Saturday, February 16, 2013
Wanted: Comic Relief
My 13-year-old recently asked me to reserve a book for him at the library called "How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You". It's a few months old, and contains cartoon drawings and humorous ways to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you, such as, "Kneading on You: you may think this is a sign of affection, but your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weaknesses." Sounds funny, right? Kid- (or at least teen-) oriented, right?
Suffice it to say I felt no need, after seeing a few pages, to fully screen the book before my kids got a look. They had seen some of the comics online already at www.theoatmeal.com, which is how they came to request the book.
Imagine my surprise on discovering there are words in there like D-bag (spelled out and no, it doesn't mean dirtbag, as my youngest previously thought), dammit and God... dangit.
So what's a mother to do? I think I am like most parents, thrilled that my kids are reading anything. I barely have time to keep up with my own reading, and now I have to screen and possibly censor my kids' reading?
And that's another problem. Now I have to censor comic books? What's next, book burning? I know some Manga drawings can lean toward the, er, sexual side. But this is about a cat. I wasn't worried, and thought I had no reason to be. Sadly, it seems the line was blurred between adult and children's humor when animation for grownups started gaining steam on television. South Park. Family Guy. King of the Hill. And don't even get me started on the stuff they show on Cartoon Network. I don't think much of it is fit for *human* consumption, let alone kids. It's only natural these things would show up on the Internet and in books.
I grew up on Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Magilla Gorilla and Wacky Races on Saturday mornings. I read Peanuts and Garfield books, and Richie Rich and Archie comic books. I can understand the cautionary tale for parents on the dangers of letting television babysit their kids without checking up on them, but books? Is this part of the downfall of publishing?
Thankfully, I have a great Young Adult librarian in my town whose services I'll clearly need to seek out more than ever before. I'd be interested to learn if this is a new phenomenon parents are facing, or if I'm just now being introduced to a years-old dilemma. Anyone?
Posted by Christine Adler