By Todd Allen
Charles Brownstein is starting out with a history of comics censorship.
Step 1: the Senate inquery sets up the Comics Code.
Step 2: The underground comics emerge to talk about class, sexuality, politics and drugs. (i.e., youth culture in the late 60s/early 70s)
Zap #4 included “Joe Blow,” an incestuous satire of Leave It to Beaver type families. Zap #4 was the first comic book to be found obscene.
That and the 1973 Miller v. California ruling (that obscenity is defined by local standards) effectively shut down the underground movement.
Step three: As underground distribution fell apart, fandom started to organize and lay the groundwork for the Direct Market. In the 1980s, the DM saw comics addressing adult materials again. In 1986, Friendly Frank’s, a comic shop in Lansing, IL, was arrested in a sting operation. In 1988, Dennis Kitchen started the predecessor of the CBLDF when he organized artists to fund an appeal (which was won).
Brownstein concluded the panel with an update on the Daniel X. case, a particularly disturbing case where a young man crossing the Canadian border was detained by Canadian customs officials and accused of possessing child pornography in the form of manga on his laptop. Canada has a history of seizing comics at the border and the CBLDF has issued an advisory on crossing the border with comics in your possession, in either print or electronic format.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.