censorship Archives - Page 3 of 4 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Legal | The fate of Michael George was placed in the hands of the jury Thursday after closing arguments in the trial of the former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Although a comic collector places George in the shop around the time of the shooting, George’s mother insists he was asleep on her sofa. The jury deliberated for about two hours Thursday, and is expected to continue this morning. [Detroit Free Press]
Legal | Manga blogger Melinda Beasi contemplates the larger implications of the arrest of Brandon X for bringing manga into Canada that authorities deemed to be child pornography: “What terrifies me about Brandon’s case is that each time we allow our courts or communities (any courts or communities) to criminalize comics (any comics), we are inviting them to criminalize our own.” [CBLDF]
Legal | The judge in the trial of former retailer Michael George banned note-taking in the courtroom on Friday out of concern that two women were sharing information with George’s wife Renee. George is on trial for the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara, and Renee George has been barred from hearing the testimony of other witnesses because she may be called to the stand herself. Also, on Friday a witness testified he had called George’s store at around 5:30 on the day of the murder to ask why an Amazing Spider-Man comic had jumped in value from $5 to $40. Michael Renaud said he spoke to George for about five minutes and that George seemed to be in a hurry to get off the phone; the testimony places him at the crime scene rather than at his mother’s house, where he claimed to be at the time of Barbara’s murder. [The Detroit Free Press]
Conventions | Nearly 5,000 people turned out over the weekend for the second annual Detroit Fanfare, held at the Cobb Center. That’s slightly more than the number who attended the first event at the Dearborn Hyatt Regency, but half what organizer Dennis Barger Jr. had hoped for this year. [The Detroit News]
Retailing | Borders Group, the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States, could be liquidated as early as next week if no other suitors step forward by Sunday evening, the deadline established by a federal bankruptcy court. A judge on Thursday approved the company’s motion to auction itself off after a proposal from private-equity firm Najafi Cos. fell apart over the objections of creditors. Borders, which once operated more than 1,000 stores, now has 399 locations and nearly 11,000 employees, including 400 at its Ann Arbor, Michigan, headquarters. [The Associated Press, The Detroit News]
Awards | The Young Adult Library Services Association has announced the 2012 “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” nominations, a list that includes Takio by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, Axe Cop by Ethan and Malachai Nicolle, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden and many more. The final list will be announced in January at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. [American Library Association]
Last week we reported that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was raising money to aid the defense of an American man who faces criminal child pornography charges in Canada because of manga found on his laptop by Canadian customs. This week, the Supreme Court struck down a California law regulating video games in a case in which the CBLDF had filed a friend-of-the-court brief. Today, a federal district court barred enforcement of an Alaska statute that would have made it a criminal offense to post material online that is “harmful to minors”; the CBLDF was one of the plaintiffs in that case. That’s a big week!
I asked Executive Director Charles Brownstein for a followup on the Canada case, and the news about the Alaska case broke while we were exchanging e-mails. Here is his answer in full, including an update on fund-raising for the manga case.
It’s been a momentous week for the CBLDF. Last Friday we announced our decision to build a coalition to aid an American traveler facing prison time in Canada and registering as a sex offender for traveling with comics on his laptop. On Monday we received news that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a California law that would have made violence a new category of unprotected speech by banning the sale and display of violent video games, and that Justice Scalia cited our amicus brief as part of his majority decision. And just today news arrived that we successfully helped knock out an Alaska law that would have placed severe restrictions on internet speech.
It used to be gospel among publishers that getting a book banned in Boston juiced sales. Can the same be true for Kindle? Digital Manga is banking on it; the Akadot retail site is offering all three of the books that were removed from Kindle (presumably for adult content) as a discount bundle. These are print editions, and the price, $18.99 for all three, is a considerable discount over regular retail, so it’s a good deal. The Digital folks have done well for themselves out of this whole affair, as the three books in question (two of which were deep backlist) have gotten a lot of attention; advertising them as too hot for digital is a pretty shrewd move.
Good news for Liberty Meadows fans: Frank Cho is working on the long-awaited issue #38, after dropping plans (for now) to make it into an animated cartoon.
Liberty Meadows was originally a newspaper strip, but Cho’s art and sense of humor kept bumping up against editorial standards, and he ended syndication in 2001; “I got tired of the censorship and the low pay,” he told CBR in a 2006 interview, adding that his weakest strips were rush jobs done to fill in for strips that editors refused to run. Cho moved to a comic book format, first self-published, then through Image, but he put Liberty Meadows on hiatus in 2004, after issue #36. Issue #37 came out in 2009.
Cho let loose on his blog about his frustrations with Sony, which acquired the rights to create a downloadable Liberty Meadows cartoon for their Sony Digital division. Here’s his account of how that went:
I wrote the original pilot episode but it was rejected for being too “risque”. So other writers were brought in to tone it down and make it more kid friendly. Once I read the rewrite, I thought it completely missed the point of Liberty Meadows. So I rewrote the rewrite, and this went back and forth couple of times until we reached a compromised script. We turned that script into an traditional 2D animated pilot episode.
Enter Sony Television division. They saw the pilot episode and liked it. Liberty Meadows get bumped up to their television division and a TV series is planned. However there is one request, Sony Television people wanted Liberty Meadows to be more “risque” with adult humor like the “Family Guy”. This is the point where I rip my hair out in frustration.
Then the recession hit and all the executives involved with the project left the company. Fortunately, Cho’s contract had an inactivity clause (something the Tokyopop creators could have benefited from) so the rights have now reverted back to him.
His plan for now is to simply go back to drawing the strip, although he doesn’t rule out another movie or TV deal “if the right offer comes along.”
Ever since the news broke last week that Amazon had removed some yaoi manga from the Kindle store, people, myself included, have been bombarding them with questions. No answers have been forthcoming, however. Amazon is like a huge black box with a screen in the side that sells books. What goes on inside it is anybody’s guess; their PR people don’t return emails or calls, and their customer service department spits out bland, automated responses like
“Occasionally books are removed from the Kindle Store for various reasons. We do not have any specific details about why this particular book may have been removed. The book’s publishers decide if a book is to be made available for the Kindle, and they can change this status at any time.”
In the Case of the Missing Manga, Amazon fails the Turing Test. It is obviously a robot.
Last week we reported that Amazon had removed several yaoi manga from the Kindle Store on the grounds that it did not meet their content guidelines. I spoke to Fred Lui of Digital Manga Publishing, the publisher of the deleted manga, and he said that Amazon didn’t give any more specific reason than that, although he did note that there seemed to be a new guy who was being “overzealous.”
The Kindle Store still offers plenty of yaoi manga, including some fairly steamy titles, so Amazon doesn’t seem to be deleting all the yaoi by any means. However, Animate U.S.A., a Japanese publisher that publishes yaoi manga exclusively on the Kindle, reports that Amazon has removed some of their books as well. I e-mailed them last week to ask about this, and this is the reply I got:
As you may know, some titles are already removed by Amazon without any specific reasons.
We just know that the titles contain content that is in violation of their content guidelines.
The e-mail did not include specifics, but I looked through their press releases and came up with three titles that Animate announced but that are not currently available in the Kindle Store: vol. 1 of Mister Mistress (vol. 2 is still available, and both can be bought used in print through Amazon), Delivery Cupid, and Pet in Love, a Pet on Duty side story (Pet on Duty is still available). I have e-mailed Animate to confirm that these titles were removed by Amazon and not by the publisher.
While the deleted Digital titles are still available via the Nook and Digital’s own eManga website, Animate U.S.A. publishes only to the Kindle, so these titles are no longer available digitally.
A side note: In the earlier post, we mentioned several non-yaoi graphic novels that seemed to be at about the same level of explicitness as the ones deleted; one of these, Christmas Creampie, is no longer available in the Kindle Store.
Another Toronto Comic Arts Festival has come and gone, leaving in its wake a lot of broke-but-smiling comics fans, a couple of artists with a new cause celebre, and some interesting reading.
As we reported on Friday, Canadian customs seized all five copies of the Black Eye comics anthology that creator Tom Neely was trying to bring to TCAF. The news was originally reported by Ryan Standfest, editor and publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, at The Comics Journal, and Ryan adds in comments that Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions was also seized from Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams. (For those who are curious about what’s too hot for Canada, here is a preview.) Standfest posted his reaction to the Black Eye confiscation at the Rotland blog; I’m sure there will be more to say about this soon.
The winners of the Doug Wright Awards were announced on Saturday night: Pascal Girard’s Bigfoot won the award for Best Book, Alex Fellows won the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco, and the Pigskin Peters Award, given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics, went to Michael DeForge’s Spotting Deer.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Canadian comcs news blog Sequential have posted a special TCAF edition of Sequential Pulp, which you can download as a PDF or read via Issu, with lots of good stuff, including interviews with Jillian Tamaki and Mark Laliberte, books reviews by Tom Spurgeon, Salgood Sam, and others, and pages and pages of original comics. It’s all free, so go, browse.
Canadian customs has long had a reputation for being quick to seize any comics they find potentially obscene, and Tom Neely learned that the hard way this morning, as Canadian customs officers reportedly confiscated the five copies of the Black Eye anthology that he was bringing with him to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Ryan Standfest, editor/publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, which publishes Black Eye, emailed Neely’s account of the incident to The Comics Journal:
… They took ‘em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review… if they found the material to be ‘obscene’ they would take ‘further action.’ I asked what ‘further action’ meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.
Black Eye is an anthology of dark humor, which was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign; apparently a page by singly named artist Onsmith is what first caught the customs officer’s eye. The book also contains work by Ivan Brunetti, Lilli Carré, and Paul Hornschemeier, among others, and essays by Jeet Heer and other luminaries, and an interview with Al Feldstein … it’s hard to argue that this anthology wouldn’t have redeeming features. Nonetheless, the customs agent wouldn’t let it through, and kept talking about “further action,” which certainly sounds ominous.
Although Neely seems to have been taken by surprise, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund issued an advisory just two months ago about taking comics across international borders.
And this certainly isn’t the first time this has happened. Continue Reading »
Yaoi manga is a niche genre, but like all niche genres, it has a devoted following. Yaoi readers gobble up the books like romance fans read Harlequin novels, which is not surprising as they are basically the same thing, except that yaoi 1) is manga, 2) is a love story between two men, and 3) often includes lots of sex.
It’s hard to know whether number 2 or 3 above is responsible, but Amazon has instructed at least one publisher to remove its yaoi books from the Kindle store, while allowing considerably more explicit male-female titles to remain. Digital Manga Publishing, which puts out several lines of yaoi, ranging from the fairly tame June imprint to the pretty steamy 801, posted this notice on its blog yesterday:
Recently Amazon has become more strict in enforcing their content requirements for ebooks. Several DMP books that have been available online since 2009 are getting the axe, beginning with our 801 Media titles like Weekend Lovers and King of Debt. However, in the last few days the issue has spread to the June imprint by Amazon’s refusal of The Selfish Demon King, and the removal of The Color of Love from the Kindle store. We fear that Amazon may target more of our books for removal so we’re warning all Amazon Kindle store users that providing you with our content may become more difficult in the future. However, if you purchase our ebooks before Amazon decides to remove it from their store you will still be able to access the book from your account.
All the books mentioned are already gone from the Kindle store, and several are missing from Amazon’s print book selection as well.
(Warning: NSFW image below.)
Cryptozoic Entertainment is working with The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to create a set of 70 trading cards that chronicle the history of comic book censorship. The cards will be released in July, no doubt just in time for Comic-Con International in San Diego.
In addition to the base set, special sketch and autograph cards will also be available. Already signed on to participate are Geoff Johns, Neil Gaiman, Darwyn Cooke, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, Brian Azzarello, Paul Levitz, Denny O’Neil, Frank Quitely, Phil Hester and many more. You can see some of the sketch cards that have already been created on the CBLDF site.
“The generous response from the creative community has been overwhelming,” said CBLDF Board President Larry Marder. “The most impressive gesture has been how many creators are briefly lending CBLDF their Intellectual Property for this project only. Creators letting us borrow their characters for these artists to sketch include Jeff Smith, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, John Layman, Jim Valentino, Matt Wagner, Rob Liefeld, Stan Sakai, Eric Powell, Mike Richardson, and many others.”
You can find the complete press release after the jump.
What a difference a year makes! A year ago today, the iPad not only didn’t exist, it hadn’t been officially announced yet. People read comics on their iPhones and iPod Touches, but the screens were too small for a good experience (and therefore, no one wanted to spend much money on them). The iPad changed all that, with a big, full-color screen that is just a tad smaller than a standard comics page (and a tad larger than a standard manga page), and publishers started taking digital comics seriously. The distribution was already in place, thanks to the iPhone—comiXology, iVerse, Panelfly—and now the publishers not only jumped on board with those platforms but also started developing their own apps.
The digital comics scene is still developing, but the iPad was the game changer. For many people, it was the first time that they could comfortably read comics on a handheld screen. Now, it’s just a question of marketing—this year, publishers will grapple with bringing comics to a wider audience, outside the existing readership, and balancing the digital marketplace with the established brick-and-mortar retail structure.
Here, then, is a look back at our digital year.
Viz Media sent out a press release today highlighting its spring-summer 2011 lineup, and the manga publisher has scored a coup: Tenjho Tenge, by Oh! Great, which Viz will be releasing “100% faithful to the original” in two-volume omnibus editions.
A classic boobs-and-battles manga, Tenjho Tenge was originally published by CMX, the now-defunct manga arm of DC Comics, and it was nearly the death of the imprint, too, because someone at CMX made the mistake of trying to release it as a teen-rated manga. To do this, CMX had to cover up the nudity, rewrite the dialogue to eliminate sexual innuendo, and downplay the violence, thus obliterating the key selling points of the series. This heavy editing caused a surge of white-hot Internet rage, with manga fans storming message boards, boycotting the series (reading it in scanlation form instead, just to twist the knife), and even setting up a website (now defunct) solely dedicated to the sins of CMX. DC stonewalled at first, but when Asako Suzuki became director of manga in 2006, she acknowledged that perhaps it wasn’t the best decision, and eventually, under her guidance, the editing got lighter and lighter. Despite the popular outrage, CMX editors consistently said that Tenjho Tenge was one of their biggest sellers, and the series was up to volume 18 when DC pulled the plug on CMX last spring.
Viz will release the series without edits, beginning with volume 1, as part of its Signature line, which is aimed at older readers. Anime News Network followed up with Leyla Aker, the editor-in-chief of the Signature imprint, who told them that Viz chose to start the series anew because the differences between its version and CMX’s would be so profound that they might confuse readers; she added that she and Viz Vice President Alvin Lu are “longtime fans” of the series.
The Ten-Cent Plague tells the story of not one but several campaigns against comics on the grounds that they were violent and bad influences on children. And, to be fair, the crime and horror comics of the time were pretty damn gruesome, repulsive enough that a lot of folks were willing to set aside the First Amendment on the grounds that the Founding Fathers couldn’t possibly have envisioned the Crypt-Keeper, and they certainly wouldn’t want to defend that. Hajdu documents a flurry of legislation banning all sorts of comic books throughout the country, mostly promoted by people who genuinely cared about children (but who also seem to have forgotten that children have brains of their own).
A similar impulse led California legislators to pass a law in 2005 banning the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18, but the law was struck down by a lower court, because apparently you can only protect youngsters from sex, not violence. This led Justice Antonin Scalia to become the unlikely hero of video gamers everywhere, as he argued on Tuesday that while the First Amendment definitely wasn’t designed to protect obscenity, it should apply to everything else, even violence.