In addition to his web-only comic Pibgorn, Brooke McEldowney also has produced a strip called 9 Chickweed Lane since 1993 which is both online and also carried by over 50 papers nationwide. Compared to Pibgorn’s fantasy setting of magic and mayhem, 9 Chickweed Lane tells the down-to-earth story of three generations of women, grandmother, mother, and daughter and the characters and relationships they encounter. Currently the strip is focused on the daughter, Edda, and the life she is building as a dancer, as well as the relationship she is building with her childhood friend and love interest Amos.
McEldowney occasionally takes syndicates to task over issues such as censorship and content standards. At one time, after being subject to editorial control of Pibgorn’s content, he allowed the contract for the comic to expire in order to move it to a more accommodating website. This past Sunday on his 9 Chickweed Lane strip, McEldowney pointed out a notorious incongruity in standards and practices for published content in the United States, namely that of the degree of acceptable violence versus the degree of acceptable adult language and situations.
While I admire his convictions, I have trouble taking a consistent side in this debate. After writing my post yesterday on The Amazing Spider-Man daily strip and its intended audience of children, strips which are intended for younger audiences are fresh in my mind. However, I also understand that there are works for older audiences that should be free of censorship, for if they were censored then both their quality and the readers’ enjoyment will suffer as a result. Unfortunately, not only are most webcomics accessible without an age check, often strips intended for different age groups are found adjacent to each other on the same website.