Allie, earlier this week, flagged Banned Books Week (September 30th – October 6th), in which we are to celebrate the right to read, drawing attention to the long list of books that have been challenged, and in some cases forcibly removed, from schools, libraries, bookstores and countries. This year is its 30th anniversary.
As you’d expect, as comics are perceived as being for children, there are a number of graphic novels which have been challenged. But a few may surprise you.
Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations by J.Michael Stracynski and John Romita Jr was challenged for its sexual overtones. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley was challenged due to its apparent sexism and offensive language. Blankets by Craig Thompson was challenged because of its “obscene” images. The violence and nudity in Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama saw it removed from the entire publish school system.
Art Spiegelman’s Maus was challenged, as was Pride by Baghdad by Brian K Vaughan and Niko Henrichon. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was considered unsuitable as it was “anti-family” as well as containing offensive language. And of course Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, despite winning a prestigious Hugo Award in 1988 has been challenged numerous times.
Black Kiss 2, by Howard Chaykin, will no longer be shipped to the UK, at least via Diamond Comic Distributors, due to concerns over its sexually explicit content. In a statement, Diamond, having had the opportunity to review the second issue, felt many scenes depicted ‘fall foul of UK Customs’ regulations on the importing of indecent and obscene material’. Whilst pornographic, it’s difficult to see why this is considered beyond the pale; it may well be because of the sexual violence which occurs in #2, something that A Siberian Film and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) fell foul of. However, it’s freely available online and 50 Shades of Grey continues to line supermarket checkouts across the land.
So celebrate by picking up one of the above or one of the most challenged titles of 2011 – personally I’d recommend Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.