Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jam stains

I tried hiding some Spoiler text yesterday, which worked for anyone reading actually my journal, but seems to have failed for anyone on the various feeds. Which means that I'm not going to answer a few more spoilery Dr Who comments that came in. But I also got told off for spoiling the identity of the character that John Simm plays for anyone in countries that have not yet got the new Season 3. And while I take the point of the people writing in to grumble, I have to point out that this is the internet, and honestly, it was difficult not to know it mid-season, for those of us who didn't figure out what the backstory in this season would be from the combination of the end of the Christmas episode and the last scene of the first Martha Jones episode ("How did you DO that?" said Maddy, "I mean, you just knew it back then?" and all I could say was I've watched TV and it's not hard. The last of the big three baddies had to come back, after all). And once something like that has been broadcast, written about in the UK newspapers, and become part of the wealth of universal knowledge, it's sort of hard to avoid.

Hello Neil,
There seem to be a lot more people dropping your name recently. Here it is in today's Working Daze in reference to the upcoming Comicon.

That's so sweet.

Did you know you haven't used the word "parenting" at all? I'm looking for a little experienced advice on comics and young children. Recently my mother-in-law (normally a truly wonderfully helpful person) rearranged our bookshelves and put the comics down with the other picture books. I'm not paranoid about exposure to violence, but I'm not sure my 2-yr-old really needs to be flipping through The Watchmen instead of The Snowman. Do you have any words of wisdom?

I don't think it's a bad thing not to use the word "parenting", for I have no ideas at all about parenting, although I think I've figured out a few things about being a Dad in the last 24 years. (The main thing I've figured out is as long as you love them and treat them like you'd like to be treated, things mostly work themselves out. And that if you ever find yourself in an argument with a teenager, you've already lost.)

I can't see that Watchmen is going to be anything more than pictures to a two year old. And I'd worry a lot more about jam stains on your comics than exposure to violence. (They aren't being exposed to violence. They're being exposed to pictures.)

Most kids self-censor incredibly well. They reject things that they think look dull, or too scary or weird, or just too old for them. And often when they do get hold of stuff that's too old for them, they don't necessarily get what you're getting from it. (I've been accused of writing an explicit sex scene in Stardust and asked how I think that's okay for kids to read, and I have had to explain that the scene is only explicit if you bring yourself to it, not in the words used, and that it's significantly less explicit if you're a kid and you don't know what's being described.)

But a useful rule of thumb on what you give your kids access to is probably whether you're comfortable explaining it to them or not. If you don't feel comfortable answering the question of "What's that man with the splotchy face doing?" with "He's breaking that man's finger because he wants information about who pushed The Comedian out of the window and no-one in the bar is telling him anything," then probably you should move that stuff to a higher shelf, yes.

And then, as I said, there's the jam stains.


And look, you can see me pushing the new queen's cage into the honeycomb over at

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