When the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was established in 1986, it
was to support the defense of retailers who found themselves in
trouble for daring to sell a handful of comics aimed at older
readers. Over the years the idea that comics can speak to adults on
their terms has become less radical to the general public, but too
often in the eyes of the law, they're still just for kids. In
each of the last three national election years, the Fund has defended
a case that tries to press that point. As we approach the 2004
election, we need your support so that when the next cases arrive, as
unfortunately we can be certain they will, we can afford to defend
them, to ensure that you can keep reading, or creating, or
publishing, or selling, comics and graphic novels.
There are many signs that the next legal battle is imminent. This
year both Arkansas and Michigan passed new laws attempting to ban the
display and dissemination of "harmful-to-minors" materials.
On the surface these laws are supposed to shield minors from explicit
materials, but they are so ambiguously phrased that they actually
threaten a great deal of the constitutionally protected materials
that support the individuals who earn their living from comics.
This year, the federal government passed PROTECT, a dangerous law
that broadens the definition of child pornography in a fashion that
threatens any work addressing the idea of minors engaged in sexual
conduct, whether an actual minor is involved or not. Even co-sponsor
Patrick Leahy condemned this provision of the law, saying it
"goes too far." This law and the PATRIOT Act include
provisions allowing for increased surveillance of individuals and
businesses that can be carried out under a cloak of secrecy, so who
can say what's happening that we aren't seeing?
The CBLDF is actively following and fighting these laws. As full
members of Media Coalition, a national association of free speech
advocacy groups, we have participated in nearly a dozen amicus briefs
challenging laws like Arkansas Act 858, the Child Online Protection
Act, South Carolina's Harmful to Minors Internet Law, even
provisions of the PATRIOT Act. We've also lent our name to cases
whose precedents would affect the freedom of creators to take
advantage of their First Amendment right to free expression, such as
Winters v. DC Comics, New Times v. Isaacks, and Tyne v. Time Warner.
We're keeping you informed about these fights and the new laws on
the horizon in Busted!, which has become one of the country's leading
magazines covering the national First Amendment climate.
This is necessary work and we need your support so we can continue to
do it. By making a tax-deductible donation to the CBLDF you will
allow us to build up our war chest so we can wage a first-class legal
defense the next time a member of the comics community is caught in a
legal crossfire. You will help us to take action to stop bad laws
before they start and prevent bad precedents from infecting the law.
Please contribute to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today. If you
haven't yet renewed your membership, now is the time to do so.
If you're not a member but earn a living from comics, then you
have no excuse for not joining now. If you have already paid this
year's dues, we thank you and we ask you to please use this
opportunity to increase your support.
Please visit www.cbldf.org and make your tax-deductible contribution
I've done a short update at http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/where.asp listing the three events I know I'm doing in 2004. There are probably a few others (there's one US book event I've agreed to go to), and I'll list them as soon as I can get details, but this is basically a writing year, not an an appearing places and signing year.
I've also fiddled with the settings for the FAQ archives, so you can now read the entire FAQ blog at http://www.neilgaiman.com/faq/blog.asp. I'll try and do an update soon covering all the things that have been written earlier in the FAQ blog that aren't actually true any longer, like the fact that these days you can buy a Region 0 Neverwhere on DVD (some nice screen-captured stills from it, and a review at http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=7534.)