Image Gets Rated

In keeping with film, TV, games, and just about every other form of media, Image Comics will adopt a ratings system for their comics, starting in July 2011. The system is consistent with what DC Comics started using earlier this year, and can be used as a way to differentiate which comics are appropriate for which audiences. The ratings go like this:

E – EVERYONE (all ages, may contain minimal violence)
T – TEEN (12 and up, may contain mild violence or mild profanity)
T+ – TEEN PLUS (16 and up, may contain moderate violence, moderate profanity use and suggestive themes )
M – MATURE (18 and up, may contain nudity, profanity, excessive violence and other content not suitable for minors)

Image publisher Eric Stephenson credited the move to retailers requesting some clearer defiinition as to which titles are for which audiences. That makes a lot of sense since Image publishes everything from kid friendly books like Super Dinosaur to the ultra gruesome Walking Dead. And that's just Robert Kirkman.

To be honest, the news is just representative of good business to me, and any accusations of censorship fall a little flat, especially since it's self imposed, and makes it easier to retailers and consumers to more easily distinguish what's going on inside the covers from the glut of material. I suppose if there was some outside pressure, something unfair mandating how they should market their products, that might be a bad thing, but this is pretty straight forward, and really depends on the policies of the individual retailers to decide how and who gets which Image books.


  1. This is good hope it catches on.  It also reminds me of when I picked up Shinku #1 and in the middle of it nothing but boobs (not complaining).  Wouldn’t want my kid to pick it up.

  2. Is this really big news? I mean Marvel has a rating system and you mentioned DC has one as well.

    Why it’s not obvious for parents to notice Walking Dead is not for kids is anyone’s guess. 

  3. Good move Image. First it shows responsibility from the publisher plus it’s just another bit of information for parents. Nothing at all wrong with the move.

  4. Marvel got into trouble with the ESRB when they used their ratings on covers (resulting in the creationg of their confusing – to me anyhow – current rating abbreviations).

    I wonder if the same will be true in this case?

  5. “Robert Kirkman” should just be one of the ratings.

  6. I get this, my lcs bags the mature titles so the kiddies can’t flip through them.  I asked them why, becasue sometimes I like to flip throug a book before I buy it.  They said to keep the store kid friendly, so parents wouldn’t have a problem with there teenagers hanging out there. 

  7. @TheNextChampion  Never underestimate the obliviousness of the audience. Even WITH the ratings, there will be angry parents complaining that a comic book has curses and nudity in it.

  8. @JohnVFerrigno It really is sad that parents don’t notice these things. Especially in the video game industry when it’s very easy to tell just from the box art what is and what isn’t appropriate for their kids.

  9. @TheNextChampion So, you contend that parents should be able to tell everything about the content from the title and cover?

    I don’t see the problem with Image self-policing.  It’s the responsible thing to do and doesn’t hurt anything. 

  10. @r3v When I see rotting corpses on a cover my first thought would be that my kid shouldn’t look at it.

    By the way I don’t mind a rating system. But the problem is that a lot of people don’t pay attention to them so they seem pointless to that extent.

  11. @TheNextChampion  A lot of people don’t pay attention to traffic signs either. Should we remove all of them, too?

  12. @TheNextChampion  Sure, Walking Dead is a pretty easy example of “it should be obvious”. Are you contending that all non-kid-safe material is so easy to judge from the cover though?

  13. Sadly, there are large heaving masses of the population who still think certain things (cartoons, comics) are automatically suitable for children by default. Of course, those people pay no mind to the rating system.

    By the way, trying to find information explaining what Marvel’s ratings mean was harder than obtaining the Ark of the Covenant last time I actively looked for it. 

  14. That fact that some people won’t pay attention to the ratings system isn’t a reason not to do it.  Some people, myself included, will.

    And yeah, Image’s system is more clear than Marvel’s. Are there really books marked “A” instead of “ALL AGES”? heh

  15.      As a parent, you should be involved and aware of every facet of entertainment and media that you purchase for or that a child purchases for themselves upto a certain age. Reviews and ratings for movies should be pre-read, you should know generally what they are reading and should actively read it even if it is crappy pre-teen books, you should watch the shows they watch, listen to the music they listen to even if it is some Pop crap that disney has spewed into the world and play the games they play.
        All this should be done not just to police the consumption of a child but so you can be intimately connected to the thought space your child might be in and heaven forbid engage them in conversations about themselves.
        Rather then be the Father or Mother who walks by and says “That stuff isn’t Rap it’s Crap.” or whatever other tired cliche from a derelict parent who can’t connect to their child because they read “Funny Books” and “dress stupid” and pre-judge what they do.
       A rating system is handy for a parent. A parent that only uses the rating system is still negligent. 

  16. @Crucio  I agree that it’s a tool and not a replacement for parenting (if you’ll pardon my summarizing.) 

    A ratings system allows a parent to make decisions at the store counter, though.  Then, if need be, they can pre-screen any possibly questionable content after they have made the purchase and before handing it off. 

    “Hey, sure, you can have this E-rated Ben-10 comic we got today, but I need to check out this other T-rated comic you picked out before you can read that one.” 

  17. @TheNextChampion Come on. CHEW looks like a kid’s cartoon show, but it ain’t written for kids. And there’s no way a parent would know that unless they themselves were reading it. Cherry-picking the example of THE WALKING DEAD is absurd.

  18. i agree…you can’t judge a book by its cover making cover art “age appropriate” is A LOT closer to censorship…its basically art directing a style, and for a company that is all creator owned, that is just stupid. like @mmyoung said with the excample of Chew. That book wouldn’t work as well if it were drawn in a more “serious” style. Common Sense please.

  19. @mmyoung: There’s been covers of Chew with huge amount of violence on it, especially with one having an eyeball pop up in someone’s soup (which looked like blood too). I agree that the cover for Chew can sometimes look kid friendly, but it can’t be that hard for a parent to flip through a comic to double check if it’s appropriate or not for their kids.

    Plus I never said anything about making covers age appropriate when they don’t need to be. Nor did I say it’s always easy to tell a comic is appropriate just by the cover. When I was referring to video games it’s easier because you can actually see the material on the back of the box. For comics, it’s not always so easy obviously.

    @JohnVFerrigno If someone ignores traffic lights/signs and something bad happens then that’s THEIR fault. 

  20. Nor did I say it’s always easy to tell a comic is appropriate just by the cover

    @TheNextChampion  You picked Walking Dead as an obvious example of how a parent can tell by the cover, so you can see how one might think you are trying to make that argument. If that’s not the case, then great.

    We’re probably all on the same page, I’m guessing…
    – Self-imposed ratings are good.
    – Parents should use them as tools, not replacements for parenting.
    – Some parents will ignore the ratings and complain anyways because said parents are dumb.


  21. There are some instances where I would be against these sorts of rating systems, like the lulz that would ensue if some christians came into my local store and bought Crossed thinking it was about Jesus.

  22. @r3v: I’m not sure why you think that’s a victory for you when Walking Dead is an obvious example.

    If a parent is letting a kid buy Walking Dead and ignoring what’s on the cover then that’s a pretty bad parent.

    Plus I don’t agree that ratings are always good. They might be a good idea, but always it seems in execution that the majority of the time they are ignored. But the other two points I agree with. 

  23. There’s a great film on rating systems with ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated’ which looks at why the MPAA is a bad idea. It’s mostly about films that get the NC-17 rating but still it shows just how useless and downright corrupt a rating system can get. 

  24. @TheNextChampion  Hrm. I didn’t mention “victory”… I was more looking for common ground and then had thought that we were on it. I guess I was wrong?

    I think we agree that Walking Dead has covers that should ring a parent’s alarm bells. It should be obvious, yes.  Right? We both agree? Right? Great.

    Can we stop talking about what’s obvious then? Self-Imposed ratings on NON-OBVIOUS content are helpful. Right? Are we in agreement? If not, then yes I guess we have a disagreement deserving debate.  If so, then we’re in agreement.  Nobody “won”… we already agree.

    Regarding “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”…. yes.  It’s great.  It’s not about self-imposed ratings. 

  25. screw the kids with lazy parents.

    i’ll benefit cause i’m too stupid to investigate prior to buying a book and sometimes pick up a G-rated snoozefest, this’ll work a treat.

    great idea.

  26. @Jimski  Hold on there for a minute.  You actively looked for the Ark??  Nice!

  27. I think this is a good idea, I just wonder why there isn’t an industry standard.

  28. As I said, there is no logical reason that there shouldn’t be ratings system. It is very helpful to parents that CARE what there kids are getting. It also protects the shops and the publishers by showing they are willing to inform people of the content before the buyer makes their purchase.

    If publishers want to create “mature” content, then there absolutely should be a ratings system just like movies, video games, and music.