§ Laura Hudson pens a piece called Why Comics Get Confiscated at the Canadian Border (And How to Protect Yours) following up on the recent seizure of two comics as Tom Neely and Dylan Williams were traveling to TCAF.
We spoke with Neely and CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein and combed through Canadian customs documentation to get the details on how this happened, the measures you can take to protect yourself and your comics when you’re crossing the border, the concerns this raises for comics fans, and a list of things that may get your comics flagged as obscene and confiscated (or worse).
At the CBLDF site, Neely and Williams recount their ordeal:
They asked us to stand by the wall of the building and asked for the keys to our car. They opened up our suitcases and pulled out a random sampling of about 5 comic books we had in our bags. Those included Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions and the Black Eye anthology published by Rotland Press, of which I’m a contributor. The security guy asked us what the books were. We described them as “art comics” and he said he was going to take them inside for review. While we waited, two other security guards came out, opened the car and proceeded to pull out everything in the entire vehicle, pulled out a copy every book, and then went back inside.
Okay — it wasn’t really an ordeal, but it could almost have been. Yes, as peaceful and laid-back as Canadians appear, their border guards are apparently not all that much fun, although they are only human, as Williams points out: “They seemed more interested in sex than anything else.” However, another comics border crossing inspection led to the traveler being “handcuffed and held briefly on charges of child pornography, and his materials seized.”
I was going to Woncdercon, and because the paperwork and fees were more complicated for items totaling over a thousand dollars I only took ten pieces. I contacted US border officials in Blaine before the trip, got all the forms I needed, everything was itemized as per instructions, I had the paperwork stamped by Canadian officials at the same airport just prior to entering customs and at no point was there any indication this would be a problem. I presented the paperwork to the US border guard who sent us to immigration where we were held for over an hour (we missed our flight as a result), went through extensive grilling over my citizenship status (I’m US born with dual citizenship) and my parent’s citizenship status before we were told that airport was not a commercial port and what I was doing was illegal. The fact that I went through all the proper channels was the only thing that kept those pages from being seized. I was told if I did it again over the next two years my stuff would be taken. They said if I wanted to sell in the states all items had to be sent over via a broker (ie. FedEx, DHS etc).
The way to avoid many problems is to mail stuff ahead of time and on the way back, which sounds like and is a pain, but with these watchful border guards getting more stringent of late, it may be a precaution more people have to take.
Above: Art from THE YOUNG LIONS by Blaise Larmee, one of the seized comics.
§ ELSEWHERE…in Mountain View, CA, Graphic Novels Big Draw at Mountain View Public Library:
To my surprise, the Public Library is loaded with a real abundance of captivating graphic novels. The sign that sits atop the shelf announces, “They’re not just for kids,” although there is an additional section located in the “Teen Zone” area of the library.
“Teen graphic novels are wildly popular,” said Candace Bowers, a Mountain View librarian. “I think adults just haven’t discovered them yet.”
§ Brian Heater is running a transcript of MoCCA’s Gahan WIlson spotlight panel:
The other bunch that are very gentle are cartoonists. At The New Yorker, they’ve got sort of an informal little lunch thing. And we just sort of clump in this restaurant and eat and chat. They couldn’t be nicer. There’s no competition whatsoever. It’s very interesting. It’s just cooperative.
§ That expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is still all systems go, as far as desire is concerned,but they still haven’t figured out a way to pay for the $550 million expansion. Though large, this figure is less than the $711 million they originally thought it was going to cost. So far, the idea is to raise money by instituting a progressive hotel room tax: three percent on hotels in downtown, down to one percent for hotels further out. Taxes on cabs and other amenities that would benefit from the extra 247,000 people a larger convention center would bring to town.
All stories on the expansion point to the necessity of keeping Comic-Con as part of the reason for the move, although other shows would benefit just as much.
BONUS: Mark Evanier shares some jokes, commentary and gossip about the above matter.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.