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Monday, December 06, 2004

Different countries, different customs...

I've known Dave McKean for about 19 years now. He's spent his entire career fighting for respect for comics, creating an enormous and significant body of work which forces people to take comics art seriously. Many years ago he did Black Orchid and Arkham Asylum, but that was the closest he ever got to superheroes, and it wasn't very close even then. Since then he's done CAGES and MR PUNCH and SIGNAL TO NOISE and PICTURES THAT TICK, and of course MirrorMask...

So what does this mean? Well, for a start it means that you can buy a ticket to see him give a talk in London on the 14th of December at the D&AD Presidents Lecture -- (Dave's half-way down). But mostly it means that you finally get to see a picture of Dave as a superhero...


And the reason for this post is to let you all know that there's an interesting new case for the CBLDF.

In the UK, where I come from, we've a long history of Customs acting as censors -- seizing books like R. Crumb's My Trouble With Women, often seizing entire shipments of Underground type comics, and forcing Knockabout Comics to a number of expensive court cases over the years to attempt to get their material back.

(Note for Americans: The UK has no First Amendment, no guarantee of freedom of speech. What they have instead is an Obscene Publications Act. This means that publishers and creators can be sent to prison for publishing comics, and that local magistrates get to condemn material with statements like: 'In my judgement, the publications complained of have no literary, artistic, educational or intellectual merit save as an illustration of a curious form of depravity and titillation... I find without hesitation that when taken as a whole all the publications are obscene within the statutory definition... Further, I am in no doubt that a significant proportion of the likely readership would be depraved or corrupted by the consequences. Indeed, I dread the consequences for some of the readers.' -- Check out for the story of where that quote comes from.)

It's a little worrying when US Customs decides to get in on the unofficial censorship act.... for details.

For the record, parody, such as (which is, in comics rather than animated form, one of the two things that US Customs has a problem with) is protected by the First Amendment. Parody, whether or not you agree with its content, is not "piracy". It's why Mad Magazine can exist, for a start.


Back to work. I appear to have become completely nocturnal. Am now wild-haired as well as wild-eyed. Badly need a shave, too. God, I love being an author.
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