Defending Manga: The Ryan Matheson Story

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is proud to release Defending Manga: The Ryan Matheson Story, a short documentary video recounting the young American citzen’s fight for justice after being wrongfully accused of criminal activity because of fantasy and humor manga on his laptop computer.  This week the CBLDF has also contributed an additional $10,000 toward paying off Ryan’s legal debt, bringing the Fund’s contribution to Ryan’s case up to $40,000.  CBLDF is currently fundraising to pay off the remaining $24,000 of that debt. Thanks to CBLDF’s monetary and substantive support, all criminal charges against Ryan were dropped last year.  Now viewers can see Ryan tell his story in his own words, and learn more about the fight to protect manga in Defending Manga: The Ryan Matheson Story.

“I am very glad to share a little bit of insight into the events of my case that ended last year,” Matheson said.  “My hope is that more and more people at least become aware of the serious issues that my case touched upon. If my experiences can save even one innocent person from having to undergo aggressive unwarranted searches or wrongful treatment like I did, then I feel that all the effort was worth it.”

After a search of his laptop in 2010, Canada Customs wrongfully accused Ryan of possessing and importing child pornography because of constitutionally protected comic book images on that device. This case represented a severe disruption in his life, including a two-year period during which he was unable to use computers or the internet outside of his job, severely limiting opportunities to advance his employment and education. Ryan suffered extreme mistreatment at the hands of Canadian authorities, and was subjected to abusive treatment by police. Matheson’s cruel and unusual punishment included being denied food and blankets, and not being allowed to contact the American Embassy. Matheson was even told by police transporting him to prison that “if you get raped in here, it doesn’t count!” The CBLDF helped fund a defense that detailed these and other abuses and retained experts whose proposed testimony outlined that the comics at issue are constitutionally protected in the United States, the client’s home country, contributing to the charges being dropped.

In a message to CBLDF supporters, Matheson says, “To everyone who contributed to the CBLDF and supported me, you have my sincere gratitude. It’s been a little over a year since my case ended, and although I was pretty shaken right after it ended, I’ve definitely recovered a lot and I feel stable and happy in my life now. Last year I accompanied the CBLDF to a few anime and comic conventions, which has really opened my eyes and given me perspective on just how amazing our community of anime, manga and comics really is. Don’t ever be afraid or ashamed of the things you love! Your donations and support to the CBLDF really do help. The help I’ve received so far has gone above and beyond what I thought was even possible. Thank you so much!”

Defending Manga: The Ryan Matheson Story was created by Moving Walkway Productions, directed and edited by Justin Staggs and produced by Frenchy Lunning.  The documentary was made possible thanks to a grant from the Gaiman Foundation.

Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and defense of comics fans like Ryan Matheson by making a donation or becoming a member of CBLDF!