Comic-Con International has wrapped up for another year, and CBLDF was proud to be part of the action, with educational panels and much more in support of our work defending comics from censorship. Let’s take a look at reporting about CBLDF during Comic-Con…
Tom Blunt with Word & Film sat down with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein to discuss CBLDF’s work defending the comics community. Blunt asked Brownstein about how CBLDF’s fight has transitioned in the last 30 years:
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been around for almost thirty years protecting the right to read comics, and in recent years our work has changed in such a way that there are fewer (thank goodness) calls to prosecute retailers for selling material that appeals to adult readers — in part because we were just so successful in fighting those cases.
Now we’re seeing a cultural shift toward trying to ban comics and graphic novels in school and library settings. So our current work is really getting involved in helping educators and librarians navigate calls to censor books for all grade levels. This ranges from books like Drama by Raina Telgemeier in elementary school environments, up to books like Sandman and Fun Home in college.
When Blunt asked Brownstein about the impact of comics’ crossover into other media, Brownstein explained how the perception of comics has changed:
We’re definitely continuing to see an increased appreciation of comics and related ideas, and that includes an appreciation of comics as source material. That’s great, it means we see people like Alison Bechdel winning major awards. We’re also seeing books like The Walking Dead become major best-sellers, and lots of other transmedia taking its root in comics. So that’s definitely helping — but there’s still a distance to go in the public perception of comics as yet another medium that should enjoy the most robust range of rights possible.
Brownstein also spoke with Tech Times Brian Heater, who dug into the recent school and library challenges that CBLDF has helped defeat. In particular, Heater asked Brownstein about the ban of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama in Texas and other attempts to ban it:
“It goes from elementary school where Drama was in a school library and a parent said the book doesn’t show the negative consequences of homosexuality and should only be assigned by a guidance councilor,” explains Brownstein. “So you mean the book doesn’t show hate crimes? What are we talking about here? [The cases range] from that to an adult saying they’re going to protest it after taking their final exam.”
Brownstein further explained how comics increasing popularity has influenced challenges:
“Partially it’s that comics are more available, says Brownstein. “Partially it’s that comics are more desirable. People want them in their systems, but there are still stigmas about comics that persist and need to be fought, that this is low value or just for kids. So we have to manage those things.”
Beau Yarbrough with The Sun covered the CBLDF: Comics Censorship in 2015 panel, focusing his reporting on the Crafton Hills College case. Yarbough writes:
Brownstein said the Shultzes’ challenge to the books in Bartlett’s course isn’t really a surprise.
“We’re starting to see more challenges on the college level,” he said. “Comics are increasingly being pulled into the censorship cross hairs.”
It’s been a particularly bad year for such challenges, he said: So far in 2015, the CBLDF has gotten involved in 18 such cases, compared with 10 in 2014.
“Comics are really at the epicenter of the free speech discussion happening today,” Brownstein said.
The panel also covered international attacks against comics creators and cartoonists, including Charlie Hebdo, Atena Farghadani, Zunar, and Sonny Liew. “We should be really happy for the First Amendment,” said Brownstein during the panel.
CBLDF thanks all of the members, creators, and supporters who came to support us during Comic-Con. Our work defending the right to read is possible because of you! If you couldn’t be part of the action, or if you missed us, please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by visiting the Rewards Zone, making a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!