ASBaR #10 Recalled. Frank Miller Drops the ‘C Bomb’, and the Internet Explodes! [Updated]


What on Earth! I came into work this morning, turned the computer on, and it seems that the Twitterverse and the interwebs were roaring with the flames of controversy. It seems that DC have issued a general recall on all issues of All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #10. DC issued no statement as to why this was, but sources are saying that it was due to a printing error. Printing error eh? Well, it’s lucky we have those people who hits the store first thing on a Wednesday, and of course, those store that just ignored the recall. A few of these people have scanned images in of the mis-printed pages. Let’s see what all the fuss is about:

Close ups:

OK then. I can see why DC might want to recall that. I wouldn’t be offended by that myself, but I can see how other people would. People on several sites and forums are losing their heads that DC would ever let this happen, with many offended that DC would ever allow language like this in a book that they see as being aimed at children. Obviously these people have never actually read an issue of ASBaR, as they would realize that children are clearly not the intended audience. Still, it has to be assumed that it will inevitably end up in the hands of a child somewhere.

In some places this is kicking off a debate about censorship, on Twitter in particular. I don’t know if I would say it was censorship. Blacking out the words to begin with is censorship, even using #$%&^# in place of foul language is censorship, and comics have been doing that for years. Doing a recall is just DCs way of trying to cover their ass from being sued by tonnes of angry parents. But It’s really like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

I find it hard to believe that this could pass though the net like this. Why weren’t those words blacked out properly? It would seem that the pages were printed first, then blacked out after the initial printing. This would have to be the case, as the words are imprinted on the paper. Surely it would have just been a lot easier if the letterer took a sharpie and marked through it; or if it was done digitally, it could easily have been blacked out on the computer. Actually, why did the letterer put those words on the page in the first place? Surely he would have read the script, gotten to the words, and just placed a black bar in place of them. In fact, you’d think that editorial would have removed this from the script when Miller sent it in for approval. Nope, what happened is that they printed all of these pages uncensored, then went back and printed the black bars over them. There is no other way for this to happen if you think about it.

This all sounds very fishy to me. There are too many reasons why this shouldn’t have happened, and indeed, how if could not have happened by accident. This might get me flamed a bit, but what the fuck! What if DC just let this happen? Yeah, the recall will cost them a lot of money, but how many retailers do you think are really going to send back all their copies? There is no doubt that this has spread around like wildfire, it is featured on sites all over the net, and will have people piling into stores just to get a look at it. While they are there they might even pick up the first ASBaR trade, oh and “I’ll get a few other DC comics while I’m here”. Could this be a very ballsy and very drastic marketing strategy? God knows that DC could use the sales spike, even the buzz around The Dark Knight didn’t do much for their sales for the last month. Who knows? I’m just saying, that no press is bad press!


Ian Sharman, Co-Founder, Managing Editor, Writer, Inker, Colourist, Letterer, and Pre-Press for Orang Utan Comics has just contacted me with some interesting information as to how this error could have occurred. He has a lot of experience with printing, and said:

Oh, I see what’s happened…the lettering is a mix of CMYK to make it look properly black, but the strike out is just black. Hence the cyan, magenta and yellow ink has gone down on top of the black bar and left the word legible. It’s something that would only show up when the book has been printed. PDF proofs or inkjets wouldn’t show it.

I asked whether DC would have seen a final printing mock up before the full print was initiated, as my wife was a magazine writer and editor, until recently, and they always did this. He said:

Unfortunately people rely on soft proofs and inkjets so much these days no-one bothers to check what comes off the press.

So there you have it, I can see that when you have so many hundreds of comics and trades going to press every month, doing a check of what comes off the press would be rather unmanageable. Still, with the content contained here you would think that special attention would be paid to it, but mistakes happen I guess!

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3 Responses to “ASBaR #10 Recalled. Frank Miller Drops the ‘C Bomb’, and the Internet Explodes! [Updated]”
  1. John Reppion says:

    “So there you have it, I can see that when you have so many hundreds of comics and trades going to press every month, doing a check of what comes off the press would be rather unmanageable [...]“

    Or, don’t randomly write swearing into your comics for no good reason when it’s obvious that they’re going to have to censor those words. Just a suggestion.

  2. Edward Kaye says:

    Yeah, there is no real excuse for this. Miller wanted to put it in, so he just did. Obviously he didn’t think there would be any repercussions, or even care if there were.

    It’s not a specific adult title, and it really added nothing to the narrative there, and I just can’t imagine a young Batgirl saying those things. Though if you’ve read the previous issues, everyone in the series acts like an arsehole all the time. Everyone is insane, and they all talk in that terrible wooden way he writes all his dialogue now.

    So many way this could have been prevented, starting with Miller himself, but the letterer, and the editor should also have just scrubbed it out and either asked for a rewrite, or used the classic $#%^@.

    In the eyes of his hardcore fans though, I think this will just elevate him.

    I dropped the title on issue #4, but my comic shop was selling #5-#9 in a pack for $5, so i picked them up out of a sort of morbid curiosity. Haven’t read them all yet though. I can imagine it would take about 10 minutes to do the lot, it’s not like the guy is big on words or anything

  3. Chris says:

    When this book first started I thought it was ‘all ages’ as well — have a few comments @

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