Portland, OR (June 21, 2018) – The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting First Amendment rights, is proud to welcome Gene Luen Yang to its Board of Directors. A celebrated cartoonist and teacher, Yang served as the fifth National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature, where he launched the Reading Without Walls challenge. His graphic novels include American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints, which have earned prestigious national honors including the ALA’s Printz Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Eisner Award, two National Book Award nominations, and recognition as a Macarthur Fellow. In addition to his cartooning work, Yang writes comics for other artists, including the series Secret Coders, and franchises Avatar: The Last Airbender, Superman, and New Super-Man. He is also an accomplished teacher of creative writing in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Despite a dedication to encouraging cultural understanding in his creative work, Yang’s books are also frequent targets of censorship.
“I’m so excited to be joining the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund,” Gene Yang says. “Like many people, I’ve found it more and more difficult to wrap my head around issues of free speech because of recent news events. However, I still believe that, to borrow a phrase from poet Liu Xiaobo, free expression is the mother of truth. The CBLDF has been at the forefront of these issues for many years now, which makes our work more important than ever. ”
CBLDF President Larry Marder says, ” Gene is an irresistible creative dynamo. His entire body of work is about the challenges of human conflict and how people resolve them in order to live with each other. The CBLDF’s First Amendment mission and educational outreach programs will greatly benefit from his thoughtful, inclusive approach to problem solving.”
Yang’s addition to the CBLDF Board of Directors bolsters the organization’s efforts to protect First Amendment rights of readers, creators, librarians, retailers, publishers, and educators who face the threat of censorship. He joins creators Reginald Hudlin, the iconic writer, producer and director behind films including Marshall, Django Unchained and the Black Panther animated series; three-time Newbery honoree Jennifer L. Holm; celebrated comics authors and executives Paul Levitz and Larry Marder; Bone creator Jeff Smith; as well as industry leaders Jeff Abraham, president of Penguin Random House Publisher Services; Ted Adams, CEO of IDW Media Holdings, legendary IP litigator Dale Cendali, a Partner at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP; ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp; Sequential Tart founder Katherine Keller; DCBS Service co-owner Christina Merkler, and Chris Powell, VP Retailer Services at Diamond Comics Distributors, in serving on the Fund’s Board in direct oversight of its activities protecting the freedom to read.
For more than thirty years, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has protected the First Amendment rights of comics field and developed powerful education efforts in the service of the community. CBLDF has defended a wide range of cases in 2018, most recently a challenge to the graphic novel Fun Home in New Jersey. The organization also produced important resources, notably Be Heard!, a comic book for students to help them understand their protest rights. To learn more about the CBLDF, please visit www.cbldf.org.
About Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. As the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he advocates for the importance of reading, especially reading diversely. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award Finalist. His other works include Secret Coders (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man from DC Comics (with various artists), and the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru). In 2016, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. For more, visit www.geneyang.com.
About Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization protecting the freedom to read comics! Our work protects readers, creators, librarians, retailers, publishers, and educators who face the threat of censorship. We monitor legislation and challenge laws that would limit the First Amendment. We create resources that promote understanding of comics and the rights our community is guaranteed. Every day we publish news and information about censorship events as they happen. We are partners in the Kids’ Right to Read Project and Banned Books Week. Our expert legal team is available to respond to First Amendment emergencies at a moment’s notice. CBLDF is a lean organization that works hard to protect the rights on which our community depends. For more information, visit www.cbldf.org.