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Graphic Novels:Why Aren't They For Kids?

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This is a news story I found in my local newspaper (The Flint Journal), but it doesn't concern just Michigan. It's an article about the controversy being raised (that I certainly was never aware of!) by the decision of public libraries to start (Start? Huh?) stocking Graphic Novels.

I love the quote by Louise Mills (which I highlighted). So....showing a depiction of a man and woman having sex with each other in a loving manner is now considered "pornography"?! :blink: Geez! Bored midwestern housewives with far too much time on their hands and what they manage to spend their time worrying about.....GET A FUCKING JOB!

Also, read the very last sentence, about Maus. What the bloody hell?! :huh:

I have no idea what the fuss is about. If some comics are not meant for children (obviously!), then have a board which labels each book as All Ages, Young Adult, Teens, Mature. Simple as that! Libraries just need to check that minors are not renting books which are not age appropriate. Is that so fucking hard?!

 

Novels too graphic for some

Hot publishing trend of comic book-type images draws objections from some library patrons.

By JAMES HART

 

Two recent books — Blankets and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic — got a reception any novelist would envy, including starred reviews, awards and nominations.

 

But the books are notable because they’re also graphic novels, stories told primarily with drawings instead of words. They resemble comic books, but graphic novels typically run hundreds of pages and often tackle mature subject matter. And as graphic novels have become more common in libraries and bookstores, they have started to run into critics who say they’re too easily available to young children.

 

In Marshall, Mo., for example, the public library has removed its copies of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets after several patrons objected to the books’ nudity and sexual content.

 

”My concern does not lie with the content of the novels, rather my concern is with the illustrations and their availability to children and the community,” resident Louise Mills, who brought the graphic novels to the board’s attention, is quoted as saying at the meeting.

 

“Does this community want our public library to continue to use tax dollars to purchase pornography? … We may as well purchase the porn shop down at the junction and move it to Eastwood. Some day this library will be drawing the same clientele. I sincerely hope the board will listen to the community. Let’s not contribute to the delinquency of minors.”

 

The National Coalition for Censorship, which supported keeping the books in circulation, doesn’t keep statistics about the number of challenges, but one official said she has seen more cases like the one in Marshall. Because the stories are told with pictures, many people automatically think they’re meant for children.

 

“Because of that novelty in a way, there have been more challenges,” said Svetlana Mintcheva, the coalition’s director of arts advocacy. “… In a lot of cases, they’re pulled.”

 

Publishers Weekly calls graphic novels one of the fastest-growing segments of the publishing industry.

 

And the industry has started paying more attention, said Publishers Weekly senior news editor Calvin Reid. More bookstores stock the books, especially manga, a type of Japanese comics that have been especially popular with young women and girls.

 

Reid said most American readers still think of superheroes when they think of comics.

 

But they are more than that.

 

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation — a picture-and-word version of the government investigation — recently landed on The New York Times best-sellers list. American Born Chinese, a graphic novel memoir, was just named a finalist for a National Book Award — a first, Reid said. “We were bouncing off the wall around here.”

 

The Young Adult Library Services Association recommended Blankets as one of its best books for young adults, and for many librarians, graphic novels have become a way to court younger readers.

 

The Kansas City Public Library has offered more graphic novels as it has become easier to buy them, said Therese Bigelow, the system’s associate director for strategic planning. These books tend to be popular checkouts.

 

The library has a review system to make sure the titles are put in an age-appropriate department, she said. “Some graphic novels are designed for children, and some are not,” Bigelow said.

 

She said people sometimes treat graphic novels differently because they rely on images instead of words. “Because they’re pictures, sometimes they feel like they have more power than words.”

 

Marshall’s library didn’t offer graphic novels until a few years ago, when director Amy Crump joined the staff.

 

“They have a great appeal to teens and teens who do not typically read,” Crump said.

 

But the books have proved controversial.

 

Blankets, which was shelved in the Marshall library’s young adults section, features a masturbation scene and drawings of bare breasts. Fun Home, an autobiography of a young lesbian and her closeted gay father, was assigned to the adult biography section.

 

Louise Mills, the Marshall resident who asked the library to reconsider Blankets and Fun Home, could not be reached for comment. But during an Oct. 4 meeting, according to a report in The Marshall Democrat-News, she told the library board: “My concern does not lie with the content of the novels. Rather my concern is with the illustrations and their availability to children and the community.”

 

During meetings about the graphic novels, most speakers supported removing the books. Crump and Anita Wright, library board president, said they have heard privately from others who want to keep them.

 

Claudia Milstead, an opponent of removal who spoke during a public hearing, said, “I was horrified that someone was trying to remove two books from the library.”

 

Crump said this is the first time anyone has ever asked the library, which is about 15 years old, to consider removing a title.

 

The library board has not made a final decision. The board is waiting for a committee to write a policy on what kinds of items the library collects and where they should be shelved.

 

That could take a couple of months. Until then, neither book will be available through Marshall’s library.

 

Other titles challenged include "The Watchmen" by Alan Moore, which was challenged in Virginia and Florida as unsuitable for young readers, "Akira:Volume 2", which was challenged in Texas for offensive language, and "New X-Men" by Grant Morrison, which was challenged in Maryland for nudity, offensive language, and extreme violence.

Even "Maus" was challenged this year in Oregon as anti-ethnic.

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I have no idea what the fuss is about. If some comics are not meant for children (obviously!), then have a board which labels each book as All Ages, Young Adult, Teens, Mature. Simple as that! Libraries just need to check that minors are not renting books which are not age appropriate. Is that so fucking hard?!

 

FYI, at most - if not all - public libraries, librarians are not permitted to prevent anyone from checking out anything they wish. A five year old can rent Caligula and the librarians can'ts ay a word.

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I have no idea what the fuss is about. If some comics are not meant for children (obviously!), then have a board which labels each book as All Ages, Young Adult, Teens, Mature. Simple as that! Libraries just need to check that minors are not renting books which are not age appropriate. Is that so fucking hard?!

 

FYI, at most - if not all - public libraries, librarians are not permitted to prevent anyone from checking out anything they wish. A five year old can rent Caligula and the librarians can'ts ay a word.

 

 

I'm not sure that's true...to get a library card around here, if you are a minor, you must have an adult co-sign with you, and the adult can put limits on your check-outs. This is true in the Stark County District libraries, as well as the unconnected North Canton Public Library.

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That's the way it is here too.

 

And, if they're going to ban books because of this, it'd be a far better idea to start not allowing minours to check out books with inappropriate material, rather than penalize everyone else because libraries are not allowed to prevent children from renting books that their parents may have a problem with.

It is at least true that there's far more children who would want to rent a graphic novel with a nudie picture in it than there are minours who are clamboring to rent Lady Chatterley's Lover, so you can see why the parents are wanting graphic novels banned when they don't care about Caligula.

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Guest spiderlegs

Man, the first time I saw titties in a National Geographic at the tendra age of 6 or 7, I went to the library and grabbed the whole stack of them, took them to a table and commenced to searching for more titties. I found 7 or 8 issues with tittie pictures in them (in a span of probably 15 years worth of back issues) so I fucked up the chronolgical order and re-ordered them as "with titties" and "without titties". "With Titties" were at the top for any other promiscuous prepubescent pupil to peruse and ponder.

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:laugh:

 

See? That's why the types of crises being discussed in that article are so fucking stupid!

 

Has anyone figured out why Maus is anti-ethnic yet?

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Because its overall message is one of peace and remembrance?

 

 

Because the Polish were depicted as pigs?

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Because its overall message is one of peace and remembrance?

 

 

Because the Polish were depicted as pigs?

You're probably onto something there, Jay. Remember the fuss about Huckleberry Finn being racist because it features a character called nigger Jim?

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Two recent books — Blankets and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic — got a reception any novelist would envy, including starred reviews, awards and nominations.

 

But the books are notable because they’re also graphic novels, stories told primarily with drawings instead of words. They resemble comic books, but graphic novels typically run hundreds of pages and often tackle mature subject matter. And as graphic novels have become more common in libraries and bookstores, they have started to run into critics who say they’re too easily available to young children.

 

In Marshall, Mo., for example, the public library has removed its copies of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets after several patrons objected to the books’ nudity and sexual content.

 

”My concern does not lie with the content of the novels, rather my concern is with the illustrations and their availability to children and the community,” resident Louise Mills, who brought the graphic novels to the board’s attention, is quoted as saying at the meeting.

 

[. . .]

 

Blankets, which was shelved in the Marshall library’s young adults section, features a masturbation scene and drawings of bare breasts. Fun Home, an autobiography of a young lesbian and her closeted gay father, was assigned to the adult biography section.

This has been the game of American Christian religious bigots for at least the last 25 years: they try to get a book removed because they don't like its content, but they lie about their motivations, always claiming they don't like crude language or sex scenes.

 

They're probably closer to admitting the real reasons they don't like Fun Home, because Allison Bechdel is an openly gay creator who is portraying gay people in a family, though they probably will latch onto any actual portrayal of sex or nudity. (I haven't read Fun Home yet, but I've followed Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For for years, and I'm not sure she's ever shown even one naked breast, or a scene where anyone was clearly "going at it".) But the objections to Blankets are more dishonest and insidious: that GN turns a harsh light on the culture of American Protestant fundamentalism. In such cases, the born again bigots will find anything "obscene" that they can latch onto to get the book out of the library.

 

 

I remember in the past Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority spiritual warriors tried to get To Kill a Mockingbird of libraries, supposedly for the usual cusswords/nudity/sex. Gee, it couldn't be because the book was anti-racist and portrayed Southern racism in a bad light, could it? (Falwell is a Virginan who's been quoted years ago as saying about America, "This is a white man's country".)i

 

Or the effort to deep-six Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes, because of some supposed sexual stuff that was so tepid I can't even remember it. Of course that that time, big figures in the fundamentalist right, including the egregious Pat Boone, were saying how wonderful a nuclear war would be, because it was hasten the rapture, tribulation, and the kingdom of God on earth. Tiger Eyes had a teenage girl move from Atlantic City to Los Alamos, New Mexico, America's premier nuclear bomb-creating city, which she grew to know and loathe. The book is an almost acid portrait of the town's racism, academically over-pressured children, and anxiety displaced from fear of nuclear war which Los Alamos residents couldn't admit to onto every other aspect of life. Clearly Blume knew Los Alamos well and hated it. Which wouldn't have gone over well with the overwhelmingly Reaganite Religious Right of that time.

 

If you don't look past what the Religious Right claim are their reasons for complaining vociferously about a particular book (when so many books have cusswords, nudity and sex), you'll usually miss their real reasons.

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Yeah, I figured out that they had a problem with Fun Home because it dealt with sexuality.

I'm not so sure about Blankets other than the fact that he turns away from fundamentalist organized religion, but I wouldn't expect anyone to have taken the time to really read through Blankets and figure that out.

You also have to figure in places like Missouri quite simply there are a lot of really bored housewives with nothing to do all day. I'm sure they really are up in arms over seeing a nude person in a comic and feel that it's the downfall of Western civilization.

And if you look at what Louise actually says in that quote, she contradicts herself. She says she "doesn't care about the content of the books", but is concerned about their "availiability to the community". So, she's fine with people writing whatever they want, as long as no one has access to actually read or see those stories.

The Maus thing I really can't figure out. I'm figuring like Jay and Dog said that it might be more of a knee-jerk Liberal P.C. issue where Maus is concerned, rather than the Right.

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Yeah, I figured out that they had a problem with Fun Home because it dealt with sexuality.

I'm not so sure about Blankets other than the fact that he turns away from fundamentalist organized religion, but I wouldn't expect anyone to have taken the time to really read through Blankets and figure that out.

 

mind you, there's quite a bit of nudity in Blankets, that might have been the "pornography" in question. sigh.

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While we're on this, has anybody seen whatsisface Fulce's "comics are evil" Wertham impersonation? It seems he tampered with a lot of the comics panels it printed as evidence of inappropiate nudity by sticking white boxes over the smutty bits which were big enough (at least in the three images reprinted in the article I saw about it) to imply that genitalia was on show while the naughty bits in question were actually covered by a leg or smalls. Bit underhand and misleading, if so.

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Yeah, I figured out that they had a problem with Fun Home because it dealt with sexuality.

I'm not so sure about Blankets other than the fact that he turns away from fundamentalist organized religion, but I wouldn't expect anyone to have taken the time to really read through Blankets and figure that out.

mind you, there's quite a bit of nudity in Blankets, that might have been the "pornography" in question. sigh.

Sure, that would have been the ostensible justification for the campaign, but if you look at the way the "Christian" (fundamentalist) milieu is portrayed, it's pretty negative.

 

Do any of you who read Blankets remember the exchange between the fundie man and woman about the young guy the man knew who'd gone to college. They were talking about what can happen to you out in "the world", especially at "non-Christian" colleges.

 

The man said that the young guy of his acquaintance who went to college had "gotten into pornography" and said that it led on to something even more terrible.

 

Fundie woman: "Satanism?" [she may have said some other awful evil here.]

 

Fundie man: "Worse. Homosexuality."

 

And the woman and man put on dolorous faces, pitying all the poor souls who were pulled down to perdition by "the world". They were so self-righteously solemn and serious about this idiotic conversation, that you look at them with disgust and contempt, and not a little amusement.

 

Okay, maybe I got parts of it wrong, but that's the gist. It's clear the creator has a complete lack of respect for a fair number of fundamentalists.

 

Like most authoritarian personalities, rightwing fundamentalist crusaders can't stand to be criticized or laughed at.

 

And that isn't the only instance where Blankets makes the fundies look bad.

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Yeah, that's pretty well the jist of the novel (I know there's a lot more to it than just that theme).

But, as I said before, do you really think any fundamentalists would bother to even know that much about a book like Blankets?

I know it's very popular within graphic novels, but would it really be that well known in the mainstream that they'd know it was a condemnation of fundamentalists?

 

I guess if someone's child brought it home and they read the back of the book, I think it talks about how fundamentalist Christianity shaped his formative years on the back, they could've looked into it and discovered its damning tone towards fundamentalism and spread the word.

 

Just by the way, that was exactly the sort of world I had to mingle with for those years when I was in a Christian school. Awful!

I remember one kid I knew who was collecting comics. He went to a Bible camp one weekend and the minister convinced him that comic books were a tool of the Devil, and he burned all of his comic books when he got home. He was telling us about how great it made him feel.

That ecstasy lasted for about a week before he was moaning about the fact that he had burned his comics. He started to beg to borrow comics off of me.

 

Also, another story, right before I left the Christian school, I had gotten so sick of everything that school stood for and the conformity they tried to force on me, that I had become a God-hating atheist, started to drink, and was sporting a Punk look; you had to wear a shirt with a collar, dress pants, and shirt tucked in with belt at the school, with hair off the collar and ears, but I was able to start growing my hair out and wearing lots of mousse in it, combing strings of hair over my forehead, and there weren't any rules about clothes for gym class other than no shirts with writing, so I wore ripped up jeans and long black T-shirts. So, anyway, the good Christian soldiers (that was the school mascot, by the way) didn't take too well to my rebellion. One day after gym class a few of the kids came up to me and started saying things, I don't remember what. Anyway, it ended up where I said, "There is no God. Haven't you figured that out yet?". All of a sudden these kids responded, "Oh wow! We were going to beat you up, but now that I know you don't believe in God, I feel sorry for you, so I'll pray for you instead." and they left.

 

I've got lots of other stories from that period in my life, but now is not the time nor the place....those just jumped to mind.

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Guest spiderlegs

I love how we still devolve into 16th century puritan standards regarding whether genitalia are shown, yet the the violence depicted doesn't even raise an eyebrow. That's the essential flaw in American values: we consider sexuality immoral and violence suitable. And then we wonder why gun violence and violent crime stats in general are worse than they've ever been.

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Preach on, Spider!

 

Something that is natural and can be very beautiful and should be spiritual is demonized, while something unnatural which causes only pain and suffering is gloried.

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Remember the fuss about Huckleberry Finn being racist because it features a character called nigger Jim?

I was in jail with that dude once.

:o

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Guest spiderlegs

And you had to call him that if you wanted his attention. Fortunately, I never needed to say his name.

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Was he an African-American?

"Get his attention" as in piss him off or....Did he get angry with you if you said that or did he want to be called that?

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Guest spiderlegs

Yes, he was african-american. 'Get his attention' meaning call him by name. He ran his mouth so much, this older black guy who was in there with us kept telling him to shut up. The other guy's name was Vernon, and he had been picked up for a ticket warrant after taking his kids to school. I had been picked up (behind on my probation payments after a Deferred Adjudication) after taking my son back to his mom's. It was early in the morning, and we were the two old guys in the tank in our pajamas bottoms t-shirts and house shoes. We had alot in common, so that made the time pass. The first guy (N-word Jim or "lil nigga" as everyone in the tank called him) I referred to was a kid who ran in a gang, and he pretty much confessed to his crime--aggravated kidnapping and attempted murder for jumping this other kid and forcing him into a car trunk at gunpoint and driving around all day the previous day with the kid in the trunk. He was proud that he was going to county now for at least 3 years. What a dumbass...

 

Vernon and I agreed that the ex[erience in jail would be the end of the road for the house shoes we wore.

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