never went so far as dropping the F-Bomb, but I definitely did my share of cussing. I think I just finally realized I didn\’t need it to tell the stories I wanted to tell. It\’s not like I don\’t use those words in real life, but even since I started drawing UH I\’ve been pretty proud of the fact that pretty much anyone can read it, if not relate to it. There may not be a lot of blue material in there, but the subject matter remains aimed at an older audience. Go figure!
EDIT: The closest I\’ve come to anything dirty, I think, is this strip: http://www.uglyhill.com/d/20050923.html I wrestled with my conscience for a long time before actually publishing it, but once I thought of the gag, I just had to use it.
We aim for PG17. Nothing gratuitous, – no actual nudity either, but lots of innuendo and, like AndrewTLA says, symbols for the occasional swearing 🙂 There\’s a word for that too. Mort Walker had a name for it, which escapes me.
I guess if we used ratings I\’d say we\’re never more than R. Funny though, as cool as I am with the profanity, I never draw full nudity. As if it were different.
You\’re right Lar, I think the word was \”Grawlixes\”. I\’m glad you mentioned it, now I really wanna find his book.
Historically, comics have already provided us with a solution for having characters swear without actually printing said profanity – the use of special characters (eg: %&*#@!), and this is still used in a lot of modern comics. I can understand why some would prefer to use the actual words rather censor themselves, as there is a certain cadence/rhythm associated with certain phrases. However I think a lot of webcomicists use profanity simply because they *can*.