As we noted late last year, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been tracking trends in both the United States and abroad that show customs authorities searching and in some cases seizing computers and other electronic devices that had adult comics material stored on them. Today the CBLDF released an advisory prepared by their legal counsel, Robert Corn-Revere, titled “Legal Hazards of Crossing International Borders with Comic Book Art.”
“Most people do not know that their constitutional rights are not guaranteed, even from U.S. Customs agents, when they cross international borders,” Corn-Revere said. “Their books, papers, laptop computers, and even cell phones are subject to routine search and possible seizure by the government, even without any suspicion of criminal activity. This is important to know in an age when many people carry with them a great deal of highly personal information in electronic form.”
The document offers an overview on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policies and how border searches lack traditional legal protection. It also offers suggestions on avoiding intrusive searches. The CBLDF Advisory is available as a Word document and a PDF file.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is using the funding site Kickstarter to raise money to publish a Transmetropolitan art book. Transmetropolitan, for those who may not be familiar with it, was a Vertigo series that starred Spider Jerusalem, a gonzo journalist in a depraved future, who, along with his assistants and a three-eyed cat, battled corrupt politicians, crazy cults and castrated police officers. Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Darick Robertson, the book was published from 1997 to 2002.
Both creators are participating in the new art book, with Robertson providing a cover and Ellis a foreword. In addition, the book will include artwork by Cliff Chiang, Cully Hamner, Milo Manara, Jeff Lemire, Sam Kieth and many more.
Susan Auġér, the project manager for the art book, and Charles Brownstein, executive director of the CBLDF, were kind enough to answer my questions about the project.
JK: Where did the initial idea to do a benefit book come from?
Susan: A fan approached Darick Robertson’s table at Emerald City Comic Con, the best comics convention out there to meet and greet with creators. Darick agreed that it was a good idea, and the plan took shape shortly after that. You could say it was the perfect jumping off point: a book suggested by a fan, populated by many fans, produced for the fans.
Charles: Shortly after Darick appeared to benefit the CBLDF at WonderCon last year, we sparked up a correspondence with Susan, who had been organizing a project involving a variety of great pieces inspired by Darick and Warren’s iconic series. She did the legwork to get approval from DC Comics to make this book happen as a benefit for CBLDF, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. There’s some great stuff coming through, and we’re gonna be thrilled to see it, to spread the word, and to do some good for people in comics with the funds that come from it.
If you’re planning on traveling abroad this holiday season, you may want to be wary of what comics you’re bringing on your computer, phone or other device. During a call with his fellow Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board members yesterday, writer Neil Gaiman tweeted about a trend the CBLDF has been watching: “On @CBLDF Board of Directors call. Just learning about Customs officers confiscating computers because they didn’t like the comics on them.”
According to Executive Director Charles Brownstein, both the CBLDF and the American Civil Liberties Union have been tracking the trend.
“The CBLDF legal team has been tracking trends in customs here in the U.S. and abroad that show authorities searching, and,in some cases, seizing the computers, portable devices, storage devices, and other items of travelers who have adult comics material stored on those devices,” Brownstein told Comic Book Resources. “The ACLU is tracking similar customs abuses from a privacy point of view. There’s a recent incident about which we’re not at liberty to discuss specifics involving this trend, where we were asked to provide information and letters of support. Because this is a pending matter, I’m not at liberty to discuss further specifics at this time.”
He added that in response, the CBLDF is working on a “best practices” document for comic fans going through customs. “This document will cover what they need to know to help mitigate their risks in this area,” Brownstein said. “We plan to issue this document in the first quarter of 2011.”
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and ComicsAlliance have teamed up to raise money for the charity with a new art auction/exhibit called The Monsters Project. Right now they’re collecting monster-themed artwork, with plans to auction it off on eBay and at the Alternative Press Expo Oct. 16-17. Details on contributing can be found over on ComicsAlliance.
One of the things I love most about conventions is the artists who visit and show off their sketchbooks and draw sketches for people. Even if you don’t attend the convention, you can follow artists’ blogs and see work they did during the con begin to trickle in. With last week’s Baltimore Comic-Con in the rear-view, that’s beginning to happen. Take, for example, Terry Moore, who did a phenomenal drawing of the girls from his Strangers in Paradise series dressed up as Slave Leia from Return of the Jedi.
You can view several additional pieces on his blog, including a Red Sonja and a piece he did for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!
At last we arrive at the schedule for the final day of Comic-Con International — Sunday, July 25 (aka “Kids’ Day”).
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, which include the final Smallville panel, an appearance by famed Japanese artist Yoshitako Amano, spotlights on Matt Fraction and Dennis O’Neil, and a look at the upcoming Spider-Man storyline “Origin of the Species.”
The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.
10 to 11 .m. Emily The Strange — Get your last day of Comic-Con off to a strange start with Dark Horse’s Emily the Strange panel! Meet Emily’s creator Rob Reger and Dark Horse editor Shawna Gore, and come prepared to quench your curiosity about all things Emily. Exciting announcements, wacky wordplay, and tasty news bits are all on the menu for this early bird panel! Room 3
10 to 11 a.m. Jack Kirby Tribute — It’s time once again to pay tribute to Jack “King” Kirby, the prolific writer/artist who co-created some of the world’s most famous superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the New Gods and many more. Kirby biographer and friend Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics) hosts this annual Comic-Con tradition and is joined this year by writers Marv Wolfman (Tomb of Dracula, New Teen Titans) and Kurt Busiek (Astro City, JLA/Avengers) and other Kirby fanatics to discuss the King. Room 4
Like clockwork, Comic-Con organizers have released the schedule for the third day of the convention, Saturday, July 24.
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, ranging from movie panels for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to Joe Quesada’s traditional “Cup O’ Joe” and “Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour vs. The Fans.”
The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.
10 to 11 a.m. Spotlight on Carla Speed McNeil — Comic-Con special guest Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her creator-owned title Finder. A few years back, Carla took new stories of Finder to the Internet, and the result was an Eisner Award for best webcomic of 2008 and a new series of reprints from Dark Horse. Carla talks about her work and what’s next in this Spotlight panel. Room 3
10 to 11 a.m. The Black Panel 2010 — This year’s Black Panel will be one for the ages. The focus will be on empowerment, education, real-world networking, and finally but never last, fun. The panelists include entertainment attorney Darrel Miller, novelist Nnedi Okorafor, artist Denys Cowan and writer/producer/director Reggie Hudlin, with moderator Michael Davis. Once they answer life’s burning questions, they’ll chill with a salute and Q&A from the audience with actor/writer/director Bill Duke. As always, surprise guests who will rock your world. Room 5AB
10 to 11 a.m. Marvel Comics Writers Unite! — The third in Comic-Con’s series of “Year of the Writer/Comics Writers Unite!” panels focuses on Marvel Comics and includes Comic-Con special guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Thor) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever, X-Women) in a discussion with writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable). Room 6DE
San Francisco’s Comix Experience, the comic shop owned by CBR columnist Brian Hibbs, celebrates its 21st birthday this weekend (hey, they’re legal!) with a birthday bash and benefit art auction for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
The birthday bash begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 3rd, and will feature the El Toyanese Taco Truck, sponsored by Image Comics, and beer courtesy of 21st Amendment Brewery. The auction will include the above piece by artist Stan Sakai. If you’re in town and looking for something to do after WonderCon on Saturday, this sounds like a fun event.
Passings | John Hicklenton, the comic artist best known for his work on 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and Nemesis the Warlock, passed away last week after a long fight with Multiple Sclerosis. He was 42. Hicklenton was an advocate for better treatment of MS sufferers, becoming the subject of the award-winning 2008 documentary Here’s Johnny that detailed his struggle with the disabling neurological disease. [Forbidden Planet International Blog]
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the expansion of its management team: Cheyenne Allott has been hired as development manager, overseeing fund-raising and outreach initiatives; and Brady Bonne has joined as operations manager, coordinating the organization’s office and fund-raising logistics. [press release]
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, is coming up this weekend at The Concourse in San Francisco. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Special guests include Jamaica Dyer, Phoebe Gloeckner, Dean Haspiel, Batton Lash, Lark Pien, Dash Shaw and Jeff Smith. Here are a few more items of interest if you’re attending …
Fantagraphics | Fantagraphics sent over their signing schedule for the show:
11AM – 1PM: Jon Vermilyea (MOME) & Frank Santoro (MOME)
12:00–12:45 Spotlight on Dash Shaw
1PM – 3PM: Dash Shaw & T. Edward Bak (MOME)
3PM – 5PM: John Pham
5PM – 7PM: Renee French (MOME) & Andrice Arp (MOME)
11AM – 1PM: Jon Vermilyea (MOME), Frank Santoro (MOME) & Dash Shaw
1PM – 3PM: T. Edward Bak (MOME) & John Pham
3PM – 5PM: Renee French & Andrice Arp
They’ll have many new releases on hand: The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez, Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical by Robert Williams, Pim & Francie by Al Columbia, Sublife #2 by John Pham, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. by Dash Shaw, MOME Vol. 16 by various, The Great Anti-War Cartoons by Craig Yoe, and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga.
“As an added bonus, Dash Shaw is an official APE guest this year and will be signing copies of his new book, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.,” writes Eric Reynolds. “For anyone who buys the book at one of his Fanta signings during APE, Dash will do an original PAINTING on the front cover! You will not want to miss out.”
The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off with preview night on Wednesday, July 22 and runs through Sunday, July 26. If you are a publisher, creator, retailer or any other kind of exhibitor who would like to let folks know about any special plans you have for the show (panels, signing schedules, exclusives, debuts, etc.) drop me an email and I’ll run it here.
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Things From Another World have teamed up to create a set of limited edition cards by various comic creators that will be handed out by various publishers, the CBLDF and TFAW. The original artwork for the cards will be auctioned off at the con, with proceeds going to the fund. Contributors include Mike Mignola, Phil Hester, Eric Powell, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon, Steve Lieber and many more.
Panels | Although the official programming schedule hasn’t been released yet, a few companies have started sharing their panels via press releases and such. Thursday at the con brings a panel on Disney animator Walt Stanchfield, who is profiled in a new book called Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes.
Also, FOX TV has released their schedule. They’ll have panels dedicated to the Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show (a Family Guy spinoff), 24, Futurama and Bones. They’ll also have Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku on hand to introduce a never before seen episode of Dollhouse. And they’ll have a panel dedicated to their new show Glee, where they’ll show another episode. You can watch the first one on Hulu; it is hilarious.
Interestingly enough, the release doesn’t mention Fringe, but there will be a panel with several members of the cast.
With the New York Comic Con coming up Feb. 6-8, we’re posting information on the various things fanscan do and see at the show. If you’re a publisher, creator, retailer or otherwise exhibiting at the show, feel free to drop me an email with your plans for the show.
• The NYCC blog Medium at Large has more details on the Joss Whedon/Dollhouse preview panel, set for Sunday at 12:45 p.m. ET, which is currently being advertised on the CBR home page. They’ve also announced they’ll be showing the next Futurama movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder.
• Love and Capes creator Thom Zahler is bringing Valentines to the show:
I will be at NYCC next weekend with tons of Love and Capes stuff. I’ll have new Valentines featuring Mark and Abby. Kind of like Ralph Wiggum’s “I Choo-Choo-Choose You” one. I’ll be selling the complete run of LNC, the trade, sketchbooks, t-shirts and pins. And I’ll be doing commissions all weekend, too! If you come by the booth, too, you may see a glimpse of the new promotion I’ll be doing for Mark and Abby’s upcoming wedding.
If people aren’t going to be able to attend, they can still go to my site and print out the LNC Valentine and give it to their Special Someone. While there, they can enter the Love and Capes Valentine’s Day contest. You can win some books, a set of matching t-shirts, and even some chocolate. That contest ends February 2nd, so time is running out. (But that way you’ll get the goodies before Valentine’s Day.)
For more info, visit www.loveandcapes.com or http://www.loveandcapes.com/love-and-capes-valentine.html for the contest info.