Robot 6

South Carolina library pulls Alan Moore’s Neonomicon

The director of the Greenville County Public Library system in South Carolina has decided to remove Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Neonomicon from library shelves following a patron complaint — even though her own board recommended that the book continue to be available.

The trouble started in June, when a parent allowed her 14-year-old daughter to check out the book, which was shelved in the adult section. “It looked like a murder mystery comic book to me,” Carrie Gaske said at the time. “It looked like a child’s book. I flipped through it, and thought it was OK for her to check out.”

Neonomicon is, of course, not a child’s book, as Gaske learned when her daughter asked the meaning of a “nasty” word. Gaske then gave the graphic novel a second look and saw that it included explicit sexual content. “I feel that has the same content of Hustler or Playboy or things like that,” she told local media. “Maybe even worse.” Gaske filed an official challenge to the book, and it was removed from circulation while the library’s internal committee discussed it.

Now the verdict is in: The committee recommended the book be returned to the shelves. Library director Beverly James has decided to ignore that recommendation, however, and the book will remain out of circulation. “I can override their recommendation … I’m ultimately responsible,” James said. Access Services manager Barbara Yonce acknowledged that Neonomicon is an award-winning book by a well-regarded author, but, she said, “with further consideration, we decided that those qualifications were outweighed by some of the disturbing content of the item.”

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the National Coalition Against Censorship had both advocated for keeping the book on the shelves, and retired librarian Pat Scales, a member of the NCAC, called the library’s decision “a form of censorship” and said she is upset that adults will now be denied access to Neonomicon.

Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF spoke out as well, saying, “We are extremely disappointed that adult readers in Greenville are being deprived of the opportunity to read Alan Moore’s challenging work. We respect that each community must make their own decisions about the works available to patrons in their library, so it is especially vexing that this book is being banned despite the recommendation of the library’s own content review committee.”

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16 Comments

Charles J. Baserap

December 4, 2012 at 7:17 am

So because of the irresponsibility and parenting involved, NO ADULTS are allowed to read the book? Ever seen the amount of violence and bloodshed, rape, and deaths in the Bible? How about other classic works of literature? Don’t like it, don’t read it, but don’t play Though Police and force others to be deprived of literature because of your own hangups.

So dumb. A parent decided to disregard the fact that the book is located in the adult section and gives it to her kid to read, and then is horrified when it turns out to be an adult book?

I’ve not read Neonomicon, but I think adult readers should have the right to choose for themselves whether or not the book is suitable, rather than have one individual censor the work, in direct opposition to the council ruling on the matter.

“Flipped through,” my ass. How do you look at any page of Neonomicon and not immediately see that it’s not appropriate for kids?

It seesm like when it comes to trade paperbacks and GNs is that a lot of times they drop the “Mature” tag once they’re in collected form. I’m not really sure why they do that–as it’s always next to the UPC when they’re single issues.

And then there are books that were never singles to begin with and never had a label. So it can be confusing for parents who think that something “toon” looking is for kids. Sufficed to say, when it doubt….

ASK A LIBRARIAN!

Thats what they’re there for!

I just read this over Thanksgiving (a little underwhelmed by the shallowness of the Lovecraft references but I guess that was part of the “point”). Regardless of my opinion, I don’t see how you could “flip through” this book and not see that it’s very graphic. A solid fourth of this book is sex and nudity — she really must have just glanced at the opening pages and not very closely at that.

The book was shelved in the adult section of the library. The parent was in error.

I don’t know why adults would want to read this book as it’s terrible.

We’re so afraid to step on toes, we don’t look up often enough to see where we are walking.

I am not from US and I love this book. It led me to search for the Courtyard companiion, revisit HPL, I recommended it to may friends as I think the book has gone relatively unnoticed.

Intro aside, I wanted to say I bought the TPB in a US comic book store and was kinda startled to see it had no “Mature Content” or Warning on the cover. It was just there in the “M” for Moore if I remember correctly, in a comic book store in Philly. I grabbed it with curiosity as I was midly aware of its release, and immediately started chuckling as I browsed it. I decided to buy it on the spot, but I was chuckling as I am very used to check out the “adult” comics in other sections of stores, and this was innocently lying there among other Moore’s works, like “V” and etc…

Not that I care, but you know, the MAX comics I think have something in that line, and this goes very far beyond that line. I even wondered if the owner could not sued for having that book lying around.

It was in the adult section.

She was also totally okay with the thought of it being a comic about murder, just not sex.

Fantastic.

I think it’s a different side of ignorance, Eric.
It’s the “comics are all for kids and teenagers” and comics “aren’t a medium.”

And I believe there’s a big difference between sex being portrayed in fiction and violent monster rape visualized on many pages. Even some adults may prefer to avoid the latter in their readings.

And the idiots win again…

As someone familiar with the Greenville Country library, I can say that cich has a point. Graphic novels are a small fraction of the collection- (the medium is only even designated in the system by an ad-hoc method). A quick search of the catalog for graphic novels comes up with results amounting to less than nine-tenths of one percent of the adult (non-child) collection. http://goo.gl/8iZNn In addition, there were almost no graphic novels in the system until recently.

Thus, I wouldn’t blame Gaske for not knowing that there are such things as illustrated narratives for adults available at her local library. I also wouldn’t be terribly surprised if a local resident reached adulthood with no knowledge of Lovecraft or the word “hentai”.

That said, Gaske is about fourteen years late in coming to the conclusion “I’m definitely going to have to review every book they read more from now on.” If haven’t imparted to your children your opinion of tentacle rape by that age, they may not be inclined to listen to your advice thereafter.

What librarian in their right mind would pull this from the shelves? Such old-school censorship is asinine. Retire already.

First of all, the parent made the mistake of “assuming” that just because something is illustrated, or in a cartoon format, that it’s okay for kids. This woman claims that she “flipped through” the book and thought it was okay. I don’t buy that at all. Multiple pages throughout the book have graphic scenes and imagery, nudity, etc. This sounds like some bullshit she told the media “after” she discovered the content of the book, just to make herself sound like a responsible parent. Then, take into account the fact that it was in the “Adult” section of the Library… hmmm… If anything this woman says is true, then this woman is too stupid to be a parent and shouldn’t be procreating in the first place. Otherwise, it sounds like she is trying to shift the blame onto the Library itself for her lack of responsibility (victim mentality), or trying to earn a paycheck in a legal battle…

Why is it that idiots always get to dictate how our society goes… why can’t we remove her from the gene pool, rather than having to remove the book from the library?

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