Of Swastikas and Supermen - The Boys #34 Cover Story

Of Swastikas and Supermen - The Boys #34

At last week's WizardWorld: Philadelphia, Dynamite Entertainment stated that, due to the swastika appearing on the cover of The Boys #34 by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the comic would not be able to be sold in Germany, due to law prohibiting display of the symbol that was used by the Nazis in World War II.

The mention stirred up discussion among some fans of the German law, and in the eyes of some, Dynamite cutting off a segment of the global marketplace.

We spoke with Robertson and Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci about the cover and the constraint.

Newsarama: Darick, what went into this cover design for you?

Darick Robertson: It was, as most of The Boys covers are, a collaboration based on an idea of Garth's. Since he knows the plots of the stories before I do, I usually follow his creative lead and work to give him something he 's happy with that fits his vision of the series.

NRAMA: And this particular cover was a nod to Frank Quitely, right?

DR: Right. It was a nod in that I am a huge fan of his awesome work and that All Star Superman series. It's wonderful stuff. I also saw this as a great parody because that character on the cover, Stormfront is the opposite of everything Superman is, so it was fitting to show him in an iconic way that invokes the intentionally negative feeling the cover gives off.

NRAMA: And for readers who may be coming in fresh – have we seen Stormfront before?

DR: He’s the leader of the team 'Payback' who appeared in The Boys #7 and on a faux cover in issue #20.

NRAMA: The issue has been raised that it won't be allowed to ship to Germany because of the swastika. What are your thoughts on this?

DR: It seems to be a bit of selective censorship in my opinion. There's no consideration being given to the fact that the fictional character bearing the swastika is a massive douche-bag and that we aren't promoting him as a good guy in the story.

Captain America's villains sport swastikas [editor's note, and on covers of Ed Brubaker's current Captain America run on issue #6 at least], and that seems to be OK on a cover. Tom Cruise recently played a Nazi trying to kill Hitler and that was a major film release, but we put a swastika on our bad guy and suddenly we're stepping over a line? Indiana Jones fights Nazis but The Boys can't? Where's the line? Stormfront is an evil bastard. I think the cape is appropriate.

NRAMA: Nick - the use of the swastika on the cover of the issue precludes it from being sold in Germany. Was this something you knew about before you approved of the cover, or was it something that you realized after?

Nick Barrucci: Diamond pointed it out to us as we were handing pages in. It was an easy choice, let the creative freedom of Garth and Darick be compromised or loose sales. We went with giving the writer/artist their First Amendment rights.

NRAMA: Sure, but why not change it? Admittedly, I’m not sure what your sales in Germany are like, but is it wise in this market to cut off any segment of the marketplace?

NB: It would compromise what two creators had worked on and were building in the story. This is story specific and Darick choose a pretty powerful image to create homage to. Why tinker with it at all?

NRAMA: You showed it prominently on the cover, but is this just a cover thing, or is the swastika prominent throughout the issue?

DR: It's part of his design, but Carlos Ezquerra is drawing the issue so I'm not sure if he used it throughout.

NRAMA: Nick – same question: is the character and his swastika presented fully throughout the issue?

NB: I don't read The Boys until it's printed and in my hands. Guarantees that I will resist the urge to suggest things taken out. Like the scenes in Herogasm #2, which prompted Lone Star Comics to return their entire order of The Boys: Herogasm #2.

NRAMA: Will Stormfront be showing up on more covers of the issues to come?

DR: Not on the covers, but I don't want to give away plot points,..

NRAMA: Fair enough. Finally, what's your take on the German law that forbids swastikas in print or otherwise?

DR: I'm not German, I don't live in Germany and if they don't want to sell that issue, it's their prerogative, but I can assure you our use of the swastika in fiction is not the first. We aren't promoting the swastika as a good thing.

With all due respect for people's feelings about it, sometimes you have to look the monster in the face to stop him.

If we start pretending that the symbols that evil wears are where its power lies, and that by taking away the symbol we make the evil go away, or that by hiding the symbols we have defeated the enemy, then we just distract ourselves from looking for evil where it truly is. There are a sad amount of people who still see power and glory in that symbol and I don't have any problem showing them as cartoons. That's the job art is supposed to do. Art makes us look at things differently. This character is an evil bastard and that's his cape of choice. I hope people get a huge laugh from these issues.

NRAMA: Your final word on it Nick?

NB: I think it's a law made to protect its citizen's of one of humanity's most vile and evil dictator's legacy. I don't find it malice in any way, though am concerned that if something that has a purpose (a story that touches on literature), can affect creativity.

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