Why would a muder mystery qualify as a suitable comic for children?
It doesn't take much to get 14 year old Jennifer Gaske hooked on a new book. "Just as long as it has something good in it," says the rising 8th grader. Gaske and her mother, Carrie, frequently go to the Anderson Road branch of the Greenville County library system to check out books. Recently, the teen found the book, "Neonomicon", in the library's adult section and thought it would be a real page turner. Kids above the age of 13 can check out books in the adult section, if they have their parents' permission. "It looked like a murder mystery comic book to me," recalls Carrie Gaske. "It looked like a child's book. I flipped through it, and thought it was ok for her to check out."Okay, I can understand if the parent has a problem with the sexual content and it does sound disturbing. But why would a murder mystery qualify as a perfect children's book? Do the two mediums/genres really go together? I used to watch Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury on TV years ago, but while most of the violence and other iffy content there was usually very indirect and off-screen, one of the reasons why it was broadcast at 8PM in the evenings on CBS, do I think of that as truly child-friendly material? Hardly.
After a few chapters, though, Gaske got a shock. "It was good at first," says Jennifer. "Then it got nasty." Her mother says, "She came into my living room and asked me what a certain word meant and I said honey where did you hear that word? I said that's a nasty word we don't use that in the house."
Inside the book, Gaske found graphic sexual content and pictures of nude men and women engaging in sexual activity. Seven on Your Side cannot show much of that content because it is so explicit. "The more into I got the more shocked I was, I really had no idea this type of material was allowed at a public library," says Carrie Gaske. "I feel that has the same content of Hustler or Playboy or things like that," she says. "Maybe even worse."
Parents certainly should be careful about what content a graphic novel for adults contains before allowing their children to read it, but it shouldn't just be because of sexual content. Even violent content has to matter, including what comes inside a murder mystery, which I don't think counts as a child-friendly genre.