Thursday, 17 September 2009

Mature, Adult or Merely Sophomoric

In last week's post, Komiks for Kids, I said that the comics industry, and in particular the Big Two in the US (i.e. Marvel and DC), has moved more and more towards material aimed at mature readers.

Comics as a medium, the argument often goes (sometimes unbeknownst to the general public), has grown up. It is no longer kiddie territory, but now a cultural realm also for adults. What is sad with this reasoning is that it is based on a couple of faulty suppositions:
1) That comics were previously only for kids and as such by default rather unsophisticated.

2) That all that has come after this assumed growing up is in and of itself mature cultural material.

The flaws of these two suppositions are plentiful. Not only were comics not only for kids prior to all of this (the entire notion of comics aimed at readers of all ages goes back quite a bit after all), but the assumption that even something aimed at children exclusively or primarily needs lack sophistication is questionable. At best and to put it mildly.

With regards to the second supposition, I have to say that there is something particularly sad with the term mature being applied to some of this, admittedly adult oriented, material in that its claim to maturity is based on two simple factors: sex & violence. Personally, I would posit that graphic sex and violence (while clearly unsuitable for under-age audiences) do not maturity make. Much of this material rather firmly reveals itself as sophomoric, trying to pass itself off as mature.

It's not that I'm saying that sex and violence cannot be part of mature comics (because I do believe they most certainly can) or that some mature comics using these components (or certain themes or visual elements) might not also be unsuitable to kids. All I'm saying is that there is something very, very wrong when the two major companies in the US comics industry, with a strong history of comics aimed either directly at kids or (perhaps more accurately on many occasions) at All Ages audiences, are publishing comics that you'd seriously hesitate allowing any children you know to read if you just took a look at the cover. And (I hasten to add) in this case and based on my own experience and understanding, the content rarely belie that assumption.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is room for mature themes in comics (and I do mean mature, really), actually both in comics for mature readers and comics for all ages. Because let's face it, there are some pretty mature themes that have been handled in All Ages comics over the years, that are properly mature and have been maturely handled, especially when compared to some of the stuff put out by the sophomoric brigade (and not even that is saying that all things sophomoric in and of themselves are bad, or even bad ideas, merely that we should, perhaps, not leap at the opportunity to praise it as mature).

While I (as stated many times over) do believe that the medium has plenty of room for a full spectrum to exist, I would like to raise this single question: Why ruin fictional worlds that, while certainly not exclusively for children in the first place, should never be exclusively for adults either? Think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Det intressanta är att i Sverige har serier tidigare setts som något för barn, man har sett ned på vuxna som läst serier (mormor hade långa utlägg om vuxna karlar som lånade seriealbum på biblioteket - "Klarar de inte att läsa böcker?") medan i t.ex. Frankrike ses serier som finkultur, de är jättestolta över sina serier och albumen ges ut inbundna (har några superfina som jag köpt där).