Local bookstore chain Popular on Thursday (Oct 13) pulled a comic book from its shelves after parents raised concerns about whether its content was appropriate for children.
The book, titled Bro, Don't Like That La, Bro #2: My Bad Bromance is by Malaysian comics blogger Ernest Ng, who documents life with his housemates - the eponymous "bros" - in his webcomic of the same title. The series has spun off several books, including the one flagged by a reader in Singapore.
A Facebook user by the name of "Mylilbookworm" posted photos of the cover and several pages of the book, telling parents to "beware of such comics" and adding that they were being sold at Popular, which has outlets across Singapore's heartland.
The pages in the book shown in the photos contain references to "gugubird", a colloquial term for penis, as well as a scene involving one of the series' main characters, Daryl, whose "special ability" involves going "from zero to naked in 2.9 seconds".
"Mylilbookworm" added that there were "quite a number of kids reading it already" and some of them were in Primary 2. Facebook user Lisa Justine commented on the post, saying her son's classmate had brought the book to class last year but that she had only just found out. "I screen his books but I can't screen what others show him," she wrote.
While several thanked "Mylilbookworm" for alerting them to the book, others said that it was clear the book was targeted at an older audience. Facebook user Deborah Tan wrote: "I appreciate that there would be some merit here if you had intended to highlight the fact that the comic has adult content to parents who may not have realised. But what you said instead was that the comic should be taken off the shelf which is quite a step too far."
Nonetheless, Popular said it took "immediate action" to pull the book from its shelves. In a media statement, the bookseller said: "The book in question is meant for ages 18 and above. In order to prevent those who do not meet the criterion from accessing the book, each copy comes with a warning label indicating its mature content."
Popular added that the book was also categorised under 'Local Interest', as indicated on the category label above the barcode on the back cover.
"We understand the concerns of the public regarding the sale of the book in our stores," it said.
In a media statement, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) said that it received feedback from members of the public expressing concern about a comic book containing mature content at Popular Bookstore.
IMDA noted that Popular has clarified that the book is meant for consumers aged 18 and above and that the books have since been removed from its bookstores.
"Publications which contain mature content should be treated responsibly to avoid accidental exposure to young children," said IMDA.