How Much is That Child Porn in My Comic Book?

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Savage Dragon 236

We've seen it happen before in comics and animation. Some artist gets bored, slips in a sly little reference to this or that, just to see how many people it will slip past before it gets caught, if ever. In UNIVERSE X SPIDEY #1, artist Al Milgrom famously hid a secret message telling off his old boss, Bob Harras. NEW MUTANTS had some spicy conversations in it, if one bothered to translate the demon-language substitution cipher of lettering. And don't even get us started on all the rumors about what people think they see in Disney animated films.

But there's no real guessing at what's involved in Image Comics' SAVAGE DRAGON #236, which features the four offspring of the titular character. The storyline, called "Savage Little Dragons" finds they tykes doing various kid activities -- crawling out of the crib, fighting with each other, watching underage rape porn on the television.

Wait. What?

Here's the page in question, written and drawn by SAVAGE DRAGON creator Erik J Larsen, co-founder of Image Comics.

As you can see, there's a lot going on in this page. But of particular interest are the panels with the television. Let us direct your action to the small screen and put them into focus for you:

A chid is hit in the head with a rock, then punched from behind. And then, yes, sodomized by the other child who is then seen walking away as he pulls up his pants.

Now, SAVAGE DRAGON is a mature readers title. We're sure it says that somewhere on the finished cover. And as such, this superhero title featuring a character who, at one time, was the star of his own animated series, is allowed to have it's mature jokes. But as in most instances, the creator is insulated from the audience by this buffer zone known as the Local Comics Shop. Those offended by the imagery and the concept it communicates are more likely to go to the point of sale where the comic was acquired, rather than to the publisher. Arbiters of community standards would simply harangue the local owner, and maybe cost him some business through word of mouth or other means.

Here's our take: mature jokes are mature jokes. But pedophile-pandering rape scenes aren't good for anybody, and they're certainly not good for comics.