Recently, I have made some fairly sweeping changes to the books that will be ordered and sold in our shop in the coming months. Oh, you haven’t heard? Well, from, essentially, May on, we will no longer be ordering books that are rated at M, or MATURE, for our shop.
Here’s a link for a list, based on pulls
Thing is, many of said books are super popular and sell very well. Books like The Walking Dead, Saga, Redneck and many others are big sellers and we have many customers that currently have them on their pull-lists via our subscription service.
There is frustration and customers are upset. I can totally understand and I also am aware that some of you have already begun to cancel your pull-lists and will possibly start getting comics elsewhere.
Let me state, that this was, in no way, an easy decision. I knew that people who have been coming to my shop for almost a year now, might get upset. It was not my intention, whatsoever, to make customers mad. If you’ll keep reading, I’d like to take you on a journey to shed light on the recent changes and some of the reasoning behind them.
Let’s go back to the early days, no not of The HIVE, but, the 1920s.
Comics had been a round for a while by this point. They were seen as cheap entertainment and covered the gamut of themes. There was something for everyone at the time and it was great; “The Roaring 20’s”.
But, then the economy collapsed and there was no work, no food, no money for a pamphlet with silly stories. It sucked. Getting supper on the table was a feat in and of itself. Domestic and violent crimes rose. Kids saw their moms and dads fighting, sometimes violently. This was a time when it was ok to smack your wife and your kids.
Nearly 10 years later, the country starts to pull itself out of the collapse and people start to have jobs again, America was back on the rise and people began to have a little more expendable income.
It’s 1938 and, in Cleveland, Ohio, two guys sat down and created one of the most important character of all time, Superman.
This begins what collectors call the “Golden Age” of comics. Comics were cheap and affordable again. Most kids could afford 10 cents for adventure that they could read themselves into.
Soon after, many new faces started to show up. Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, you name it. These heroes fought the bullies and made sure that everything was as it should be. They stood up for the little man. Kids that had lived through the depression and were now 5 to 10 years old saw hope in these heroes. They saw what it was like to fight for the greater good and to avenge wrongs. Robin, while not technically the first sidekick, gave young readers someone they could relate with.
Then came the 1980s.
Those same kids were now getting older and were phasing out of reading comics. They were too light-hearted and didn’t mesh with the problems of being an adult.
Publishers caught on and soon it was “Hey, we’re not just for kids anymore!” Comics got darker, more violent, and dealt with heavier issues. Now, before you raise up your copies of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns and threaten to beat me with them, I think some of the best writing was done in this time. Comics were taken to a new level or art and literature in this time.
But, in doing so, they swung the pendulum a bit too far. Since then, and really up until recent years, there have been lots of great reads for adults and not a whole lot for kids. Remember, kids were the main devourers of funny books, and now, they aren’t so funny.
The main points of contention in many of the books rated M would be the overt sex / and or language. Call me a prude if you will, but i would argue that most of the time, the sex and language really add nothing to the story.
Take a certain Texas boy that writes several of the titles that we will no longer be carrying; he also writes Thanos, Doctor Strange, and soon VENOM for Marvel. All three of these titles are selling out and going for multiple reprints across the country. They are great stories. He’s the guy responsible for that Thanos 13 costing 40 bucks on Amazon. These stories are rated T or T+, basically PG-13.
What does that tell me? That it is possible write AWESOME stories, that will sell like crazy, and they can be enjoyed by more people and without the content better suited for other media.
East of West is one of Image’s most praised titles and it is rated T+. You should check it out.
Point being; I want to make my shop as young reader and family friendly as possible. It may alienate customers, and for that, I am sorry for the inconvenience and I hope that we can still be friends. It is not a slight against anyone and what they choose to read.
My goal moving forward is for my shop to be an extension of me, my family, and my heart. I want kids filling my shop on Fridays and Saturdays because they feel safe and welcomed, not just by our staff, but also by the product we sell. I won’t have to worry about what books they might come across (and no, I will not simply keep them in a separate area.) You will be seeing a large amount of young reader books coming into the shop, a lot of which you will find listed at the top of many best seller lists.
Books that are young reader friendly do not have to be dry, dull, and pointless. Many of them teach great lessons on some pretty heavy topics, but are done in age appropriate ways.
You may say that I am prude and possibly anti-progressive. I would challenge that and say that I am trying to build up those that will be taking us into the future and doubling down on that investment.
C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, has stated:
“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”