Exploring Graphic Censorship
One of the issues nearest and dearest to the heart of Bookmans is free speech. In fact, we devote the month of September to the discussion and exploration of censorship. Many of us are familiar with famous novels like Alice in Wonderland and Animal Farm being challenged. Novels are not the only literature to make their way to court. Comics and graphic novels have also come under scrutiny. You would assume that works being looked at for inappropriateness would be, well, inappropriate. Maybe they would include foul language, sexuality, or excessively graphic violence. Think again. Let’s take a look at some of the comics and graphic novels facing censorship and the reasons why.
America loves our hero Superman, but Batman is just as popular. Not everyone thinks Batman is suitable reading material. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley and Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Boland were said to have “offensive language, sexism, and advocating rape and violence.” Unless things have changed radically in the Batman world, the Dark Knight works to fight these things. Fortunately, the courts sided with Bruce Wayne.
Graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel and Marbles-Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney have also seen their share of controversy. Fun Home, selected Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, People and USA Today, is a brilliantly sardonic look at one family’s relationships. This personal history is rich with literary allusion. It also has brilliant detail and covers many taboo subjects with wit, humor, and intelligence. Marbles follows Ellen Forney and her diagnosis of bipolar disorder right before her 13th birthday. Ellen confronts the label of “crazy artist” while trying not to lose her creativity. She’s also trying to keep her mental marbles while in the haze of multiple medications.
Most of us are familiar with the Archie comics and can’t imagine anything in them is inappropriate. Then they introduced Kevin, who by all accounts is the typical teenage boy next door. Things were fine until Kevin came out and identified himself as gay, this created a firestorm – just not in Riverdale. Right Wing Watch claimed that the newest storyline promoted the occult and homosexuality. Kevin’s storyline continued, even taking on the subject of gay bashing.
Bookmans proudly offers these works and other challenged titles. Your freedom to read ’em is our most precious concern. We can’t effectively promote the expression of ideas without having access to every perspective, even objectionable ones. Think what you want, read what you want, just don’t tell others they can’t!
* Bookmans cannot guarantee stock. If you are interested in a specific title mentioned in this article, give your local Bookmans a call and we’ll be happy to check our stock.