Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read put on by the American Library Association. This year, from September 21 to 27, the celebration will focus on graphic novels and comics.
It’s a fitting concentration this year, given the controversy that often surrounds comics and graphic novels and has dogged the art form steadily since its inception. Check out its 2013 List of Frequenly Challenged Books and you’ll notice numbers one and 10 are comics — Captain Underpants and Bone. Yes, Bone. The beloved epic starring this guy:
Who actually wants some comics and graphic novels banned? The Palmetto Family Council, for one, the conservative group behind the College of Charleston’s recent headaches. Heaven forbid adults paying thousands of dollars for an education read a graphic novel that exposes them to such topics as suicide, family and *gasp* sexuality. The irony of a tale of the personal impact of small-mindedness coming under fire from some very small-minded people was certainly not lost on Fun Home‘s author, Alison Bechdel (whose name you may recognize, as she’s the originator of the Bechdel Test). Check out her response.
Whyyyyy? The ALA is actually quite nice about people who challenge books — the have “the best intentions.” They want to protect children from “offensive language and anything “sexually explicit.” Which, sure, is admirable, but misguided. Challenging a book from a school or library only heightens its appeal and makes the challenger look like your neighbour who always complained about the way your family celebrated Christmas. It’s also pointless, like attempting to stop a river by throwing a rock in it. Information, especially in our current age, is cool like that — If someone wants to read a comic, they’re going to find a way to read it.
So how can we celebrate? Order some comics today and spread the love of frequently challenged comics — Bone, Watchmen, Fun Home, and Strangers in Paradise to name a few. Remember the importance of being able to make up your own mind about the ideas presented to you.
Then dress up like Rorschach for work and scream “DO IT!” at the end of your weekly meeting.