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Fear not, Ethan. It’s clear that real-life baby punching isn’t even kind of OK, and I wouldn’t even want to see it in a “serious” comic (like the DC/Marvel stuff)... but Axe Cop is different, and I’d say that as long as people take it in the spirit it’s offered, they’ll be fine.
(The spirit, of course, being someone making drawings to go along with the insane, hilarious stories kids make up. Sure, they go overboard sometimes, but with guidance, they learn as they grow. Heck, I bet that Malachai will even stop drawing facial hair on himself with Sharpies at some point!)
Hey Ethan, I really like that you addressed this in detail. It sounds like you recognized that punching a baby could be disturbing, but ultimately decided to go with it on the basis of staying true to Malachai’s storytelling and recognizing that the character of Uni-Baby is indestructible and can’t be harmed by punches in the context of Axe Cop’s universe. I’m sure you have thought much more than I have about the philosophy of producing Axe Cop and translating Malachai’s imagination to images, so I respect that artistic decision even though the resulting comic bummed me out a little.
Along those lines, though, I want to ask a question about your creative process—do you foresee that you might ever censor something Malachai produced if he innocently came up with something that was too offensive to print?
Of course. He likes to make “naughty jokes” every once in a while to me because I’m his brother and they usually involve the characters private parts. I generally leave that out except on the occasion of uni-mans transformation.
I still don’t get all this “offended” stuff. It’s cartoony slapstick; I don’t see how anyone could take issue with this when the context is so obvious. If it were a serious comic that glorified the act (Instead of using it for horror in an effort to advance the story; for example, the villain being the child abuser), then yeah, but comedy of this nature is perfectly valid, especially in this style. In fact, I’m hoping the comic becomes even more extreme (Of course, it would all be unintentional, given the fact it’s written by a kid), just to hammer in the point to the weak-minded who are so easily offended (I bet these same people would feel offended if they sat back and watched older Looney Tunes shorts and whatnot and actually analyzed them (As opposed to letting nostalgia get in the way)).
I mean, people are suddenly all up-in-arms about baby punching in a comic they’ve been following that features a police-officer who routinely chops the heads off of individuals who front kick the wrong way and sneaks in to the houses of supposed criminals to kill them in their sleep.
Something doesn’t quite add up.
Personally, I know that when I am not destroying an entire planet with a Broadsword, along with my partner Trumpet Cop, there is nothing I enjoy more than punching small woodland creatures, esp. the harmless ones. Thus, I object to your depiction of punching babies, when no real damage is done and having this assigned to Robots, who are stealing good American Jobs.
Love and snuggles,
The Broadsword Detective (totally not a rip, I swear).
Hey Hello, not sure if you were responding directly to my comment but since you quoted the word “offended”, I wanted to clarify what I meant.
I wrote a little bit in the comments of Episode 104 trying to explain why I was disturbed by this particular comic and not by other comics where Axe Cop destroys an entire planet on Christmas Day, decapitates a bunny, or eats a fast-food sandwich made of baby meat. In this case, I had a gut reaction that took me out of the crazy world of Malachai’s imagination and into the real world where awful things happen, so the comic was less enjoyable for me. In the other 150+ strips, the adventures of Axe Cop have been so creative, so well-drawn, and so absurd that I’ve been able to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Some people thought the baby punching was still enjoyable. That’s totally cool with me. I’m still not 100% sure why I had this gut reaction to Episode 104 when this is probably not even the worst thing Axe Cop has ever done. But I thought this reaction was worth exploring, especially since it seems like it was shared by a couple commenters, and because I thought it raised some interesting questions about the creative process behind Axe Cop.
When I asked Ethan about censoring something “offensive” I wasn’t specifically referring to the baby punching. I know that when I was seven years old I came up with some really horrible, awful, gross ideas based on stories I heard on the news or the playground, things that would be really hard to reproduce in a slapstick cartoon context, things that were way worse than a cyborg dinosaur punching a baby. So I was wondering if Ethan’s policy was to illustrate anything Malachai came up with and leave the strip as a complete portrait of a seven-year-old’s imagination (good and bad), or if he would take some editorial liberties if Malachai came up with something that is not entertaining at all. I think that you could make a good argument for doing it either way.
Anyway, I think I have written enough stupid prose analyzing three panels of a webcomic written by a seven-year-old. For the record, I’ve never done this with Looney Tunes!
Do you ever use any of these stories as a teaching moment? I realize that one day he will grow out of this (and sadly we will also lose the magic of Axe Cop). At the same time, growing up.doesn’t just happen, he needs input from the grown UPS in his life. I think if anything bothered me at all, it’s that Malachai seems to think punching babies is ok. I know you explained his perspective, and that makes sense, I just hope at the sake time you are helping point him towards a better understanding.
I realize I’m just being a future mom and a kill joy. He’s your brother, he has parents, it’s not my job to make sure he grows up well. But since this is an open forum, those are my thoights, and I wanted to share them. Thanks for the awesome comic and the explanation in the blog today.
I think censorship should be kept to a minimum; Ethan should let Malachai go hogwild with whatever insane stuff he comes up with (It’s more entertaining that way; plus, I think it would make a point to the censor-happy folks in control of the television channels that everything doesn’t have to be “super ultra-clean fluffy happy world where no one dies,” which is how it is for most modern children’s cartoons (Bringing up Looney Tunes again, kids can handle stuff like that, which was far more extreme than most of the stuff on modern children’s television)).
I think, in the end, most sensible people would realize this is pure, childish, cartoony, fictional slapstick comedy and wouldn’t avoid it because it treads in to potentially dark or touchy territory. I doubt Ethan would get in to trouble for featuring material on the same level of “dark comedy” as baby-punching in the future.
There are vey few things, I think, that can’t be made in to a joke IF it’s in the correct context (And that would be something like the silly, over-the-top atmosphere that Axe Cop takes place in).
What it comes down to is that Malachai sees Uni-Baby as a cartoon character, not a real baby. Yes, I use moments as teaching moments, but I try to stay his brother and not his Dad. It’s much more the job of his (our) parents to teach him these things and he is a super sweet kid who would never punch a baby in real life any more than the creators of Looney Tunes would drop an anvil on someone in real life. He was just being funny as he saw humor.
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Corollary: if a baby punches an adult, THAT’S funny.
Any time a baby punches an adult it’s funny.
“I really like that you addressed this in detail. It sounds like you recognized that punching a baby could be disturbing, but ultimately decided to go with it on the basis of staying true to Malachai’s storytelling and recognizing that the character of Uni-Baby is indestructible and can’t be harmed by punches in the context of Axe Cop’s universe.” is not a specific essay topic to be taking as a education.
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