Authentic Street Lingo?

September 17th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Batman’s Comedy of Eros, by Dennis O’Neil – ComicMix news

Comics have come a considerable distance in the few years since I left editing. Hell and damn, once verboten seem okay both in comics and on TV, and a few gamier locutions are beginning to pop up. But I don’t believe the medium – comics – has evolved to the point where authentic street lingo is expected.

This is about the All-Star Batman thingaling. I guess what he’s meaning by “authentic street lingo” is curse words, but I don’t exactly see why comics have not, or would not have, evolved to the point where it is expected.

“Motherloving” is a terrible, terrible word. It was bad in Ennis’s Punisher, it was bad in Priest’s Panther (or was it Deadpool?), and it was bad in last week’s issue of Amazing Spidey. “Butthat” is pretty bad, too. “*@#($&” is annoying, but not as annoying as the fake Legion grife and sprock and frak and whatever.

I saw The Incredible Hulk with Ron from iFanboy and James and Kirsten from Isotope. There is a bit in the movie where the old school Hulk theme plays. We were talking about the movie afterwards, and Kirsten remarked that playing the Hulk theme was a bad move. It was something that pulled you out of the movie and just reminded that you that you were a dumb comics fan who was seeing a dumb movie about a dumb guy who turns into a big dumber guy.

That’s what the fake censoring does. No one is doing it for the “Hee hee it was almost a cuss word” thing. People do it because the other ways look stupid. The other ways just serve to remind you that, HEY, this is a comic book, buddy! They jerk you out of the story. They look stupid.

The black bars are actually pretty elegant. I think the first place I saw them, and really noticed them, was in Adam Warren’s work, though Milestone used a variant of it. It’s reminiscient of the TV beep or music video cut. It takes away the word while still allowing it to remain present for dialogue flow or character purposes. A lot of all-ages titles get this right. They don’t use fake curse words. If they have a situation that needs them, they don’t replace it with “motherlover.”

Some people don’t like to be reminded that they are reading a comic while they’re reading. It isn’t a comics hate or self-hate thing. It’s no different than being pulled out of a movie or novel. It’s distracting. It hurts your enjoyment of the book.

So, yeah. Put me down with the people who expect authentic street lingo out of comics, be it superhero or otherwise. I can’t think of a single reason why not. If it isn’t a book that that is mature readers (and that is an essay to come, as Frank Miller had a really interesting discussion about it in some Sin City lettercols years ago) and you are worried about backlash, bleep the words.

David U from FBB has some more thoughts on the immaturity thing here.

More to come. I’ve been at work all day yesterday, all night last night, and possibly all day today again. I want to talk about this stupid streak of self-loathing comics fans have, or at least loathing toward other comics fans, and more on censorship and labeling.

I guess the long and short of it, though, is that labeling isn’t something I’m down with and self-loathing is for idiots.

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8 comments to “Authentic Street Lingo?”

  1. I generally prefer the “*@#($&” version of censoring because it leaves it up to my imagination. It’s more fun with certain characters since I can create some extremely off the wall obscenities, like Frank Miller’s Batman.

    Black bars just ruin the whole thing for me because the writer more than likely had a specific word in mind but had to censor it, so I’m always like “Oh shit what did he say!?” That’s no fun.

  2. @astroblack

    But you can usually tell what the word is that’s being black-boxed just from the context, the flow of sentence, and the length of the word. ‘Ass’ and ‘motherfucking’ are going to be noticeably different in length, for example, and you usually don’t use ‘bastard’ and ‘fucker’ interchangeably.

  3. What the-?!

  4. As a kid, I thought motherloving was the most cleverest thing ever but I didn’t get it from comics. It’s probably less annoying for me to see them inventing fictional slang than using authentic slang incorrectly, especially if it’s old slang.

  5. What was that Slott comic recently where someone told someone else that they would &@*@ their ##*&#& so far up their #*#& that they would @&$*@ their @!&^? I’m guessing the Initiative?

    I’m happier with the black bars than the Beetle Bailey method, even if I think Frank Miller and ASBAR are pretty childish to begin with – and I mean childish for superhero comics, mind you.

  6. I think it’s pretty dumb to censor All-Star Batman for language. What parent is going to be upset by the swearing of all things in that book? Didn’t Batman get his swerve on with Black Canary on a dock, five minutes after they met?

  7. I think grife and sprock work in Legion, but obviously not anywhere else. And yes, Don’t-Be-That-Guy Guy, that includes real life. Likewise “Sweet Christmas!” works if and only if Luke Cage is saying it. Any other work around is just going to be universally silly sounding.

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