The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is pleased to name the members of its newly formed advisory board, a body designed to assist the organization in advancing its mission to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics art form. Co-Chaired by CBLDF Founder Denis Kitchen and former board member Neil Gaiman, the advisory board will include legendary creators Frank Miller, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, Matt Groening, Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson, entertainment lawyer and former CBLDF Board Member Louise Nemschoff, educator Frenchy Lunning, author and designer Chip Kidd, and development executive Susan Alston, who was the first full-time Executive Director of CBLDF. The group was unanimously elected to their one-year term by CBLDF’s Board of Directors at their last meeting.
“It will be a tremendous honor to work with this distinguished group of advisors as we make strides to advance CBLDF’s work in 2013,” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “Each person on the advisory board has been extremely generous with their time, talent, and expertise in helping the Fund become the force that we are today. Having the ability to call upon their wisdom and insights will make the Fund a much stronger organization.”
About the CBLDF Advisory Board:
Susan Alston, CBLDF’s first Executive Director (1993-1997) and former board member (1997-1999), is a development, marketing, and communications professional in western Massachusetts. Alston began her career as Assistant Director of Marketing at Bank of Boston, then as Director of Administration at Tundra Publishing, owned by Kevin Eastman. In 1993, Tundra merged into Kitchen Sink Press, whereupon Denis Kitchen offered her a part-time position overseeing CBLDF administration. Shortly thereafter, with the onset of the Mike Diana case and a large donation from Dave Sim, the position was moved to fulltime.
After leaving CBLDF in 1997, Alston took her interest in fundraising, marketing, and communications and honed them at positions with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, VNA HealthCare, and Center for Human Development. In 2012, Alston earned her Master’s degree in Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy from Bay Path College and will sit for the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) exam in 2013.
Chip Kidd is a designer/writer in New York City whose body of work has been profoundly influential in the rise of the modern graphic novel. His book cover designs for Alfred A. Knopf have helped create a revolution in the art of American book packaging. He is the recipient of the National Design Award for Communications, as well as the Use of Photography in Design award from the International Design Center of Photography. Kidd has published two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, as well as Batman: Death By Design, an original graphic novel published by DC Comics and illustrated by Dave Taylor. He is also the author of several books about comics and the co-author and designer of True Prep, the sequel to the beloved Official Preppy Handbook. A distinguished and prolific lecturer, Kidd has spoken at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, RISD, and a zillion other places. His 2012 TED talk has garnered over 660,000 hits as of this writing and is cited as one of the “funniest of the year.”
Jim Lee is a renowned comic book artist and the Co-Publisher of DC Entertainment. Prior to his current post, Lee served as Editorial Director, where he oversaw WildStorm Studios and was also the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including Batman: Hush, Superman: For Tomorrow, All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, and Justice League. He also serves as the Executive Creative Director for the DC Universe Online (DCUO) massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). For his next project, Lee will be working with writer Scott Snyder on a new Superman book in 2013.
Frenchy Lunning is a professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, where she focuses on design, popular culture, and cultural theory throughout her work. She has written a book on fashion and fetish published by Berg Publishers in Britain and is currently working on two books: one on cosplay and the other is a book she began as a Fulbright Scholar in Japan in 2008 on the shôjo as a global and transnationally exchanged character. Lunning is the director of SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, the only academic conference in the U.S. currently focusing on Asian popular culture. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Mechademia, a book series published by the University of Minnesota dedicated to Asian popular culture, manga, and anime. In addition to her work at MCAD, Lunning teaches seminars on anime and manga, is a co-founder of Anime Detour, and is a producer for Moving Walkway Productions.
Frank Miller is among the most influential voices in comics. His groundbreaking superhero work changed the tone of the medium in the 1980s, starting with a legendary run on Marvel Comics’ Daredevil and continuing with the classic graphic novels Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One for DC. In 1991, Miller fulfilled his dream of doing a straight ahead crime series with Sin City. He went on to produce seven Sin City graphic novels and later to co-direct an acclaimed film adaptation with Robert Rodriguez. His multi-award-winning epic 300 from Dark Horse was also brought to life as a blockbuster motion picture. Miller served on CBLDF’s Board of Directors in the 1990s and continues to be a force in advancing the organization’s work.
Louise Nemschoff is a lawyer in the Los Angeles area who specializes in entertainment, copyright, international law, video games, and other digital media. A long-serving member of CBLDF’s Board of Directors, Nemschoff aided dozens of creators on legal matters during her tenure with the organization.
Mike Richardson is the founder and president of Dark Horse Comics, the largest independent comics publishing company in America. The company was founded in 1986 on the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals by supporting their right to own and control the work they create. In 1980, Richardson opened Pegasus Books in Bend, Oregon, the first in what became a successful chain of pop culture/comic shops. The 1994 addition of a flagship store at Universal Studios’ CityWalk heralded a new name for the chain: Things From Another World. Richardson is also the founder and president of Dark Horse Entertainment, a company he launched in 1992 that has developed and produced more than two dozen film and television projects since its inception. In 2008, Richardson won an Emmy for producing the John Landis–directed documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. Richardson has also written numerous comics and graphic novels, including The Secret; Cravan; Star Wars: Crimson Empire; and 47 Ronin.
Denis Kitchen, co-chair, founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in response to the arrest of a comic book store clerk who was wrongly prosecuted and convicted on obscenity charges for selling comics to an undercover police officer. Kitchen organized an industry fundraising effort to retain and pay for First Amendment expert Burton Joseph to wage the appeal against the conviction, which was victorious. Following this important win, Kitchen established CBLDF as an ongoing concern to protect against future prosecutions. For the organization’s first 18 years, he served as its President, and nurtured it from a volunteer effort, driven out of an office at Kitchen Sink Press, to a professional institution with a fulltime staff.
Neil Gaiman, co-chair, advanced CBLDF’s work with extraordinary support in fundraising and awareness building efforts. Gaiman embarked on several reading tours and developed merchandise, special events, and partnerships that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Fund’s important work. He was also instrumental in building awareness for the organization with public service events, and he was a key mover in establishing CBLDF’s educational program. Most recently, the Gaiman Foundation contributed $60,000 to CBLDF to support the growth of its education program. Gaiman’s work has been honored with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also earned Hugos, Nebulas, Eisners, Harveys, Locus Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, British SF Awards, British Fantasy Awards, Geffens, Mythopoeic Awards, as well as the International Horror Guild Award and the World Fantasy Award.
About Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals. https://www.cbldf.org