Give me back the Berlin wall. Give me Stalin and St. Paul. Give me Christ, or give me Hiroshima — “The Future” written by Leonard Cohen
Happy, happy Banned Books Week! It started this very week, and in case you haven’t been paying attention in certain rather large parts of the United States of America, areas I have taken to refer to as the Confederate States, they do not want it to last just a week. They want it to last forever. By the way, there’s more of these Confederate States today than there were in 1861, and you can recognize them by the number of torch-wielding, bible-thumping goons telling you what you and your family cannot be allowed to read.
It’s really a big deal. If these goose-steppers have their way, when it comes to comics and graphic novels all you’ll be permitted to read are Jack Chick’s stuff.
Here is a partial list — and I truly mean partial; it’s as thorough as a fart in a blizzard — of comics and graphic novels that have been removed from some of our libraries and even bookstores. Take a deep breath and hide your Bic lighters.
Maus by Art Spiegelman, Bone by Jeff Smith, Neonomicon by Alan Moore, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, The Walking Dead (all of them) by Robert Kirkman, Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, The Handmaid’s Tale by by Margaret Atwood – Art & Adaptation by Renee Nault, and Sandman by Neil Gaiman.
And: A Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, Flamer by Mike Curato, New Kid and Class Act by Jerry Craft, Moonstruck by Grace Ellie, Shae Beagle and Kate Leth, A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G and Jules Zuckerberg, Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green, No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed As Men for Love Freedom and Adventure by Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” by Miles Hyman.
And, still more: When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson, Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat, Identity: A Story of Transitioning by Corey Maison, Losing the Girl by MariNaomi, I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings, V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen, The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince, Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey, and, because we do not want to shame the American Nazis, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by David Polonsky.
Hmmmm. Maus and Anne Frank. If the book burners dislike being called Nazis, then they should stop banning graphic novels and stories where Nazis are the bad guys.
I’m not going to wring my hands and beg the zealots to stop — some, you’ll note, have been prone to murder and attempted murder. Someday soon, they will learn the hard way that they are mistaken about how they are the ones who own all the guns. Self-defense is a right that cannot be mitigated by law.
Enough is enough. It’s time to put an end to this anti-American bullshit.
Take a look at the list above and google around to find some of your own favorites to add to it. Then, every time you have a few extra bucks, buy one of them and give it to a student who will read and understand it. This is the patriotic thing to do, and I mean that sincerely.
If you can, buy those banned books at your friendly neighborhood comic book shop. They can use the business and, equally important, they too are freedom fighters.
If we don’t stand up for our freedoms, we will lose them. Ask anybody living in a Confederate State about women’s right to abortion. In point of fact, we do not have any rights unless and until we can repeatedly exercise them successfully. Someday somewhere in America, somebody will pass a law that says women wearing hijabs or abayas cannot be allowed to cross the street.
Friends, it’s time to shit or get off the pot.
By the way, there’s a book missing from this list that’s admittedly out of print. I cannot begin to tell you how much I wish somebody would reissue The Adventures of Phoebe Zeitgeist by Michael O’Donoghue and Frank Springer. Clever, funny, extremely well drawn, it’s a bit dated to be sure but a wonderful experience. I read it in the 1960s; it first was serialized in a newsstand magazine. I was in my mid-to-late teens, and it didn’t harm me at all.
I loathed religious zealots long before Phoebe was an O’Donoghue wet dream.