The Good Fighters: Gib Bickel

Gib Bickel represents a special class of CBLDF volunteer: the volunteer that takes the initiative to represent the Fund at one of the many conventions that CBLDF staffers cannot attend. Bickel and volunteers Patrick Watson and Brett Montgomery recently ran a table at Mid-Ohio Comic Con to raise money for CBLDF and boost awareness of CBLDF’s important First Amendment work.

As one of the founders of Laughing Ogre Comics in Columbus, Ohio, Bickel’s enthusiasm for comic books is boundless. He carries this enthusiasm into the community, lending support to Sequential SmArt, a conference that will bring together comics creators, academic scholars, and educators who use comic books in their classrooms. This espousal of comics is also reflected in Bickel’s support of CBLDF, which he has always made a priority, as you will see in this edition of The Good Fighters.

CBLDF: How did you find out about the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund?

Gib Bickel: I honestly do not remember. The Ogre founders — Daryn Guarino, Rodney Philips and I — have always done what we could for the Fund. It seems like it has always been there.

CBLDF: You’re a founder of Laughing Ogre Comics in Columbus, Ohio. As a retailer, did you ever encounter censorship? If so, how did you handle the situation?

Bickel: Not really. We had what we called the “Purity Patrol” come through the store. We’re right next to a Catholic high school, and a nun would walk the store pretty regularly in our early years. She apparently never found anything to object to.

CBLDF: Since you had a nun visiting your store, did you find yourself displaying books differently?

Bickel: No, we’d designed the store in such a way that wasn’t something we had to consider.

CBLDF: What advice would you give other retailers when it comes to censorship issues?

Bickel: I think the key is to know your material and to talk to your clientele about it. Over the years I’ve asked quite a few parents to look through what their kids wanted to buy. Most parents were already knowledgeable and they were all appreciative of the thought.

CBLDF: In addition to volunteering to run a table for CBLDF during Mid-Ohio Comic-Con, Laughing Ogre Comics also hosted one of the United Against Censorship signings for CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011. Why is CBLDF so important to you?

Bickel: Fist Amendment rights are very special. There are many, many people on this Earth that do not have them, and it’s our responsibility to protect them for future generations. The CBLDF’s mission is truly noble. Once we can’t communicate with each other, all of our rights are in peril.

CBLDF: Why did you take the initiative to represent CBLDF during Mid-Ohio Comic-Con? How did this come about?

Bickel: I’ve always appreciated the work the Fund has done, and the store is always looking for ways to help. It was just natural to try to raise funds and awareness at the local convention. I also love Mid-Ohio, and I think it elevates any show to have a CBLDF presence.

CBLDF: What are some ways that you would recommend other people get involved with CBLDF?

Bickel: I think raising awareness through Facebook links to CBLDF stories is a good start. Joining is always a good idea. I think conventions without a CBLDF presence should contact the Fund to see how they can help.

Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by bidding on original artwork, making a donation, or becoming a member of the CBLDF! If you would like to volunteer for CBLDF, send us an email!