21 Comic Book Challenges You Won’t Believe!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Half Price Books is committed to buying and selling anything printed or recorded, except yesterday’s newspaper! Did you know that HPB carries a great selection of comics, graphic novels and comic-related merchandise?

 

This year, we’ve teamed up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, our super heroes at protecting our right to read comics! Enjoy this post from our friend, Charles Brownstein, Executive Director at the CBLDF and we’ll see you this weekend! — Becky

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization that protects the freedom to read comics, and we’re proud to welcome Half Price Books to our roster of Corporate Members.  Many people ask whether censorship is still a problem facing comics, and the answer is a shocking yes.  In 2013 the year’s tenth most challenged book was Bone by Jeff Smith.  Last year also saw the Chicago Public Schools attempt to ban Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.  The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fights these challenges when they happen, getting involved at the first sign of trouble and assisting communities to help keep comics on the shelf.  We also create proactive resources to help increase understanding of comics before challenges occur.

Today we take a look at 21 surprising comics challenges, providing the title, where the challenge occurred, and the allegations brought against the book.  To read the full story of these challenges, or to learn more about the CBLDF’s important work, come on over to our website.

 1. Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna

• Location of key challenge: A middle-school library in Millard, Nebraska

• Reason challenged: Sexual overtones

The parent of a 6-year-old who checked out the book filed a complaint and took the story to the media; the parent also withheld the book for the duration of the review process rather than returning it per library policy. Read more here.

2. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

• Location of key challenge: Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio

• Reason challenged: Sexism, offensive language, and unsuited to age group

Despite the challenge, the library retained the book and now holds two copies, which are shelved in the Teen section. Read more here.

3. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Boland

• Location of key challenge: Columbus, Nebraska, Public Library

• Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

The library review board members present voted unanimously to retain the book when it was challenged by a single patron.  Read more here.

4. Blankets by Craig Thompson

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Blankets and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

5. Bone by Jeff Smith

• Location of key challenge: Independent School District 196 in Rosemount, Minnesota

• Reason challenged: Promotion of smoking and drinking

A letter from Jeff Smith decrying the attempted ban of his book was read aloud at the library review committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and the CBLDF. Read more here.

6. Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

• Location of key challenge: All public school libraries in Wicomico County, Maryland

• Reason challenged: Violence and nudity

The library review committee recommended that the books in the Dragon Ball series, which were recommended by the publisher for ages 13+, be removed from the entire public school library system, including at the high school level. Read more here.

7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

8. Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

• Location of key challenge: A high school in Guilford, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity, coarse language, and brief non-sexual nudity

A high school teacher was forced to resign from his job after a parent filed both a complaint with the school and a police complaint against the teacher for lending a high school freshman a copy of Eightball #22, which was later published as the graphic novel Ice Haven. Read more here.

9. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

• Location of key challenge: Multiple locations

• Reason challenged: Nudity

In the Night Kitchen was not often removed from shelves; instead, librarians censored it by painting underwear or diapers over the genitals of the main character, a precocious child named Mickey. Read more here.

10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

• Location of key challenge: Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky

• Reason challenged: Sex scenes

Two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from circulation because they felt it was pornographic. Read more here.

11. Maus by Art Spiegelman

• Location of key challenge: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California

• Reason challenged: Anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group

Nick Smith of the Pasadena Public Library describes the challenge as being “made by a Polish-American who is very proud of his heritage, and who had made other suggestions about adding books on Polish history… The thing is, Maus made him uncomfortable, so he didn’t want other people to read it. That is censorship, as opposed to parental guidance.” Read more here.

12. Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Greenville, South Carolina

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite giving her 14-year-old daughter permission to check out the book, which was appropriately shelved in the adult section of the library, a mother filed a complaint, claiming the book was “pornographic.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, but it remains out of circulation pending review. Read more here.

13. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Chicago, Illinois

• Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

Furor erupted when Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. CPS backpedalled on the initial email, sending a second email clarifying that the book was to be retained in libraries. It was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and remains under review for use in Grade 8 -10 classrooms. Read more here.

14. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henricho

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite receiving high praise from the ALA and Booklist and featuring a cast consisting of animals, the book has been challenged at libraries for sexual content. Read more here.

15. Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group

When asked about how he felt when Sandman was labelled unsuitable for teens, Gaiman responded, “I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” Read more here.

16. Side Scrollers by Matthew Loux

• Location of key challenge: The public school district in Enfield, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity and sexual references

The school district removed the book from non-compulsory summer reading lists, possibly violating its own review policy, which states in part that “no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book and is still awaiting a response from the school board. Read more here.

17. Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Dixfield, Maine

• Reason challenged: Language, sexual content, and drug references

CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, and the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book. “While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” said Executive Director Charles Brownstein. Read more here.

18. Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

• Location of key challenge: Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas

• Reason challenged: Depiction of homosexuality

The book was challenged alongside 15 other young adult books with gay positive themes. The book was ultimately retained in the Montgomery County system, but was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult. Read more here.

19. Tank Girl by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett

• Location of key challenge: Hammond Public Library in Hammond, Indiana

• Reason challenged: Nudity and violence

The Tank Girl books are meant to entertain an adult audience, frequently depicting violence, flatulence, vomiting, sex, and drug use. After the 2009 challenge, the Hammond Public Library chose to retain the book, and it remains on shelves today. Read more here.

20. The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Nudity, sexual content, and unsuited to age group

When the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011, the second-most challenged book on that list was The Color of Earth, the first book of a critically-acclaimed Korean manwha, or comic book, series. Read more here.

21. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Unsuited to age group

Watchmen received a Hugo Award in 1988 and was instrumental in garnering more respect and shelf space for comics and graphic novels in libraries and mainstream bookstores. The inclusion of Watchmen in school library collections has been challenged by parents at least twice, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Read more here.

Charles Brownstein is the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

2 thoughts on “21 Comic Book Challenges You Won’t Believe!

  1. Alas, these are probably some of the same people who would have no trouble at all with books that collected comic book stories from the 1940s, which depicted African-Americans as Sambo caricatures and other ethnic groups in the broadest, most offensive stereotypes. Kudos to those libraries that resisted the requested censorship.

  2. Glad to see that some adults are bothering to see the contents of what their children are reading. There is still a place in parenthood for banning age-inappropriate material.I do not advocate banning literature or expression on any level to adults, just for impressionable youth. Lack of discretion is dumbing down our children; erosion of tradition is breaking down our society. Humanity is losing much when parents stop parenting.

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