Banned Comics

Every year people try to take away readers’ power to decide what books are right for themselves or their children to read by bringing challenges to remove books from libraries. Comic books, graphic novels, and manga are frequently challenged and even banned. Use CBLDF’s free resources to learn more about comics censorship, and how you can help fight for free expression!

Why Comics Are Banned

Book banning is nothing new. Books are frequently banned for containing “adult content,” “language,” “sex/nudity,” or not being “age appropriate.” Comics are uniquely vulnerable to challenges because the medium thrives on the power of static images, and because there is a lingering stigma that comics are low-value speech. Some challenges are brought against comics because a single page or panel can be taken out of context, while others come under attack because of the mistaken notion that all comics are for children. Learn more about why comics are banned here.

What CBLDF Does To Help

The CBLDF assists educators and librarians by providing access to resources and writing letters of support in cases where comics are challenged. Every year CBLDF helps those fighting challenges on the front lines and stands ready to address new ones when they occur. CBLDF is also an active sponsor of Banned Books Week and the Kids’ Right To Read Project, initiatives that create tools and perform activities that advance the freedom to read.

What You Can Do To Help

You can make a difference in protecting the freedom to read! This Banned Books Week, make a difference by engaging your community with a Banned Comics event or display, making a contribution to CBLDF, or spreading the word online. See our tool kit about how you can help support the CBLDF’s efforts here.


Case Files:

Banned & Challenged Comics

Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations 

spider-man-revelations-198x300

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. More…

Barefoot Gen

Barefoot Gen Cover

by Keiji Nakazawa

• Location of key challenge: Japan

• Reason challenged: Violence, discrimination

Keiji Nakazawa’s internationally renowned manga Barefoot Gen, which depicts wartime atrocities from the perspective of the seven-year-old protagonist, has fallen victim to several challenges in its home country of Japan. More…

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

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

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. More…

Batman: The Killing Joke

Killingjoke

by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland

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

• Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

In May 2013, a patron of the public library in Columbus, Nebraska requested that the book be removed from the collection, claiming that it “advocates rape and violence.” More…

Blankets

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. More…

Bone

bone_vol1

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 CBLDFMore…

The Diary of a Teenage Girl 

diaryby Phoebe Gloeckner

• Location of key challenge: Undisclosed

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Artist and comics creator Phoebe Gloeckner has never been afraid to show the raw and gritty bits of reality in her work. For that reason, Gloekner’s work is a frequent target of censors. In 2015, CBLDF was involved in a confidential challenge against the graphic novel over its sexual content. More…

Dragon Ball

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. More…

Drama

dramacover

by Raina Telgemeier

• Location of key challenge: Chapel Hill Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Although most readers of all ages found Drama to be just as endearing and authentic as Telgemeier’s other books Smile and Sisters, a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters. More…

The Color of Earth

color of earth  by Kim Dong Hwa

• Location of key challenge: Various

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

When the ALA’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. More…

Fun Home

180px-Funhomecover by Alison Bechdel 

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF has stood up for Fun Home numerous times as it has been banned, challenged, and even the basis of a civil lawsuit against a high school. In 2014, the book faced a greater challenge in South Carolina, where the state legislature debated punitive budget cuts against the College of Charleston because it incorporated Fun Home into a voluntary summer reading program for incoming freshman. More…

The Graveyard Book

Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

• Location of key challenge: Undisclosed

• Reason challenged: Violent imagery

In February 2015, CBLDF was confidentiality involved in the defense of the graphic novel edition of The Graveyard Book, which was challenged in an undisclosed middle school library for violent imagery. More…

Ice Haven 

eightball 22

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 HavenMore…

In The Night Kitchen

200px-Sendak-nightkitchen

by Maurice Sendak

• Location of key challenge: Various

• 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. More…

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier

250px-BlackDossierCover

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. More…

Maus

250px-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 described 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…” More…

Neonomicon

neonomicon

by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

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

• 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.” More…

Palomar

Palomar

by Gilbert Hernandez

• Location of key challenge: Rio Rancho, New Mexico

• Reason challenged: Sexual content, child pornography

In early 2015, the critically acclaimed comic collection Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez was called “child porn” by the mother of a high school student in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. More…

Persepolis 

Persepolis

by Marjane Satrapi

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. The following year it the #2 spot on the American Library Association’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books for that year. More…

Pride of Baghdad

Prideofbaghdad

by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

• 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. More…

Saga

saga_vol1

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

• Location of Challenge: Apple iOS (2013), Oregon (2014)

• Reason challenged: Sexual content, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, and unsuited for age group.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples sci-fi epic adventure, Saga, has become one of the bestselling and most critically acclaimed comic series and also one of the most controversial. More…

Sandman

abssandman

by Neil Gaiman and various artists

• Location of key challenge: Various

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

After Sandman was labeled 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.” More…

SideScrollers

sidescrollers

by Matthew Loux

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

• 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.” More…

Stuck in the Middle

stuckinthemiddle

edited by Ariel Schrag

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

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

Dixfield’s school board voted to leave the book on library shelves but required parental permission to check it out. “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 CBLDF’s Executive Director. More…

Stuck Rubber Baby

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. More…

Tank Girl

tankgirl

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. More…

This One Summer

thisonesummer-212x300

by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Sexual content, unsuited to age group

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki broke boundaries by becoming the first graphic novel to make the short-list for the Caldecott Medal. It has also appeared on multiple annual lists of ALA’s Most Challenged and Banned Books.  More…

Watchmen

watchmen-trade-paperback

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. More…

Y: The Last Man

bkv y last man hc

by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

• Location of key challenge: Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

In June 2015, Y: The Last Man was one of four graphic novels that a 20-year-old college student and her parents said should be “eradicated from the system” at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. More…


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