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The move was discovered by Singapore-based cartoonist Sonny Liew (The Shadow Hero, My Life With Frankie), who searched for the collection in the Books Kinokuniya online catalog following the controversial decision by the National Library Board to removed and destroy copies of three gay-themed children’s books amid public pressure.
Finding volumes 1, 2, 4 and 5 but not the third — which contains Keller’s marriage to Clay Walker in Life With Archie #16 — Liew contacted the retailer, and received the following response: “We regret that Archie the Married Life 3 is deemed to breach the Content Guidelines for Imported Publications, and removed from sale by notice of MDA. We are not able to sell this title.”
MDA, the Media Development Authority, is tasked with both promoting and regulating Singapore’s media industries. Under the Content Guidelines for Imported Publications, those “that encourage, promote or glamourise sexually permissive and alternative lifestyles and deviant sexual practices are generally not allowed.” The agency hasn’t issued a statement regarding Archie: The Married Life, so it’s unknown whether the ban was prompted by complaints from the public.
“I’m not sure what this means – maybe that the NLB makes its own decisions, whilst commercial bookstores have to deal with the MDA,” Liew told The Independent. “It’s a sign that the system is not entirely consistent, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.”
The 2012 release of Life With Archie #16 was met with protest in the United States by the American Family Association’s One Million Moms initiative, which targeted both the publisher and Toys “R” Us, demanding that the retail chain pull the issue from shelves. It became the first Archie Comics title ever to sell out.
Update (8:40 a.m.): The MDA has confirmed the ban, with a spokesperson telling The Straits Times that The Married Life, Vol. 3, was assessed in March “after receiving a complaint and found it breached the guidelines with ‘its depiction of the same-sex marriage of two characters.'” The National Library Board explained that it acquired the book for the adult section before it learned of the guidelines breach, and will now be reviewing it.