The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced it’s programming for Banned Books Week 2022, which kicks off on Sunday, September 18. As part of this year’s message “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us”, the CBLDF has two events highlighting the challenges against LGBTQ+ comic books, spotlighting the recent legal battle of Maia Kobabe‘s 2019 debut graphic memoir Gender Queer.
The past year has been a headline-grabbing one for graphic novels being challenged, delisted and banned. 2021 saw Kobabe’s Gender Queer top the American Library Association’s most challenged book list, usually on the grounds of “LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images”. It made it back into the news only a few weeks ago when one such challenge was struck down in a Virginia court. There was another furor that kicked off 2022 with Art Spiegelman‘s Maus (albeit not for LGBTQIA+ content). All a perfect reminder of why Banned Books Week is necessary to highlight the sanctity of freedom of speech and expression in the US.
“This Sunday, September 18, marks the start of Banned Books Week 2022. As a proud Banned Books Week Coalition member, we hope you’ll join us!
“CBLDF is hosting a virtual event Monday at noon Eastern with an exclusive look behind the recent victory defending Gender Queer in Virginia. Join Maia’s representation, Jeff Trexler and Steven Emmert, in discussion as they give an insider’s perspective of the obscenity case.
“Thursday night, join us for The Censorship of LGBTQ+ Comic Books with Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato. CBLDF will be co-moderating this event with fellow Banned Books Week Coalition member PFLAG. Details for both events are below.
“Banned Books Week runs from September 18 through September 24. The week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, students, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas. “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.””
Banned Books Week has been running during the last full week of September since 1982. According to their website:
“[Banned Books Week was started] in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”
The nonprofit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has been in existence since 1986 with the express aim to protect the First Amendment rights of creators, publishers and retailers – usually be helping cover legal expenses. It is one of Banned Books Week’s sponsors.
Here are this year’s CBLDF events at Banned Books Week:
Monday, September 19, 2022 — 12 p.m. Eastern
Gender Queer in Virginia Beach: A Case Study [Register here]
“Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir achieved resounding victory in the Virginia courts. Join CBLDF for an inside look at the case from Maia’s legal representation in Virginia Beach, Jeff Trexler and Steven Emmert. Learn the roots of the case, its progression through the legal system, and why the case was dismissed. This event is a great chance to learn about the legal process of defending books from censorship and how CBLDF can help protect our freedoms.”
Thursday, September 22, 2022 — 5 p.m. Eastern
The Censorship of LGBTQ+ Comic Books with Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato [Livestream on Facebook]
“Comic books have been targeted by censors for decades, from 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings about their alleged link to juvenile delinquency, to the implementation of a content code that nearly destroyed the industry, to today’s widespread attacks on comics, especially those that share the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. Join the creators of two of today’s most acclaimed and frequently censored graphic novels — Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer) and Mike Curato (Flamer) — for a conversation about the attempts to censor their work and LGBTQ+ stories. Greg Rokisky, Social Media and Digital Content Manager at PFLAG National, and Jordan Smith, Digital Editor at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will lead the conversation.”