10 Banned and Challenged Comics for Summer Reading!

Happy June! With summer unofficially underway, here are some challenged and banned comics to read at the beach or on those lazy backyard hammock days. Signed copies of several of these titles are available in our Rewards Zone, so we’ve included links to those too. Finally, scroll to the bottom of this page for a full-color poster to display in libraries, comic shops, or classrooms!


1. Bone by Jeff Smith

  • Synopsis: Three creatures known as the Bones, who are outcast from their home village of Boneville and lost in a human land called The Valley, find themselves surrounded by talking bugs, vicious rat-like monsters, magic, and the occasional dragon. Smith’s epic follows Fone Bone and his two cousins, Smiley and Phoney, as they meet the valley’s denizens, become embroiled in their society, and discover their own heroism in confrontation with the rat creatures and their mystical master, the Lord of Locusts.
  • Location of key challenge: Independent School District 196 in Rosemount, Minnesota
  • Reason challenged: Promotion of smoking and drinking

A letter from Jeff Smith decrying the attempted ban of his book was read aloud at the library review committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and the CBLDFMore…

Buy Bone books signed by Jeff Smith here!

dragon ball

2. Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

  • Synopsis: Follows the adventures of Goku and his friends from childhood through adolescence as he trains in martial arts and begins his exploits. Goku embarks on a quest for the seven mystical orbs called Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Inspired by traditional Chinese storytelling and myths, Dragon Ball is a modern take on timeless classics and embodies themes of friendship, rivalry, victory and loss.
  • Location of key challenge: All public school libraries in Wicomico County, Maryland
  • Reason challenged: Violence and nudity

The library review committee recommended that the books in the Dragon Ball series, which were recommended by the publisher for ages 13+, be removed from the entire public school library system, including at the high school level. More…


3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

  • Synopsis: Follows the joys and tribulations of Callie and her middle school drama troupe.
  • Location of key challenge: Chapel Hill Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

Although most readers of all ages found Drama to be just as endearing and authentic as Telgemeier’s other books Smile and Sisters, a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters. More…

Buy Drama signed by Raina Telgemeier here!


4. Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa

  • Synopsis: Nakazawa’s critically acclaimed semi-autobiographical manga about the events leading up to and after the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.
  • Location of key challenge: Various schools in Japan
  • Reason challenged: violence, discrimination, and “propagation of anti-Japanese mentality.”

Barefoot Gen was temporarily banned from schools in the cities of Matsu and Izumisano, but in both cases it was later reinstated after media and community backlash. More…

Graveyard Book

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

  • Synopsis: Tells the story of Nobody Owens, a boy raised by ghosts, and his adventures through the graveyard where he lives. 
  • Location of key challenge: Undisclosed
  • Reason challenged: Violent imagery

In February 2015, CBLDF was confidentially involved the defense of the graphic novel edition of The Graveyard Book, which was challenged in an undisclosed middle school library for violent imagery. More…


6. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  • Synopsis: A graphic memoir of growing up during the Iranian Revolution.
  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

Furor erupted in 2013 when Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. CPS backpedaled on the initial email, but the book was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and use in Grade 8 -10 classrooms now requires additional teacher training. Possibly as a result of publicity from the 2013 CPS ban, Persepolis faced three more school challenges in 2014, landing it the #2 spot on the American Library Association’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books for that year. More…


7. Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran

  • Synopsis: Manga character Ryoko falls through a dimensional rift into a real-world American high school and has trouble fitting in.
  • Location of key challenge: Issaquah High School, Issaquah, WA.
  • Reason challenged: Pixelated nudity.

The mother of a high school student challenged Mangaman in October 2016 due to one pixelated panel of Ryoko in the buff. The school district observed its challenge policy and ultimately decided the book should remain on library shelves. More…


8. Stuck in the Middle edited by Ariel Schrag

  • Synopsis: An anthology of seventeen short comics by various creators about the travails of middle school.
  • Location of key challenge: Dixfield, ME; Aransas County, TX; Del City, OK
  • Reason challenged: profanity and references to sex, drugs, and alcohol.

Stuck in the Middle has been challenged multiple times since 2011. Most recently, a parent in Del City, OK labelled it “trash” and filed a challenge which prompted formation of a review committee. More…

This One Summer

9. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

  • Synopsis: In the space of one summer vacation, two tween girls, local townie teens, and one set of parents all tangle in the delicate balances of friendships and relationships, grapple with the pains of growing up, deal with the torments of depression and of wanted and unwanted pregnancies, and cope with the heartbreaks and hopes of life.
  • Location of key challenge: Henning, Minnesota and various undisclosed locations
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content, unsuited to age group

Graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki broke boundaries by becoming the first graphic novel to make the short list for the Caldecott Medal. Unfortunately, the Caldecott honor yielded an unforeseen negative outcome: Since the announcement of the Caldecott honor, CBLDF has been confidentially involved in monitoring challenges to This One Summer in various communities. More…

Buy This One Summer signed by Mariko Tamaki here!

Sword Art Online: Aincrad Vol 1

10. Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad by Reki Kawahara and abec

  • Synopsis: Players trapped in a virtual reality video game must beat all 100 levels to escape.
  • Location of key challenge: Jerome, ID.
  • Reason challenged: Semi-nudity, sexual references.

In April 2017 a Jerome Middle School teacher challenged the book on behalf of a student who came across it in the school library and objected to both language and imagery inside. A review committee unanimously recommended that the school board allow it to remain on shelves. More…


Posters for download

Show your love for banned books in your store or library! We’ve got downloadable posters in various sizes and formats for your use!

Download an 11″ x 17″ poster for summer reading here (with bleed) and here (no bleed).

Download an 8.5″ x 11″ poster for summer reading here (with bleed) and here (no bleed).

Don’t miss the summer issue of CBLDF Defender, in stores and on comiXology this Wednesday! CBLDF talks with Love Is Love architect Marc Andreyko and ambassador for comics Gene Luen Yang! CBLDF Defender Vol. 2 #2 features an iconic cover of Batwoman by Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire, Animal Man), and we celebrate summer reading with banned comics and cover the latest censorship battles!

Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work in 2017 by visiting the Rewards Zonemaking a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!