Comic books tagged with terms “political, racist, violent”
On September 21, Banned Books Week began.
Our graphic novel definitely did not make the list.
Banned Books Week is a ‘holiday’ “…co-sponsored by the American Library Association, American Booksellers Association, plus a raft of business and professional groups, and it’s endorsed by the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book.” (Article) The week-long awareness campaign, which began September 21, is dedicated to celebrating the freedom to read books that have been banned or challenged in the past. Books that were challenged over the years include classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Challenged books are often cited by parents as racist, violent, politically charged, religious, inappropriate and more. In 2013, parents attached those tags to several comic books and graphic novels.
Two of the 10 most challenged list were notable comics:
Cartoonist Jeff Smith, who received ten Eisner Awards and eleven Harvey Awards for his work “Bone,” was surprised by the attacks on his comic book series:
“I’ll be honest, I had two simultaneous reactions when I heard Bone was in the top 10, first, that I was being attacked and I didn’t know why. Then a thought like: hey, this isn’t the worst thing that can happen. A lot of my heroes are on this list. Mark Twain, Melville, Bradbury, Steinbeck, Vonnegut; authors whose work is about something – that do the kind of writing I aspire to.”
Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke out about why comics are attacked more often than other types of books.
“They’re uniquely vulnerable to challenges because of the medium’s visual nature and because comics still carry a stigma of being low—value speech. Some challenges are brought against comics because a single page or panel can be taken out of context, while others come under attack because of the mistaken notion that all comics are for children…”
Although a renewed focus is being placed on comic books and graphic novels because of the negative attention they are getting, this is not the first time such books have been challenged. In the past, parents tried to ban Art Spiegelman’s “Maus,” a graphic novel memoir of his fathers experience going through the Holocaust.
The renewed interest in comic books and graphic novels will certainly bring about more challenges, and hopefully, equilibrium can be maintained.
Do you believe banning books is a good practice? Does viewpoint take precedence over freedom? Let me know in a comment below.