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Marvel Wants You to Create Your Own Comics, but Only If You Leave out The “Social Issues”

Also, no farts allowed.

Marvel has announced the launch of a new app that gives users the ability to create their own comics using familiar characters. The app–appropriately titled–Create Your Own, invites fans to write and design new stories using Marvel’s existing stable of characters and stock background images, and share their work within the app’s community.

But of course, there’s a catch. While the app sounds pretty cool, Marvel has a long list of prohibited subjects and images that are not allowed in the fan-created stories. They’re all ostensibly designed to make sure the app stays “family-friendly,” and some of the restrictions are understandable if a little silly. For example, Marvel doesn’t want you putting any potentially frightening or sexual material in your adventures. No scary stuff, no revealing outfits, no implied drug use, no death or guns. Swear words are banned, but so are “proxies for bad or offensive language ([email protected]#%!).” Also, no double entendres.

Most of those, like the restriction on references to any non-Disney theme park or non-Marvel movie studio, are understandable. But the list goes on to ban other things, like “controversial topics,” including “social issues” and politics. I’m going to guess that means our heroes can’t fight things like racism or sexism or Trump himself. Can Captain America fight Nazis? That’s a comic book staple, but it’s somehow become a “controversial topic” again. Is Kamala Khan really banned from addressing Islamophobia? At whose discretion are these decisions made?

Most worrisome, though, is the ban on depicting “alternative lifestyle advocacies.” In theory, that can mean all sorts of things, but typically “alternative lifestyle” is an antiquated reference to the LGTBQIA community.

These rules immediately bring to mind the official censorship of the Comics Code Authority, which Marvel officially abandoned in 2001. So why are they now choosing to implement their own version of the outdated censorship guidelines?

To ask fans to create comics that ignore the issues that are important them, and to prohibit queer fans from writing stories that reflect themselves is not just offensive, but also makes the entire idea of this app sound utterly pointless. We can’t fight Nazis or homophobes or racists, but there’s also a ban on “sensationalism,” meaning no aliens, scandals, gossip, or even “killer bees.”

Oh, and according to the terms of service, Marvel also basically owns all of the comics users create. Boring, offensive, and potential artistic exploitation. A+ work here, Marvel.

(via The Verge, image: YouTube)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.