I just got back from the Tennessee Comic Con. That’s the second convention I’ve been to since we’ve started posting pages for Ayla. So I think it’s time to talk about the language in Ayla. You know what I’m talking about. The swear words.
A sidebar but important in the scheme of things. Anyone that knows me will be or actually already is if they’ve read any of Ayla with the language. It’s not how I talk. Most people that know me can probably tell you that they’ve never heard me swear. I was talking on the phone to my ex-gf awhile back and a wall of shelves in my utility room collapsed and everything fell to the floor. I was in the other room when this happened and if sounded like a wall have fallen. I ran to the back, still on the phone, and when I saw the disaster I will admit a certain four letter word starting with F escaped my lips. The other side of the phone went silent. So quiet that I momentarily forgot the mess in front of me and asked if everything was ok. She haltingly asked where her bf was because it couldn’t be me, I didn’t talk like that. I shocked her.
When I was much younger, back in high school, I swore. Like all kids that age I was trying out words that I wasn’t supposed to say and seeing what I could get away with. Until one day my Dad heard my swearing. He didn’t say anything to me. But I didn’t like the face that he heard me talking like that. I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to use those words. And with a few exceptions here and there I’ve pretty much kept that promise.
Now I don’t say any of this to make myself look all pious and noble. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with swearing. It’s just not me.
So you might ask what are all the swear words doing in Ayla? It wasn’t a light decision I assure you.
Especially after doing both these cons and realizing that I’ve limited the audience I can pitch Ayla to. At Wizard World I had made copies of the first few pages of the comic and put them on my table. I figured as I talked about Ayla I could direct people’s attention to the pages and let them see for themselves what we were doing. Until the first kid started to look at the pages. Ooops, I grabbed them quickly and apologized that he really couldn’t look at the pages. After it happened a few more times I just picked the pages up and put them away. It’s not my decision if a kid should read these words. I’m sure some parents won’t mind. My parents never censored what I was reading as a kid and I came across words as bad or worse all the time.
As I stand out in front of my table handing out postcards for Ayla to anyone that walks by I realize that I have to bypass the younger con goers. And let me tell you there’s a lot of younger comic book readers attending conventions nowadays.
So why would I do something like this? Everything I’ve written before can pretty much be read by any ages. Some of it might be over the heads of some of the younger kids, but I don’t think there was anything that a parent might find reason not to lead their child read the comic. So I’ve intentionally restricted the size of my audience.
Like I said though, this wasn’t a quick or easy decision. When I wrote those first few pages I tried to use language that was tamer for Bolly. It just wasn’t who he was. I wanted this to be an adult story. We start off with prostitutes and later we’re going to feature strippers and other things that some parents might not find suitable for their youngsters. So having Bolly say “Gosh darn” or other milder forms of swearing just didn’t ring true to me. If you’re an adult think about most of your conversations. Not all of them are quite as colorful as Bollys, but how often does a four letter word drop in the middle of a sentence? It’s a fact of life today. Swear words aren’t all that shocking anymore. They’ve become part of our everyday language. You hear a lot of them on TV now.
I wanted the words the characters say to sound like the words you use with your family and friends.