Europe has a long-standing comic tradition, at least equal to that of America. Beyond Tintin and Asterix, there are hundreds of fantastic titles
with astonishing art, most of which never see the shores of the USA. However, when a lucky title does get the nod, something bizarre happens when European sensibilities face American censors.
Despite the constant reassurances by media in the USA that comics aren't just for kids anymore
, there still seems to be a prevailing belief that graphic novels should be at least vaguely kid friendly. In Europe that was never particularly an issue, and combined with that continent's generally more relaxed take on nudity, titles coming to the United States have often had to deal with some rather bizarre scrutiny.
(warning, links varying degrees of NSFW)
The excellent space adventure serious Sillage
(known as Wake
in English) chronicled a sole human who was discovered by an immense body of different aliens, who tries to track down others of her species.
The first seven volumes were published by NBM
who appear to have no desire to complete the series, or re-issue those already translated. The first volume concerns our heroine Navee, a semi-feral girl who inhabits a jungle planet. She's also topless. To pass American censorship requirements, NBM drew over her nipples with a felt marker. Example 1
, example 2
One of the more egregious examples is Jodorowsky's Incal
series. The main volume with his seminal collaboration with Moebius (previously
), and the prequel Avant L'Incal
both were recolored at one point in a hideous update which removed much of the nudity. I don't have any examples from Incal proper, but other people have noted it
, and the recolor was just generally unpleasant
. The censorship from the prequel is more widely observed
, and much of the incidental nudity was clipped. Thankfully, Humanoids recently re-issued Incal
with the original coloring and no edits in a single volume hardcover, now available in its second print.
Humanoids also produced two versions of some of one of Jodorowsky's other comics projects The Metabarons, with some editing
In recent years, Marvel comics took a brief swing at translating eurocomics under the Soleil imprint. While generally speaking, they've been pretty good about keeping content, they have been more than happy to remove a stray nipple or two. Sky Doll'
This is hardly a problem unique to European comics. Similar fates have been suffered by certain manga and anime in their transition to the United States, famously the Pokemon manga
(which was kinda racey), the popular shonen manga Tenjo Tenge
under DC's shortlived CMX imprint,
and pretty much any anime seen during after school hours.
Censorship isn't the only unpleasantness that these volumes can face during localization. Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese
is arguably one of the most influential European comics of the mid-to-late-20th century. As a character, he's been popular enough to be the face of Dior and have his own short-lived clothing line.
However, a recent print of the Ballad of the Salt Sea massively
edited the book to get it to fit on a smaller page size
, ruining a great deal of the book's particular flow and style.
Since official translations of many European titles are rare and often don't get reprinted, a small fan translation/scanslation scene has popped up. It's nowhere near the size of the one associated with manga, but for tracking down unedited versions, or books that never got translated, it's often the only option. The largest of these groups uses the Sobriquet Dragonz, and there scans pop up in the usual dens of comic book piracy.