Looking back on a year where the news seemed nothing more than a constant sort of upsetting developments, it’s interesting to see which articles and stories were the fan favorites for CBLDF readers. Some were heavy on outrage, but other were filled with the promise of hope. A lot of popular ones focused on elements of the past that intrigued readers, while still others spoke to the future of censorship in the world. So without further ado, here’s a look at ten of the most popular pieces CBLDF ran in 2018.
10. Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece Announced
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein teamed up with John Lind (Creative Director, Kitchen Sink Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics) as co-curators of The Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece, an exhibit on displayed at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, from February through June of 2018. The landmark exhibit walked visitors through a visceral tour of the civil rights movement, illuminating pivotal moments, people, and philosophies through the display of over 150 pieces of original art and artifacts from the creation of the award winning graphic memoir. https://cbldf.org/2018/02/the-art-of-march-a-civil-rights-masterpiece/
9.The Comics Code, Race, and the Debut of the Black Panther
The recent success of the Black Panther movie has prompted many viewers to delve into the history of the character and explore his origins in the Marvel Universe of the 1960s. As rightly noted in many media outlets, the Black Panther was the first black superhero to appear in mainstream comics. This realization has prompted greater interest in the representation of black characters in comic books during the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there have been some observers on social media that connect the absence of black superheroes to the standards and enforcement of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) established in 1954. One popular post (shared by others more than 5,000 times on Facebook following the Black Panther film premiere) referenced the CCA and stated that black characters were “literally and legally banned from comics (and other media) for years.” But is this really so? https://cbldf.org/2018/05/the-comics-code-race-and-the-debut-of-the-black-panther/
8. One Million Moms Mad at George
One Million Moms, an offshoot of the hate group American Family Association, has decided to take a break from yelling at the TV and turn their collective ire towards that devilish bastion of children’s literacy, Scholastic Inc. They posted a call to action encouraging their followers to contact Scholastic and ask them to “discontinue publishing and promoting pro-homosexual and pro-transgender books for children, such as George by Alex Gino.” For those who aren’t familiar – George is an award-winning book that tells the story of a transgender 4th grader, George, who has hatched a plot with her best friend, Kelly, to star in the school play, Charlotte’s Web, as Charlotte, while at the same time coming out to her friends and family as a girl. https://cbldf.org/2018/01/one-million-moms-mad-at-george/
7. CBLDF Call to Action: Maine Shouts Down LGBTQ Book Ban
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund heard about the attempt to ban the LGBTQ books from a library display in Maine and was able to mobilize rapidly, craft and deliver a call to action for Maine supporters that led to the Rumford Library striking down the attempts of religious leaders to silence queer voices. Two of the works challenged were the comics My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi and Queer: A Graphic History by Meg John-Barker and Julia Scheele. https://cbldf.org/2018/09/maine-lgbt-book-ban-attempt-quashed/
6.“Censorship of the Worst Kind:” – Blazing Combat Suppressed During Vietnam
In the summer of 1965, the United States was escalating its involvement in Vietnam in order to prevent the Communist North from conquering the non-Communist South. Casting doubt on America’s involvement and support of South Vietnam in the early years of the war was a controversial move. Gallup public opinion data reveals that, until the Tet Offensive in 1968, more than 60 percent of Americans consistently supported U.S. involvement in Vietnam. While most comics used the war as a backdrop for heroic exploits or avoided any mention of it, Warren Publishing’s Blazing Combat tackled the conflict head-on from the start in a critical fashion. The short-lived series challenged romanticized depictions of combat and forced readers to confront the realistic suffering, death, and destruction experienced by everyone affected by war. Even though Blazing Combat was exempt from the Comics Code Authority (by virtue of being a magazine) the series still found itself subjected to censorship that ended its run and nearly bankrupted the publisher. But despite its abbreviated lifespan, Blazing Combat reminded readers and creators alike of the power of comics as a voice of social and political critique. Http://cbldf.org/2018/09/censorship-of-the-worst-kind-the-suppression-blazing-combat-during-the-vietnam-war/
5. CBLDF Joined Amicus Brief in Support of Grand Theft Auto V
On December 27, 2017, CBLDF filed an amicus brief with nine other media organizations, asking the New York Court of Appeals to reject actress Lindsey Lohan’s and former Mob Wives star Karen Gravano’s invitation to expand the state’s right of publicity law by broadening New York Civil Rights Law Section 51. The brief states that the “plaintiffs’ proposed reading of this state’s privacy statute would have a profoundly chilling effect on free speech.” That reading would endanger a wide range of comics, including works of nonfiction, fiction, and satire. https://cbldf.org/gtav
4. CBLDF’s Newest Publication: Read Banned Comics
Read Banned Comics is a free resource that delves into comics that are challenged, how to report and fight censorship, programming ideas, and more tips to make a celebration of Banned Books Week in your community! CBLDF is an official sponsor of Banned Books Week, and this year’s theme, Banning Books Silences Stories, is a call to action for everyone to stand up against censorship. The annual celebration of the freedom to read will be observed in libraries, schools, bookstores, and other community settings across the nation and the world. With Read Banned Comics people can discover the books frequently facing censorship. Hear from the creators themselves as they talk about their own experiences having work banned, including Neil Gaiman, Raina Telgemeier, G. Willow Wilson, and more. The free handbook can be viewed and downloaded https://cbldf.org/2018/09/get-cbldfs-newest-publication-read-banned-comics-for-free-today/
3. Be Heard!
Early in 2018 saw the beginning of millions of American students beginning to assert their First Amendment rights in protests across the country. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship came together to craft a resource to help protect students’ rights. Be Heard! was a free comic by cartoonist Kai Texel that outlined the best practices to help kids assert their rights to speech, protest, assembly and petition, while warning them about possible risks, and providing resources to get more help. Read Be Heard! at cbldf.org/beheard and share it freely and broadly!
Editor’s Note:Be Heard! has the unique distinction of being THE MOST SHARED item CBLDF posted in 2018! Special thanks to everyone (including Teen Vogue and The Washington Post) who read it, printed it, and/or shared it so we could get the world out to students across the nation that their voices matter, and their voices are protected in America!
2. Egyptian Author Ahmed Naji Fined for Using Life
Back in April, Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji was fined LE 20,000 following his third trial for “harming public morality” by republishing an excerpt from his experimental book Using Life (also known as Use of Life) in 2014. Naji was initially acquitted of these charges, but the prosecution was able to appeal the decision. Subsequently, Naji was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, but after 10 months served in jail, his conviction was vacated and this last retrial was ordered. https://cbldf.org/2018/04/egyptian-author-fined-for-sexually-explicit-exceprt/
1. South Carolina Police Challenge Summer Reading Titles
Community members, cops, and parents in one South Carolina school district are all pushing back against two summer reading books they believe propagate anti-police feelings. The books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, were on a list of four titles for students taking an English 1 College Prep course. Both books challenged have received numerous awards and accolades, including the Coretta Scott King Honor. https://cbldf.org/2018/06/35034/