At least one retailer has run into a parent angry at the content of DC's Outsiders #8 being sold to a child, and DC has issued a statement in response. W. Alan Davis of Silver Bullet Comics in Wilkesboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina had a mother return an issue and tell him, '...I needed to be more aware of what I was providing to other people's children,' Davis told us. 'I was in shock,' he said. 'The customer that complained to me...there were fifty customers just like her that didn't complain.'
Davis attributed the situation to the fact that Outsiders customers had largely come over from Teen Titans, and the new content was a little old for some of them (he estimated the age of the child in question at around 12). 'When you have... Ghost in the Shell, it targets a specific audience, even though there's no label,' he said. 'The younger audience doesn't want to buy that book. If you have a book that comes off a cartoon, it's different.'
Davis didn't fault DC for its handling of the book. 'DC didn't drop the ball; we made assumptions and DC didn't realize we were making assumptions. It just unveiled a problem--that there isn't enough information for retailers to make a decision. DC needs to realize that we need the info to make the decision.'
Also making it difficult was the fact that this book was not available as a 'sneak peak' book, which would have allowed early screening of the title by retailers. Potential content issues in the book include semi-nudity, language, and sexual situations.
DC's Patty Jeres, in conjunction with VP Direct Sales Bob Wayne and VP Editorial Dan DiDio responded with the following points:
'We didn't have the complete book in at the time of solicitation (we rarely do by this point for an ongoing) so we had no way to know for solicitation that the content would be rougher than the previous seven issues.
'Outsiders was conceived as an edgy book, without a Code seal. ('Edgy' is a tool we want our talent to be able to use creatively in service of telling a good story.)
'Editorial concedes Outsiders #8 was a bit rougher than prior issues in order to establish the nature of the villain. Dan informs us that this issue actually had been toned down from what was originally submitted.
'Subsequent issues will not need to be as graphic and should not cause any more concerns than did issues #1-7. He also appreciates your feedback and promises to keep us better informed in the future should such a situation occur again so that we can keep you better informed.'
Jeres also offered retailers DC's apologies for the situation. 'Please accept our apologies that we didn't do this one exactly right,' she said. 'In trying to push the creative boundaries of our editorial content, we're bound to get it wrong for some of you some of the time. We'll continue to count on you to call us on it.'
DC also offered 'every consideration' to retailers that felt they couldn't sell the book because of content. That seems unlikely; Silver Bullet was sold out and awaiting a reorder by the time the complaint occurred. Davis said that although he wasn't re-racking the book, he would be more conscious of the customer's age when he got re-stocked.