I belong to an organisation called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF for short). Each year, every member pays to belong to this excellent outfit that protects freedom of speech for all comic book retailers.
As far as I am aware, the only publisher / retailer in the UK that has ever needed help has been Knockabout, who have successfully fought their corner over the years, and from their own pocket, I believe. Many of the cases they have been involved with occurred even before the foundation of the CBLDF.
Always one for covering my back, I have supported the CBLDF for many years now, just in case I ever needed help.
Over in the USA, the number of cases brought against stores, libraries and school libraries is quite astonishing – if you ever thought America was the land of the free, think again.
In 2017, the third most challenged book was Drama by Raina Telgemeir. This was the third time in four years that Drama had appeared in the top ten most challenged books for it features two gay characters and a kiss between two boys. Thankfully, these challenges (ie requests to have the book withdrawn and banned) have been successfully opposed by the CBLDF.
The list of books challenged by various narrow minded people over the last two decades include a roll call of some of our industry’s most lauded titles and creators. Here are a few examples, but be warned, if you haven’t read any of these yet, you might want to grab a copy soon in case they get banned!
- Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations (J.M. Straczynski) – Challenged because of a bikini-clad character. Shame on you Mary Jane Watson!
- Batman: The Killing Joke (Alan Moore) – Challenged because it advocates rape and violence?
- Tank Girl (various writers) – Challenged due to continual references to nudity and violence.
- Watchmen (Alan Moore) – This alternate history reimagines the genre by employing political allegory, adult themes and unprecedented inventiveness in a murder mystery involving flawed heroes. These same qualities led to Watchmen being challenged many times.
- Bone (Jeff Smith) – This humorous, mythical epic follows the adventures of Fone Bone and his two cousins Smiley and Phoney. This series is considered a modern classic, but has faced numerous challenges and in 2013 was the tenth most banned book! Despite a slightly scary monster or two, we would recommend this book to all ages.
- The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) – Challenged over violent imagery even though the prose novel is readily available anywhere and has not been challenged.
- This One Summer (Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki) – This graphic novel broke boundaries by becoming the first graphic novel in America that made the short list for the Caldecott Medal. The story addresses the challenges of adolescence in a sensitive and nuanced way, receiving wide acclaim. In the wake of this acclaim it became the most challenged book of 2016!
- Maus (Art Spiegleman) – The story of a son’s quest to learn about his father’s history as a Polish Jew who survived the holocaust. It was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1992. Challenged for being anti-ethnic and unsuitable for young readers!? What in the world are these people thinking?
- Persepolis (Majane Satrapi) – A graphic memoir of growing up during the Iranian revolution, this book has received international acclaim since it’s first publication (originally in French, now available in English). One could understand challenges in the middle East, but in middle America? It managed the number two spot for challenged books in 2014.
These are only a few examples. The long list also includes Palomar (Love and Rockets), Blankets, Saga, Pride Of Baghdad, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Sex Criminals, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, DragonBall and Sword Art Online.
Ace Comics could have been prosecuted every year if our store was in America!
Check some of these titles out, they are all wonderful examples of the best that the comic genre can deliver.
Biff’s Reading tip for the month
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!