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#258: Parental Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor

July 21, 2008

Notes from the Manager

Although The Dark Knight's record-setting debut weekend has been making the most headlines, the film's level of violence has been getting a little attention, as well. (Note: there are a few spoilers in the linked article.)

I don't know how many parents I've got reading this juvenile little strip of mine, so I don't really know how much anybody else out there will particularly care about this subject, but the violence in The Dark Knight kind of bothered me. The film was absolutely spectacular, mind you, and, in some ways, it was refreshing to see the Joker be able to cut loose with an appropriate amount of fucked-up insanity for the character, unlike the candy-coated Nicholson version or the relatively family-friendly Batman: The Animated Series version.

The level of violence bothered me not in the context of the film, but in how the film was being marketed. Toys are a hard one to gauge ages for, because adults collect action figures. (I do think MacFarlane Toys' products — while often disturbing — are generally and plainly aimed at older collectors/hobbyists, not children.) But I saw children's picturebooks unquestionably aimed at grade school aged kids at a Borders the other day — not just generic Batman picture books, mind you, but Dark Knight-specific picture books, with a sanitized version of Heath Ledger's Joker — and my soul died a little.

Marketing a film like Dark Knight to kids that young is simply inappropriate. Even though it is (of course) the parents' responsibility to decide if their child is ready for a PG-13 or even R-rated movie, little-kid merchandise gives parents the impression that the movie is appropriate for younger kids, whether that is the case (as in Iron Man) or not (as in DK, in my opinion, anyway).

Of course, you could tell from just the trailers that the Joker was going to be one messed up puppy but you couldn't (SPOILERS) tell that he was going to shove a pencil into a guy's skull or how fucked up Two-Face was going to look… (END SPOILERS).

I don't think Dark Knight should have gotten an R; to say sixteen year olds shouldn't be able to go to Dark Knight without a parent is absurd. But I do think a non-superhero movie from a studio without Warner Brothers' leverage with the MPAA with the exact same level of violence would have been given an R without hesitation. (Most people who have seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated would suspect the same thing.)

But because the studios aren't doing parents any favors by marketing movies like Dark Knight towards kids, they need to be better prepared when they take younger children to the movies — even (shudder) at the expense of spoiling movies for themselves, and so to that end, Parent Previews and Kids in Mind are two of many options to read up on the content of the movies at your local multiplex. (Note: Both links take you to The Dark Knight page at each site, so be ready for spoilers. Very detailed ones.)

Neither of these sites' Dark Knight reviews are quite on the mark, in my opinion (Kids in Mind's rating system has Iron Man's violence/gore rating equal to Dark Knight's which is ridiculous), so I'm not necessarily endorsing them; I'm just saying that they exist, and that parents should find resources they trust to rely upon.


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Tell me a story. (Looking for a prose writer for an eBook single.)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I want to take a foray into electronic publishing.

I am looking for a (prose) writer to provide a short story, novella or non-fiction story that I will turn into an iBooks-formatted eBook for sale (in the iBookstore), released under my Chase Sequence publishing imprint. Chase Sequence published Multiplex: There and Back Again, which won the 2014 IPBA Gold Medal for Best Graphic Novel/Drawn Book–Humor/Cartoon, so technically it is an award-winning publisher.

There is no limitation with regard to genre, but I will say that my taste in prose leans strongly toward literary fiction and non-fiction, and toward characters, psychology, and well-written prose over plot. (Margaret Atwood is my favorite writer.)

What to Submit: A pitch for a 30+ page, prose short story/novella/non-fiction piece. No comics — no picture books. If you have already written the short story, great, but it must be previously unpublished. Please include links or URLs to a resumé and examples of previous published work would be helpful, to give me a feel for your voice.

Send questions (or submissions) to gordon at multiplexcomic.com.

The Terms: No money up front, but 50% of the cover price in exchange for one year of exclusivity (from the date of publication). The writer retains all other rights to their story. These will be sold via iBooks only (at least at first), which means that Apple will get 30% and I will get 20% for my contributions: I will edit the story; I will design and produce the eBook; I will illustrate a cover for it (or hire someone else to, if I’m not the best fit for the story); I will help promote it.

Please submit your pitch before April 30, 2015. I will notify the selected writer(s) I am interested in working with as soon as possible after that.

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