It’s taken over a hundred strips, but finally we felt the need to put a real, genuine swear word in. We came close once before, but that joke required the profanity to be cut short. Initially we tried putting a “Censored” sticker on the swear word in this strip, but I felt that the joke only really worked with the word spelled out in full. Vince was still wary about that, so we compromised with the addition of the first panel with the Parental Advisory warning. We won’t be making a habit of such language, but as the whole strip is all about the use of swear words in sci-fi, it seemed appropriate in this case.

Personally I’m not a fan of sci-fi swear words. There is plenty of great drama that manages perfectly well without profanities of any kind, and the trouble with the fake cussing used in sci-fi is that it’s so blatantly transparent. Are our sensibilities so fragile that we can’t hear a word like “Fuck”, but not so fragile that obvious synonyms like “Frell” and “Frak” should be banned?

I have the same complaint about ducking offensive words in songs. When Jay-Z informs us that he has “99 problems, but a ….. ain’t one” with the offending word silenced, am I the only person whose mind automatically fills it in? And if we’re all doing that, what exactly is the point of silencing it in the first place?

Of course it all comes round to society’s peculiar notions of how we should protect children. If we’re really concerned about kids hearing offensive words then we should enforce ratings systems and watersheds. Jay-Z’s record company might not like it if “99 Problems” is relegated to post 9pm play, and only sold to people over 15, but that’s the compromise they should have to live with if they want to release a song with offensive language in. The same goes for sci-fi: forget the frelling, frakking language and either live with the commercial consequences of swear words in your programmes, or forego the cussing entirely.

Apologies if anyone has been offended by this comic or commentary. If it makes you feel any better, we advise only reading it if you’re over 15, and then only after 9pm, with no young children present.

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↓ Transcript
[Initial scene is covered by a Parental Advisory sticker]


[Scene shows two Grey children playing with toy spaceships. Their mother is looking in through the door]

G1: Take that you frakkers. My frakking Viper will shoot you into frakking pieces

G2: No way. Eat dren you frelling, motherfrakker!

G1: Oh shrock! I've been hit! I've been frakking hit!

[Mother enters the room]

Mother: Stop that right now!
I won't have swearing in this house.
Especially not the "F" word!

G1 & G2: Sorry mum

Mother: If you have to speak like that, at least use a made-up word like “Fuck”