Comics have long been an easy target when it comes to panicked adults and headline craving politicians seeking an easy target for perceived moral corruption. The history of the censoring of comics, including the industry’s self-censoring of comics, is well known and documented. Not as well-documented is the sad fact that the practice of banning comics and graphic novels for often frivolous reasons continues today.
On Wednesday, the national Banned Books Week planning committee announced that one of the core themes of this year’s week long event will be a focus on graphic novels. The press release is below:
This year’s Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27, will shine a light on this still misunderstood form of storytelling and will celebrate the value of graphic novels to readers from all walks of life through the work performed by Banned Books Week sponsors and individual librarians, retailers and readers from all over the world.
“This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee.
Recently, the acclaimed memoir Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, has been the flashpoint in a university funding controversy in South Carolina, while last year Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, faced an attempted ban in the Chicago Public Schools. Graphic novels continually show up on the American Library Association’s (ALA) Top 10 list of Frequently Challenged Books. The ALA released its current list in April and includes Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series Bone arriving at #10.
Banned Books Week celebrates the Freedom to Read by encouraging readouts, displays, and community activities designed to raise awareness of the ongoing threats of censorship that continue to occur.
CBLDF.org offers a broad range of resources about banned and challenged comics, as well as tools that libraries, retailers and individuals can use to develop their own Banned Books Week celebrations. For an introduction to banned books and Banned Books Week, visit CBLDF’s FAQ: Banned Books Week 101.
Bannedbooksweek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can become involved in celebrating this important event. The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, and Project Censored.