Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I was reading a thread on a webcomics discussion board about cursing in webcomics. Someone asked if they should have the actual curse words or replace them with characters like $@&%!. I do not have a problem with cursing in webcomics, and my advice to creators is to have some sort of heads up to readers that their webcomic does have adult language. It's just a nice courtesy because not all readers want to view a webcomic with profanity.

Another problem I see with some webcomics and comic books as well is that there seems to be a lack of finesse in how some writers use cursing in their work. I recall a line from A Christmas Story where the Ralphie as an adult narrator, Jean Shepherd said: "My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master." I've read scripts, webcomics, and comic books that have cursing just to shock the reader. When you use something unnecessary as shock value, then your work suffers.

As an example of finesse in cursing I've embedded the NSFW video clip of Alec Baldwin's speech from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. This speech is filled with profanity, but this is a Picasso of profanity. This works because it adds to the intensity of the sales meeting led by Baldwin. He's trying to get these guys in gear and get some properties sold. You might think he's being a bully, but he is actually getting the salesmen to do their best.

Cursing is up to the creator, but my advice is to do it right and use it because it works for the character. Readers know when writers use profanity and violence for shock value. Do something for shock value and readers will not bother reading any further because they see your work as juvenile. 

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