Three Acts Of Comic Book Censorship

Source: Bleeding Cool

How does it feel to be a cartoonist or a caricaturist when the state can ban even the concept? Welcome to an the new Press Freedom Caricature Exhibition in Turkey, opened with the panel, “Press Freedom in the Light of Humour and Comics”, with some very intriguing historical notes, and a reminder of the perceived power of a caricature.

The President of the Association of Caricaturists, Akdağ Saydut gave a history lesson of cartoon caricature in Turkey, since the magazine “Diogenes” was banned in 1867 by the government, and how during Abdul Hamid II, all comedy magazines were banned.

However now, 92 such magazines are published in Turkey, but there are still threats of censorship, and a number of magazines have been closed down and cartoonists have been jailed. My favourite, if I can have a favourite, example of censorship given on the panel is when in 1980 the cartoonist İsmail Gülgeç was banned from using the colour blue, when a referendum allocated the colour blue to those who opposed the new constitution. And currently there are a number of trials against cartoonists on the grounds of attacjing the personal riughts of the cyrrent Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Eastern European countries where this kind of thing is a current issue. In Canada, the Comics Journal reports from Ryan Standfest of Rotland Press and Comic Works

Mr. Tom Neely reported this morning that while traveling across the border to Canada to attend this year’s TCAF, the five copies of the black humor comics anthology BLACK EYE that he was carrying with him to the festival were confiscated/seized by a customs agent on the grounds that the material in BLACK EYE was “obscene.”

According to Neely:

“… They took ‘em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review… if they found the material to be ‘obscene’ they would take ‘further action.’ I asked what ‘further action’ meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.

“It was the page of Onsmith’s gags that they first saw… I tried to tell them that it was ‘parody’ and ‘humor’ and the rest of the book had essays on the history of dark humor… the customs guy was really cool and understanding, but he said he just couldn’t let them through. I just hope ‘further action’ doesn’t involve being arrested the next time I try to cross the border.”

While in further news, Canadian retailers report that Diamond has cancelled orders for the print verison of the erotic webcomic Chester 5000 from Top Shelf Comix. There is a real danger that if Canadian Customs object to one item being shipped across, that they could and would seize the entire Diamond shipment.

This smacks of HM Customs decision in the UK to seize entire crateloads of material shipped from the States in the nineties because, with laws designed to deal with fruit or meat produce, one item found to be in breach of import terms could “infect” the entire shipment. UK Customs are a lot more liberal these days – but as ever, things can always turn on a sixpence.

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