Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and Libraries Angela Maycock Charles Brownstein Yasuyo Inoue
Key issues for libraries
Why collect “graphic” materials?
How to collect, categorize, shelve?
Why are they challenged?
What makes complaints about them unique?
How can librarians best respond?
Why collect “graphic” material?
Visual material fits library collection policies
Supports learning and exploration
Engages different types of learners
Meets diverse needs and interest of users
How to categorize and shelve?
Variety of practice
Separated by age (J, YA, adult)
Interfiled with fiction and nonfiction (741s)
Special graphic novel (GN) section
No one right approach: local decisions based on local needs are best
Location not always a predictor of who will read or borrow material
Why are comics challenged?
Images are powerful
Misunderstandings and misperceptions
“ Graphic” materials equated with violence
Seen by some as trashy, low value literature
“ Comics are for kids”: seen as alluring to children
Conflicting values and viewpoints
Reasons for challenges to GNs
Unsuited for Age Group
Sex and nudity
Racial or ethnic slurs
Challenge to adult authority
MAY CONTAIN IDEAS READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
Library workers who personally objected to the work denied access to users
Violated patron confidentiality
Library workers fired for violating policy
Library retained the graphic novel but created new section for graphic novels
Tips for responding
Will some be offended? YES.
Know collection development, reconsideration policies; also Library Bill of Rights, intellectual freedom principles
Know the value of graphic materials
Stay calm and professional
Actively listen: eye contact, be attentive
Be willing to apologize: “I’m really sorry this was a bad experience for you.”
Offer alternatives: “Can we try to find a book that’s better suited to your tastes?”
Know where to go for help: OIF, CBLDF
Why We Fight
Censorship arising from moral panic is a constant presence in the history of comic books.
From the 1930s up to the modern day the medium has been stigmatized as low-value speech. Since 1986, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has stood up for comics in courtrooms and beyond.
Comics Under Fire
Comic Books first appeared in the 1930s.
Immediately drew fire from crusaders who felt they were low value speech that behaved as a corruptive influence.
Public outcry led to a rash of public comic burnings.
A Failed Attempt
Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP) formed in 1948 to mitigate public criticism.
Banned themes included depictions of crime that throws sympathy against the law, scenes of sadistic torture, the humorous or glamorous depiction of divorce, foul language, or ridicule or attack on religious or racial groups.
The ACMP failed due to a lack of uniform participation and standards for reviewing comics.
Dr. Fredric Wertham
A child psychologist, he maintained that comics were a corruptive influence that targeted children.
The apex of his anti-comics work was the 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent , which vilified horror, crime, and superhero comics.
Wertham's work prompted brutal censorship of comics in the 1950s.
Comics on Trial
Anti-comics sentiments culminated in the 1954 Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency targeting the industry.
Dr. Wertham made a convincing case that comics were a direct cause of delinquency in children.
EC Comics publisher William Gaines' testimony was warped by a disastrous line of inquiry that made headlines and fanned the flames of anti-comics sentiment.
Code of Silence
The industry responded to the Senate Hearings with the creation of the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA).
The CMAA created the Comics Code, a self-preservation tool which thoroughly sanitized comics, eliminating crime and horror comics completely.
Up from Underground
Years after the Comics Code decimated the industry, independent artists began making and publishing their own work free of restrictions.
These underground Comix addressed topics like class, sexuality, politics, and drugs.
Zap Comix was the gold standard of underground comix.
Zap #4 intentionally incited controversy by attacking social mores. The most controversial story was R. Crumb's Joe Blow , a comic about an incestuous American family.
Zap #4 was the first comic banned in New York State.
The Obscenity Test
In 1973, a ruling by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California created a test to define obscenity that was subject to local standards.
The Miller test holds that obscene materials are defined as those that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, find, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest; that depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law; and that, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The End of an Era!
After Miller v. California , content businesses all over the country braced for combat.
The Miller test gave local jurisdictions the ability to determine what was obscene, causing many business to pull from their shelves content that might be found objectionable in their communities.
This was a fatal blow for underground comics, as the shops that carried them could no longer do so without fear of prosecution.
The Mainstream Fights the Code
While underground comics struggled for survival, mainstream publishers also clashed with censorship.
In 1971, at the request of the government, Stan Lee wrote a Spider-Man arc that depicted drug use -- a violation of the Code.
This resulting controversy caused the Code to be revised to allow drug use as long as it was depicted as “a vicious habit”.
Fandom Carries the Torch!
Concurrent with the fall of the undergrounds, the newsstand system of comic distribution was also falling apart.
Comics looked endangered yet again, but this time by market forces rather than censorship.
However, the 1970s also saw a rise in organized fandom that spawned the creation of conventions and specialist stores that carried both mainstream and underground comics.
This led to the creation of the Direct Sales Market.
Comics Grow Up
The 1980s saw a huge surge in comics published specifically for adults, with a new wave of comics that were distributed through the specialist market without needing the Code seal.
Mainstream houses, indie publishers, and creator-owned works all became viable for comics that dealt with adult issues.
Comics' advances in subject matter and audience reach in the 1980s came to a critical mass in 1986 with the release of titles like Maus , The Dark Knight Returns , and Watchmen .
Comics were at the forefront of contemporary concerns in 1986 and seemed poised for a breakthrough after the long years of stigma.
Later that year, however, legal challenges against comics’ grown-up stories started.
The First Arrest
On November 18, 1986, while “monitoring places where youths congregate” in Lansing, Illinois, Officer Anthony Van Gorp and his partner purchased 15 comics from Michael Correa, manager of the comic book store Friendly Frank’s.
Correa was arrested and charged with the possession and sale of obscene materials. On January 1, 1988, Correa was found guilty by the State of Illinois, fined $750, and sentenced to court supervision for one year.
Artists to the Rescue
In Mangiaracina’s time of need, publisher Denis Kitchen developed a benefit portfolio to raise money to appeal Correa’s conviction. Star creators including Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Steve Bissette, Sergio Aragones, and Don Simpson contributed original pieces to the portfolio.
Other cases where we've helped retailers include OK v. Planet Comics, GA v. Lee, and TX v. Castillo.
The CBLDF is Born!
Following the successful appeal in the Friendly Frank’s legal battle, Denis Kitchen reasoned that the case was unlikely to be the last of its kind and set to work establishing the CBLDF as a permanent concern.
The organization was formally incorporated in 1990 and continues to this day, keeping watch over the First Amendment rights of the comics industry!
Mike Diana, the controversial creator of the zine Boiled Angel, was the first American artist ever to be convicted of obscenity. His work contains graphic and often shocking depictions of some of society’s most serious problems: child abuse, date rape, and religious corruption.
After a three-year legal battle, Diana’s conviction was ultimately upheld. His punishment, in part, forbade him from drawing in his own home, and he was subject to spot checks to verify he wasn’t doing so. Diana’s case remains one of the most severe miscarriages of justice in the history of American art jurisprudence.
Other cases in which we have helped artiste include CA v. Mavrides, Starbucks v. Dwyer, Winter v. DC, and Kraft v. Helm.
Florida v. Diana
Most of the CBLDF’s efforts are never seen; this is because a large portion of the Fund's work involves fending off cases before they go to court.
As Comics and Graphic Novels become more popular, the CBLDF has helped libraries manage crises related to challenges.
Cross the Border with Comics, Go Directly to Jail
In 2010, Brandon X, an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.
Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of Brandon and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.
Brandon’s real name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.
Manga and censorship, and Libraries in Japan
Manga books/magazines publishing/providing
‘ Youth Protection Act’ and other legal issues and Manga
History of battle over Manga in Japan
Librarians response over Manga
More legal issues
by Yasuyo Inoue
(Prof. @Dokkyo University)
What is Manga?
Manga is a cartoon-story, sometimes the story keeps going for many years to publish on magazines and books.
Anime is moving Manga.
4-frames-cartoon(Yon-koma Manga) is usually printed on newspapers.
Caricature is usually one-frame Manga stinging satire on society, politics, or so on.
Manga books/magazines publishing
Manga books/periodicals publishing market is not so big, but the impact on society, especially on youth society is not small...
“ One Piece ” Vol.64 is just published on Nov. 4 th 2011, and printed over 4,000,000 copies.
“ Weekly Shonen Jump ” magazine was sold 2,876,000 issues in 2010, increased 2.4% sales.
more bigger business market related Manga
Manga book publishing
Manga book publishing
Manga magazines publishing
Manga basically is printed on magazines, then published as a book.
288 titles of magazines printed Manga .
65 titles for children (28 for boys, 37 for girls) ⇒for both study aid and recreation
223 titles for adults over 21 yrs (60 for young men, 61 for young women, 15 classified as ‘Boys-Love’, and 65 as others)
⇒ accused mainly by authorities and parents’, or some groups
Where are people getting Manga?
The number of public libraries in Japan is 3,196, and
number of bookstores including new style of second-hand bookstores is 15,314 in 2010.
-> 15.8% of sales at bookstores are Manga, and 16.0% are magazines.
Bookstores, second-hand bookstores,
School libraries and public libraries,
Academic libraries ←researchers
Legal issues and Manga
‘ Youth Protection Act ’ 1950 ～ by each local governments
⇒ specified ‘harmful’ books, magazines, digital manga on Internet, and others for youth under 18 yrs. old
⇒ One of recent revision of this ordinance was done by Tokyo Metropolitan government.
sexual ‘non-existent youth’ images
most publishers do on business at Tokyo
⇔ Manga creators, publishers, and
Writers Guild of Japan, Japan Federation of
Bar Association, Japan Library Association,
This was not the first one.... ->History of battle over Manga
Battle over Manga; banned at war time (1930’s)
The Dept. of Interior directed on reading materials for children and demanded changing the contents including 33 Manga books.
After that, Manga turned to be war-favor stories.
Battle over MANGA; censored and banned at Occupation era (1945 ～ 1949)
Publishing was censored by American Army occupation authority including children books, Kamishibai, and Manga.
Kashi-honya (rental bookshop) widely provided ‘ Akahon Manga ’ cheaply, and those Manga books were accused as ‘bad’ books for children.
Battle over Manga; Reading guidance of MANGA at schools/school libraries (1951 ～）
Reading guidance methods with Manga were discussed at school reading classes.
Manga for study aid began to publish . ( 1950 ～ )
Library Law (1950.Apr.)
School Library Law (1953.Aug.)
Battle over Manga; ‘harmful’ MANGA in society (1949 ～ )
Critical movement against ‘ Akahon-Manga ’ as ‘low-class’ Manga . Some parents’ group burned Manga on street.
‘ Youth Protection Act ’ specified ‘harmful books’ for minors under 18 yrs old.
(1950 ～ present)
Battle over Manga; Negative view over MANGA at public libraries (1955 ～ )
First national meeting on children’s services was held and discussed on Manga at public libraries.
-> not welcome for public libraries
Declaration on ‘Statement on Intellectual Freedom in libraries’ (1954.May)
by Japan Library Association
Battle over Manga; Debate over MANGA at public libraries (1971 ～ )
->” libraries must provide books to everyone who want including children. Manga also should circulate.”
-> ” Manga express lots of sexual, violent, segregated expressions, not suitable for children.” “Limited collection budget should not use for buying Manga .”
Battle over Manga; “Youth Protection Act” （ 1950~ ）
First prefecture (wide area) Youth Protection Act at Okayama, 1950.
All prefecture set up same act at present. Tokyo was revised recently ．
⇒ Self regulation by Manga publishers and bookstores since 1963.
using sticker as indicating Manga for suitable age since 1991.
MANGA as one of library collections?
Present librarians may select Manga from educational standpoint. For example, among Saitama prefecture (near Tokyo) the public libraries’ union catalog with 58 libraries;
★ 44 libraries hold ‘Hadashi no Gen ’(=Barefoot Gen) about war and atomic bomb in Hiroshima, but only 8 hold ‘ Dragon ball ’.
★ Only 9 libraries hold ‘ One Piece ’ Manga version, but 22 libraries hold only novelized versions without original Manga .
not only revision of Youth Protection Act in Tokyo but also more.....
quiet Manga creators and publishers now after the revision... why?
← self-imposed restraint?
← little recognition on freedom of expression?
more legal issues
->‘ Act on Development of an Environment that Provides Safe and Secure Internet Use for Young People ’ (Act No.79 of 2008)
‘ Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography’ (1998, amended 2003)