George Gustines with The New York Times recently took a moment to explore the charitable organizations that help support the comics industry. In his article, “In Comics World, Needy Have Heroes of Their Own,” Gustines describes three major charitable efforts on behalf of comics, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
After describing the work of the Hero Initiative on behalf of comics creators, Gustines succinctly describes the heroic work of CBLDF:
While creators in need are at the core mission of the Hero Initiative, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a broader mandate: the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form, encompassing not just writers and artists but also retailers, publishers and readers.
Gustines goes on to describe the founding of the Fund in 1986 and its first case: Illinois v. Correa, in which comics shop manager Michael Correa was prosecuted for the sale of obscene materials:
The organization was founded in 1986 by Dennis Kitchen, an underground comic book artist and publisher of Kitchen Sink Press. At that time, Michael Correa, a manager at a comic bookstore in Lansing, Mich., was charged with possession and sale of obscene material, including copies of “Omaha the Cat Dancer,” an erotic comic strip, published by Kitchen Sink. Mr. Kitchen and friends raised money to hire the First Amendment lawyer Burton Joseph (he died in 2010). Mr. Correa was convicted, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. With money left over, Mr. Kitchen established the fund, believing “this wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time.”
Gustines further describes how CBLDF’s work has become even more important in defending comics readers such as Ryan Matheson.
You can read the entirety of Gustines’s article for The New York Times here.