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Banned Books Week 2014: Comic Books

Celebrating the freedom to read!

Frequently Banned Comics

These are just a handful of recently challenged comics. Check out a list of more challenged books at CBLDF's site.

Why Comics?

This year the American Library Association (ALA) is highlighting comic books. Why comics?

Comic books are banned for all the same reasons that any other book may be banned; however, their visual medium makes them particularly appealing to those looking to censor. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) says, "Because comics thrive on the power of the static image, a single page or panel as part of a larger whole can be the impetus for a challenge in a way that’s different from a passage in a book or a scene in a mComics Code Authority Sealovie."**

Comic books have a long history of being consider trash and no good for impressionable youth. In 1954 Frederick Wertham, a psychiatrist, published a book entitled Seduction of the Innocent. It focused on the supposed dangerous nature of comics that led youth to delinquency. Far from ignoring such claims, Congress launched an inquiry that, while never finished, led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority.

While the Comics Code had no official control over publishers, most distributors refused to carry any title without the CCA seal, effectively controlling the industry. While some comics survived, many, including the very popular adult horror and crime titles, were forced into failure. The comics industry entered into a steep decline in popularity as creativity was strangled by the new restrictions. Eventually newer publications began to bypass the restrictions and an upswing in comics popularity slowly grew. The CCA censored comic book content for decades--until 2011 when DC and Archie comics became the last to break away, finally making the code obsolete.

In 2012 Carol Tilley wrote, "Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics", which disproved and discredited Wertham's claims, but comics are still among those challenged every year for reasons much like Wetham's. 


Common Reasons for Banning

Common Reasons Comics are Banned:

  • Offensive language
  • Sex or nudity
  • Violence and horror
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Politically/socially/racially offensive
  • Offensive to religious beliefs
  • Unsuited to Age Group

Check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for more information about what they can do and ways to help!