Book banning is a constant problem, and as comics become a more important part of today’s library environment, they are increasingly vulnerable to challenges and bans.
Comics are challenged for all of the same content reasons that other books are challenged, but are uniquely vulnerable to challenges because of the medium’s visual nature. Comics are frequently banned for containing “adult content,” “inappropriate language,” “violence/horror,” “sex/nudity,” or not being “age appropriate.” Because comics thrive on the power of the static image, a single page or panel as part of a larger whole can be the impetus for a challenge in a way that’s different from a passage in a book or a scene in a movie. Some people still believe that comics are low value speech, or are made exclusively for children, and object to comics in the library because of these misconceptions.
Here’s a sampling of the most common reasons comics are challenged:
- Profanity/offensive language
- Sex or nudity
- Violence and horror
- Drugs and alcohol
- Politically/socially/racially offensive
- Offensive to religious beliefs
The essential question is whether the viewpoints of a few should dictate what the rest of a library’s patrons and their children may read? The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund helps librarians and communities stand up for comics when the rights of readers to view the materials they want, and when the rights of parents to determine what is right for their own children is threatened.