Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by retailer Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett talks about recent examples of animation pushing the limits of taste, and online comics:


I know I’ve recused myself from writing any more on this topic, but I’ve got to admit I’m getting worried.  Comic books have always been such an innately imitative medium it’s undoubtedly going to continue to mirror what’s acceptable on TV, and it’s becoming increasingly clear there’s no longer any line between what’s permissible and forbidden there.  The outermost market buoy got yanked back another couple of feet two weeks ago when a pair of animated programs managed to be so outrageous not only did they get the attention of the media, it made them ask, “Have they gone too far?”


First Indiana Jones got raped on South Park, apparently because the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn’t care for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which, to me, seems to be a bit of an overreaction, not to mention it makes it obvious these guys have no one in their lives willing to tell them “This is an extremely bad idea”).  Then there was the episode of Family Guy where Stewie and Brian travel back in time to Poland on the eve of the German invasion. Strangely enough it wasn’t this premise that was considered offensive, it was the fact characters about to experience The Holocaust also had to endure a lot of “Boy them Jews sure are stingy, huh?” jokes. 


The August issue of Esquire had a review of the movie Tropic Thunder by Stephen Garrett that said the movie knew “the difference between being racist and telling a joke about racism.”  I imagine the show’s creator Seth McFarlane would tell us he’s just making jokes about anti-Semitic attitudes, but I refuse to accept “intent to be outrageous” as grounds for tolerating things so inherently ugly.  No, the outrageous bit was a Nazi shown wearing a McCain/Palin button.  I suppose that would be the ultimate outrage on a Fox channel.


About two weeks ago there was an item in Rich Johnson's Lying in the Gutter column at Comic Book Resources suggesting it’s been DC’s Dan Didio who’s been dead set against running any DCU content online for fear it would “dilute the published brand.”  Now if this is true (and I really need to stress the “if” part) it’s at least some kind of explanation why the company has dragged its heels so hard when it’s come to putting any of its comics online.  


Screenwriter William Goldman once said “Nobody knows anything” so Dan might be right, but a mountain of evidence suggests the opposite.  Marvels sure seems to be doing OK with its Digital Comics Unlimited initiative to the point they’re doing original online material; it’s nice to see them doing both cowboys (Kid Colt) and monsters (Fin Fang Foom).  Hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time until we see revivals of Patsy Walker and Silly Seal and Ziggy Pig.


I’d even suggest if the brand is going to survive it’s going to have to go beyond its increasingly dwindling published base to where the eyeballs are; online.  If Dan wants to keep the DCU in print in some form, new generations of readers are going to have to find out about the characters somehow and they’re not likely going to come through our doors unannounced (except of course on Free Comic Book Day).


Cartoon Network has a nice section on its site devoted to the upcoming Batman: Brave and Bold animated series, and from the clips on display the show looks like it’ll be the perfect delivery system for introducing kids to DC superheroes. So I have to ask, is why DC couldn’t post the entire first issue of their upcoming Batman: Brave and Bold comic book there?  It’s not like it would hurt that comics sales in the direct sales market.


I see Blue Water Productions has gotten the rights to produce comics based on the long running Leprechaun horror movie series.   I know I’ve written terrible things about their comics but I’m not going to let that stop me from offering them an unsolicited pitch for Leprechaun Goes to Wafflehouse.  In the opening scene The Leprechaun spies someone waiting for a bus flipping one of his hundred gold coins.  “Give me my gold!” he hisses.  The guys looks up, then down; he’s a little surprised but hands the coin to him; “Oh, is this yours?  Here.”  The Leprechaun just stares at the coin in his hand.  “Nobody has ever given me back my gold.  I-I don’t know what to do now”.


“Want to go get some waffles?” the man asks, hooking a thumb at The Waffle House behind them.  “Yeah, alright” replies the Irish sprite and off they go.  It’s kind of a buddy picture.


The opinions expressed in this Talk Back column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of