by Betsy Gomez
Neonomicon, the Bram-Stoker Award winning series from Alan Moore and artist Jacen Burrows, has been challenged at a library in Greenville, South Carolina. The book was shelved in the adult section of the library, which is generally restricted to minors unless they have parental permission. A 14-year-old girl who had permission from her mother checked out the book. After asking her mother about a profane word used in the book, her mother looked at the book and filed a complaint. The book was challenged for sexual content, which the mother described as “pornographic,” and is currently unavailable to library patrons for review.
Neonomicon collects the four-issue miniseries released by Avatar Press in 2010. The book incorporates Lovecraftian horror into a murder mystery. It received the first-ever Bram Stoker Award for “Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel” earlier this year.
Carrie Gaske, the mother of 14-year-old Jennifer Gaske, displays a common misconception about graphic novels in explaining why she let her daughter check out the book. From CBS 7 on Your Side, the Greenville CBS affiliate:
Recently, the teen found the book, “Neonomicon”, in the library’s adult section and thought it would be a real page turner. Kids above the age of 13 can check out books in the adult section, if they have their parents’ permission. “It looked like a murder mystery comic book to me,” recalls Carrie Gaske. “It looked like a child’s book. I flipped through it, and thought it was ok for her to check out.”
Gaske’s incorrect conclusion that the book was intended for younger readers resulted in a challenge that pulled the book from library shelves:
[The library system’s executive director, Beverly] James says the library system has never used a rating system, and it’s up to each parent to read between the lines, and decide what’s appropriate for their child. Gaske has filed an official challenge to the book. For now, the system’s two copies in circulation have been pulled from the shelves while a committee reviews the content. “I’m definitely going to have to review every book they read more from now on,” says Gaske.
You can view the coverage from CBS 7 here, but it should be noted that the coverage is not balanced. CBLDF will be following this developing story closely.
Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and defense against library challenges such as this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!