Canadians seem like a peaceful, tolerant folk, but they have a record of seizing a lot of material at the border, including, this week, several copies of the comics anthology BLACK EYE. Editor Ryan Standfest has a complete account in the link. Basically cartoonist Tom Neely was carrying five copies of the book across the border, when the books were seized. Neely writes:
They are being sent to officials in Ottawa for “review.” Which probably means they’ll go into some politician’s
personal collection of smut. … 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 (the customs guard) said they would just destroy them, or that there was 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. They went through everything in our car. Opened every suitcase and looked through every book.”
The anthology is described on the website as “A new anthology that collects original narrative comics, art and essays by 41 international artists and writers, all focused on the expression of black, dark or absurdist humor.” with contributions from R. Sikoryak, Ivan Brunetti, Stephané Blanquet and the like, so this was a top notch production.
TCAF seems to have been the “Great Escape” of carrying subversive material over the border into Canada. In a post on the story at The Comics Journal, Standfest notes that Sparkplug’s Dylan Williams also had his copies of Blaise Larmee’s “Young Lions” confiscated due to a misunderstanding over imagery.
While, as noted, Canadians generally seem like a laid-back, tolerant lot, they actually have pretty strict standards for what can be brought into the country, and this isn’t the first incident of this kind. Four years ago, a bunch of gay-themed comics were confiscated by Customs; manga has also routinely been seized.