Thursday, June 18, 2009

What we mean by "Family Friendly"

When Andy, Jason and I first started writing stories for, we made the decision that we were going to maintain a family friendly atmosphere on our website. But the question is, what exactly does that mean?

I'll start with a little background. During the Silver Age of Comic Books (1956 - circa 1970) comics were much more clean than they are today. This was largely due to the fact that the newly created Comics Code Authority (sort of like what the MPAA is to film) imposed somewhat strict regulations on the content of comics. With The Code in place, most comics strayed from graphic violence, sexual content, foul language and drug use.

Throughout the 1960's, however, an underground comic book market began to grow where The Code did not apply and comics were free to explore whatever sort of content they pleased. Additionally, in 1971, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were approached by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare to do a comic that would combat illicit drug use. Lee accepted and did a three part Spider-Man series showing the harm of abusing drugs. The Code, however, did not approve, but Marvel published the comic anyway and gained widespread acceptance.

The unfortunate side-effect of this action, along with the rise in the underground comic book industry, was that The Code began to undergo a series of revisions that loosened up its rigid standards. Throughout the 70's and 80's, grittier comics began to emerge, such as Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, depicting harsher displays of violence, more sexual content, and drug use. Today The Code has mostly gone out of favor as many comics do not even apply for it and even Marvel has abandoned it in favor of its own ratings system. So while many if not most, comics maintain a family-friendly element - the door is now open for comics to take on any terrain they wish.

So what does this have to do with 3Twins? Well, as I said, with the decline of The Code came an increase in violence, sexual content, inappropriate language and drug use in comic books. This means that many comics are no longer suitable for children and that many adults who do not wish to look at this type of content will avoid them altogether. So when Andy, Jason and I began writing our own stories, we decided that we wanted to make content that anyone could view and enjoy without having to worry about these things.

We believe that a comic can be a multi-layered and deep story that adults will appreciate without having to delve into the use of violence, swearing, sex and drugs. However, we knew that some potential viewers might see our approach as too soft and they might assume that "Family Friendly" means that our target audience is children and parents. In reality, though, we want anyone who loves comics and cartoons to love our stories.

Thus we have always sought to maintain a delicate balance in our comics in order to keep them both appealing and appropriate for all ages. This is not always an easy task, but we believe that keeping this standard in mind helps us as writers to not simply go for the easiest joke or device to draw in viewers. Ultimately we believe this will help us to be better writers and offer you better stories.


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