January 18, 2006

An Immodest Proposal

Recently, James of The Comics Asylum and I had a brief discussion about a rating system for comics. Although he and I disagreed, I broke normal blogosphere etiquette, and did not leave random comments disparaging his parentage, nor did I refer to him by any insulting nicknames. However, in the spirit of true democratic debate, I wanted to offer an alternative to an industry-wide ratings system.

I think comic books should be rated by IQ points.

Now, in all fairness, Polite Scott could do a better job of explaining it, but I will link to these sites for an overall explanation of IQ. In my system, every comic begins with 100 points, automatically. However, points are added and subtracted due to various factors, and the book receives an overall grade.

Let's see how this works practically:
  • If a comic features creative use of continuity, it gains 50 points; if it uses continuity only to pander to nostalgic fanboys, it loses 50 points
  • If a comic features zombies, it gains 75 points; mutants, it loses 75 points. (80 if it has an X in the title)
  • If a comic features a well-known franchise outside of comics (for example, Star Trek), it loses 25 points.
  • If a comic features Batman as the "world's greatest detective", it gains 50 points; if it features "Batman as lonely, Travis Bickle-esque psychotic", it loses 60 points.
  • Reviving old, obscure characters....no points. Nada. No gain, no loss.
  • If a comic is written by Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, and/or John Byrne, it loses 60 points; however, if it is written by Grant Morrison, it gains 150 points
  • If a comic is written by Will Pfeiffer or Fred Hembeck, it gains 500 points. Instantly. No argument. Deal.
  • If a comic features Aquaman, it gains 150 points. If it features Wildcat, it gains 150 points. If it features Aquaman and Wildcat, it gains 500 points.
  • (Yes, the above post is a blatant pander to Laura and Dorian. There. I admit it.)
  • If a comic features T & A, you need to determine who the writer is - if it's Howard Chaykin, it gains 85 points; if it's Frank Miller, it loses 70 points. Anyone else, it loses 95 points
Now, who would be the determining party? One might argue "the comics industry" - however, an industry that can't even police its male members in matters of appropriate conduct towards the opposite sex shouldn't be trusted. (Don't believe me? Trust me - if I referred to a female comics blogger as "sweetcheeks", the blogosphere would hold me accountable, so much so that the Internet would crack in half, get fried in a pan, and be served on a plate with hash browns and bacon). My suggestion - the IQ Committee would consist of me, Scipio from The Absorbascon, Lyle Waggoner, and Bobo the Wonder Chimp.

Now, I would like to take this time to agree with James on one matter - that if comic companies and creators slapped their own label on a work, that's OK, because it serves as a guide and shows corporate accountability. However, trying to get an entire industry to conform to standards that would, admittedly, shift with an ever-diversifying audience...and then expect the industry to always conform, would be near impossible.

Now, I'm sure the hipper-than-thous among you would disagree, or come up with some character-defaming comments. However, let me quote the immortal Buddy Cole, who stated,
My goal is not to shock and horrify, but to tell the truth. And if that truth shocks and horrifies, well....maybe you should get out more

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