Comics fans fear that two new British anti-pornography laws ‘could make comic books illegal’. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act would make possessing “extreme pornography” – defined as any “extreme image” produced “solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal” – illegal. Oddly:

Films given an official classification are exempt from the new law, meaning portrayals of such extreme activity by actors will be allowed on screen. However, imitations by characters on paper will not enjoy such an exemption.

The second is the Coroners and Justice Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. It will introduce a similar law banning the possession of any image involving sexual activity and children. For the purpose of the law, an image is said to contain a child if “the impression conveyed … is that the person shown is a child”.

The comic book campaigners claim that if the new rules are interpreted harshly, their hobby could be criminalised.

What we don’t get is how films that show people actually doing obscene things get a pass while a drawing that was totally imaginary is somehow more dangerous? Huh? Whatever.

This comics fan site presents the dangers and a call to action. They fear the law swould not only ban obvious cases like LOST GIRLS, but more violent material like WATCHMEN and WANTED:

We COULD get to a point where the police could legitimately visit your home or workplace, and sanctioned by an un-elected magistrate or judge go through your collection and if they find any comic book that they feel will cause sexual arousal or displays extreme violence then they could arrest you.

And what is frightening about this law is that it gives them carte blanche to invade our lives, to shut down our comic shops and ultimately it could lead to censorship of books and films as well.


  1. My guess is that the legislation is based on the assumption that films “given an official classification” will be produced for artistic purposes, whereas paper publications that aren’t rated (I’m assuming that Britain has a ratings system for films) might not be produced with the same intentions.


  2. This is a complete non-story. The new legislation is section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which criminalises the possession of “extreme pornographic images.”

    But it only applies to images which depict “in an explicit and realistic way” certain specific acts: life-threatening violence; serious injury to the breasts, anus or genitals; necrophilia; and bestiality.

    Moreover, it only applies where “a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.”

    In theory that could cover dramatic reconstructions, but it’s not going to cover comics unless they’re photo-strips or staggeringly photorealistic.

    As for the exemption for classified films, the point is that if it’s classified, the BBFC must already have ruled that the material is not obscene. The exemption simply makes sure that decision is binding for all purposes.

    Here’s the section:

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