It seems I’m finally getting noticed enough that differing opinions are popping up. And this is a good thing. Respectful disagreement is how I learn new things and figure out whether I should change my opinions. Or, in other cases, where I should clarify my opinions so things make more sense. So in that spirit of clarifying, let’s get a saucepan, ask a few questions, and melt things down until the solids sink out.
What do you mean, my comic’s not safe for work?
I understand that not all workplaces are the same. My summer jobs included dishwashing, amusement park ride operation, minor web design, state park maintenance, and editorial interning. You can get away with a lot more salty language and dirty humor around guys who power-wash latrines every Tuesday than you can with interns on a Christian-saturated campus.
That said, here’s my standard for “work-safe.” In my current job (staff writer for a non-profit), my only co-worker is a mother of two in her forties. My boss is also a mother of two, and she’s known my parents since before I was born. Your comic is work-safe if I can safely imagine reading it with one of them looking over my shoulder. If sex happens on-panel, or if someone’s ripping someone else in half, or if references to the reproductive system make up half of your punchlines, then I’m going to call it NSFW. Or if I’m reading your comic and my five-year-old nephew wanders into the room and asks, “Unka Simey, what’s that?” and I can’t answer without using a euphemism, then I’m going to call it NSFW.
What do you mean, my comic’s tasteless? Are you some kind of prude?
Well . . . yes.
I’m the son of an erstwhile Latter-Day Saint bishop and a schoolteacher, and I picked up a certain amount of their sensibilities. A comic that aims for the lowest common denominator really doesn’t appeal to me. I haven’t been in junior high for more than a decade, and even then, that sort of humor wasn’t really entertaining to me.
This isn’t to say that I’ve never laughed at a dirty joke. What I’m saying is that dirty jokes have to be told with the same amount of finesse, the same skill in timing, the same cleverness of wit as any other joke. You can’t just use a reference to the reproductive or excretory systems as the punchline.
Here, let me give some examples. In one of my favorite movies, Clue, there are a number of bawdy jokes and ribald actions—but they’re only a part of the humor, and they’re not dwelt on. In Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a nude Wallace is forced to cover himself with a cardboard cheese box; if you blink, you’ll miss the warning on the side of the box that says, “May Contain Nuts.” The jokes are dirty, but they’re deft.
In short, you can have the artistic talent of Botticelli, the narrative skill of Homer, the allusory prowess of Terry Pratchett, and the electronic wizardry of the HTMLGoodies staff . . . and I still won’t read your comic if you have the wit of Judd Apatow.
. . . Oh. So why’d you give that other comic a better rating than mine?
Because the rating system has as almost as much significance to the review as my choice of font color for the title of the blog. My general philosophy is that if you aren’t able to glean my opinion of a comic from the review itself, then a number at the bottom of the review really isn’t going to help matters. The rating is pretty much an opportunity for me to make one last attempt at a witty comment about the comic I’m reviewing.
A higher or lower number doesn’t mean much of anything; if it did, then people might wind up thinking that Furthia High, with a review of eight kicked puppies and a restraining order, was my most favorable review. And that’s just wrong.
So having taken the butter of my blog and made it just a little bit more ghee-like, I hope this resolves some reader issues. I’ll be back to reviewing next week.